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Glossary of terms


ABC 1 Demographic

ABC1 and other letter categories refer to social grades that advertisers find useful when targeting their ideal consumers. They might seem very judgmental of today's sensibilities, but they are still the way advertisers target, according to UK geographics. The A and B categories refer to people in higher and intermediate managerial jobs. C1 refers to supervisory, clerical, and junior management people. C2 refers to skilled manual occupations. D&E refers to semi-skilled, unskilled, or unemployed.

The ABC1 demographic is generally considered to have more disposable income and, therefore, more spending power, valid for more expensive products and services.


The Advertising Standards Authority is the UK regulator of all advertising. They are responsible for applying the Codes for both print ( CAP code) and TV commercials (BCAP code). The ASA has a co-regulatory position with the Government OFCOM (the Office of Communication), and any advertiser must abide by the codes. Failure of the the broadcasters to remove ads that breach the code could lead to fines or, in extreme cases, withdrawal of their license, resulting in shutting down the channel.


Broadcasters Audience Research Board. BARB is an advisory body that is responsible for measuring UK audience numbers ( and 'currency'). Their research is able to inform broadcasters who is watching, what they are watching and when, and on how many screens. For more information and video explaining how the process works click here


Broadcaster Committee of Advertising Practice / Committee of Advertising Practice. These committees are responsible for creating codes that ensure that advertising is LEGAL, TRUTHFUL, HONEST & DECENT. These codes are implemented by the ASA and are also the touchstone for Clearcast approval. Above and beyond making sure ads accurately describe a product or service, they also  avoid damaging stereotyping and other societal issues (such as sexism, homophobia, racism etc).


CARIA is an intranet system that allows media buyers to notify the broadcaster when to show an ad. It is generally controlled by the media buyer, although often the creative agency will have part access to the system. Most advertisers are unaware of the system as it happens ' in the background'. However, CARIA is essential for making sure an ad appears at the right time in the right place.


Clearcast is an agency owned by some of the major networks and used by 90% of the UK broadcasters to make sure any advert is compliant to the current broadcast regulations. These regulations are set by the Advertising Standards Authority (the ASA), who have the ability to remove a non-compliant ad from the air. Clearcast's job is to warn advertisers if their creative breaches the guidelines and to work with them to find a solution to make the ad compliant.  Here is a film to explain how Clearcast works and you can visit their website


Cost per mille. From the latin for 1000, 'mille' actually refers to 1,000. Usually this refers to 'impacts' (e.g  £2.80cpm = £2.80 for 1000 impacts or 0.28p per impact). Sometimes referred to as CPT- cost per thousand.


It is essential to know what your demographic is when you are advertising on TV. For example, if you are selling a trendy new shaving product, your main demographic is going to be men aged 16-34. In this case, the best place for the TV ad may be a sports programme with predominantly male viewership. On standard TV there are 30 different demographics to choose from (click here for full detail). However, for a much more accurate demographic (e.g people with a garden in South West London who own a cat) there are new technological ways to target ( and only pay for) these viewers through VoD or Sky Adsmart.

Impact/eyeballs / impressions

Traditional media uses the term' impact' to describe a 'viewing'—in other words, one person seeing one advert once. In digital media, the word 'impressions' is often used instead, but the meaning is the same. TV is sold on impacts, so an advertiser might buy, say, 3 million ABC 1 adult impacts, which would guarantee their ad is seen by at least 3 million adults from the ABC1 demographic.


Search engine optimisation. If you own a website, 'good SEO' allows Google to find you easily when people search for products. Google has a system to determine how your website performs and rewards good sites by moving them toward the top of the search page. It is highly desirable to appear on the first page of the Google search as many people don't look beyond the first page. Google work out your performance with a constantly changing set of algorithms. However, the golden rule is ensuring your site is active and evolving. Change content (by adding a blog, for example) or add links to videos or other content regularly. Getting mentioned on another site (with link) is a way to boost your viewing figures and push you up the list.

Sky Adsmart

Sky Adsmart is a revolutionary way to advertise on TV. It uses the combined technology of the Sky satellite combined with the set top box. Using this process, Sky can overlay an ad 'pasted' over the outgoing live stream. The viewer sees any ad seamlessly alongside other commercials. The ad can be uniquely targeted too. With over 1000 touchpoints it's possible to play-out your commercial only to a very specific demographic. For example, you can just broadcast to people who live in the SW4 postcode, own a dog and have a South facing garden. In this way there is no 'wastage' as your ad is seen by the perfect potential customer only. We made a short film to explain how it works here.


Thinkbox is a marketing agency for promoting TV advertising in the UK. Its shareholders are some of the largest UK broadcasters and include Channel 4, ITV, Sky Media, Turner Media and UKTV. Thinkbox produces invaluable research for the advertising community. They have information on  subjects such as TV advertising efficacy, what is popular programming with different demographics, and how to make your TV commercial more resonant. You can visit their website at


Television ratings. This is system which replaces the need to buy TV advertising by 'slots'. Buying slots can be unreliable and potentially poor value. Instead, TVRs help calculate the cost of your TV dollars more accurately! First you select your demographic (e.g. Men aged 16-34). This is called your  'Universe' and is the number of people in the UK that fit that demographic (for example, there are 7,191,000 men aged 16-34 in the UK as of NOV 2019). 1 TVR is 1% of that number. So if you purchased 10 TVRs you would show your ad to 10% of your universe ( 7,191,000 x 10%) equating to 719,000 people.


This is the total number of potential viewers for your TV ad. It varies on which demographic you choose. In 2019 there was a total of 60,455,000 people watching TV. Of this, adults aged 55 plus accounted for 20,026,000. Therefore, the Universe for adults aged 55+ is 20,026,000. 


Pay per click. Google advertising has several options but the most immediate is PPC. These are adverts that come at the top of the page (marked 'ad' on a Google search).The advertiser is charged every time someone clicks though to their website on the Google link. You can set a spending limit on the number of clicks per day, so that budgets remain accountable. This type of advertising is not the same as SEO, which potentially can drive your website higher in the search results.


Video on Demand. This is  a way to advertise on 'catch up' TV. Most of the broadcast channels have VoD options (such as ITV player, 4 on demand etc). Most programming will include a few adverts before the start of the programme. VoD advertising has several advantages over traditional TV advertising. For a start, you can click straight through to a website while the ad is playing, pausing the TV programme while the viewer looks at the website. Secondly, its possible to do better targeting including geo targeting, where the ad is only played out to a postcode or area. Some of the networks can also use Experian data to target a specific demographic. 

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