Digital Jargon, Explained: Types of Digital Ads

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The world of digital advertising throws around a lot of jargon. There is a constant flow of acronyms, technical terms, and insider language that can be overwhelming to anyone outside this landscape looking to either get involved in or manage digital strategy for a campaign. So, in this series, we’ll break down a few digital terms each week and explain to you – in layman’s terms – what they mean and why they matter to your campaign. So let’s give it a go!

Banner Ads

Also commonly called ‘Display Ads,’ these are advertisements you see on websites throughout the internet. They can either be static or animated, and are embedded into a website. Banner ads are typically found in specific sizes, and each size corresponds to a specific placement on a webpage. For example, you may see a long narrow shaped ad (728×90 pixels) on the top of a webpage and a more square-like ad (300×250 pixels) between paragraphs of a news story. These ads are clickable, so a voter can see your ad, click on it, and then be taken to the webpage of your choice.

What does this mean for your campaign?

Many campaigns choose to have banner ads up and served to their voters at all times. It is relatively easy to start new ad campaigns, and it is a great way to strategically target voters with specialized creative designs showing endorsements or policy positions that may be meaningful to them. We also have clients who pair their digital strategy with their organizing work to ensure the message their voters see online is the same one that is coming to their doors from canvassers. It’s also a great way to speak directly to your voters without needing to manage anything on a day-to-day basis.

Are these the ads I see on Facebook or Google?

While ads that appear on Facebook and Google meet many of the specificities of banner ads, they are actually separate from what the digital world typically thinks of as banner ads. Both companies – and their subsidiaries – have separate systems for online advertising. Ads that are placed as banner ads are not on Facebook or Google. Facebook ads won’t be seen outside the walls of Facebook, and Google ads won’t be seen outside the walls of Google.

Pro-tip: If you’re looking for a way to bridge the gap between Facebook ads and banner ads, check out how you can get your banner ads one step off Facebook.

Resizing banner ads

Because banner ads need to fit into specific spots (typically referred to in the industry as ‘inventory’) on the internet, an ad with a specific design is often resized into 3 or more other sizes so it has more flexibility to be placed in front of viewers. At SpeakEasy, each of our templates come in 4 different sizes, and each of these can be delivered on either mobile devices, computers/tablets, or both.

What does this mean for your campaign?

For any ad you launch, it is best practice to have this ad resized into at least 3 other sizes, most notably the 300×250 pixel size. If you only have a single size to serve, it is more difficult to deliver that ad to your voters because they will need to be browsing on a webpage with that specific size available, and many other companies, campaigns, and organizations are also fighting for that space. That’s why we highly encourage anyone using our templates to ensure their set of ads is complete in all 4 sizes. See how the image below is the same ad, but in different shapes and sizes? That’ll ensure we can get as many eyes on your ad as possible.

Ad Set

An ad set is the total grouping of ads that are based on the same creative design, but are resized into the various sizes to be served to the audience. For example, the 4 ads you see above are together considered an ad set.

Ad Version

An ad version is the term for a single ad within an ad set. For example, in the image above, the 300×600 ad is an ad version within the entire ad set.


‘Pre-roll’ is the term for a video ad that is played before or during content on sites with videos (but not Youtube, because it’s owned by Google!). For example, if you watch a news clip on or watch a 3 minute recap of the latest basketball game on, you’ll probably see a short ad or two before you can get to your video. That was a pre-roll video ad. Top performing pre-roll ads are 6 or 15 seconds.

What does this mean for your campaign?

Pre-roll ads are great for campaigns because, like banner ads, they are easy to place. They also tend to have high completion rates, meaning a large percentage of viewers will watch the ad in its entirety. Although fewer viewers tend to click on pre-roll videos compared to banner ads, you will likely capture more of their attention for longer. Plus, with the video format, you have the ability to deliver a more complex or holistic message to the viewer, especially with the audio component that is typically missing from generic banner ads.


OTT stands for Over-The-Top. An OTT ad plays before or during content on apps within connected TV streaming services such as Roku or Tubi. These are simply the commercials you’ll see when watching content on Hulu or a Roku app. These ads are actually targeted and delivered similarly to pre-roll and banner ads and we typically recommend 15 or 30 second ads in this format.

What does this mean for your campaign?

We love OTT at SpeakEasy because it can carry so much power for your campaigns. TV commercials are cost prohibitive to most political campaigns, but OTT is a way to get out a longer, TV-commercial length message about yourself or your candidate. It is targeted directly to your voters and you won’t need to pay millions of dollars for a single spot.

We know this is only touching the surface of all of the digital advertising jargon, so don’t worry – we’ll be back for more! If you have any questions, or terms or topics you’d like to see explained, don’t hesitate to reach out.

For now, happy campaigning!

We are SpeakEasy Political, the leading tool for campaigns and organizations to easily create high-impact digital media and direct mail campaigns.  By leveraging innovative media strategies and our brand building experience, our tech powers Democratic candidates and causes up and down the ballot. SpeakEasy’s Consultant Studio was also built to support consultant teams with leading data, strategic targeting, and comprehensive ad tech to serve as your backend media buying operation.

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