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Understanding the terminology used in the creative industries can be mind-boggling. Learning these will help you understand the industry and you'll be ready for any encounter where a peice of jargon get's dropped on you. If you think we’ve missed one here tweet it to us @FutureRising.



A piece of business the agency has with a client. Sometimes these accounts will exist for just a single project or may extend over a number of years and multiple projects.

Communication with the users of a product or service with the intention to inform or influence them. For more on advertising, visit our advertising guide.

The company contracted by the client to undertake the required work.

Agency Roster
A brand or company often has a number of agencies it works with, these are all on their agency roster. For example, they may work with an integrated advertising agency, a digital agency, a direct agency and a media agency all at the same time.

Ambient refers to non-traditional or alternative media. So it's when advertising appears in weird and wonderful places.

APAC (Asia Pacific)
Used to state an office, company or group does business in the part of the world in or near the Western Pacific Ocean.

The communicational tools that are already owned by a brand. This will cover anything from their logo, tone of voice, colour palette, website all the way to the social media profiles that they own.

ATL (above the line)
ATL communications are those that go out to mass audiences such as TV adverts and billboards. Typically, it is difficult to measure the effectiveness of ATL communications.


B2B (business to business)
Advertising or marketing aimed at other businesses.

B2C (business to consumer)
Advertising or marketing aimed at individual consumers.

Big idea
An advertising term referring to the overall idea behind an advertising campaign. To be called big, the idea must be simple, easy to understand and must connect with the audience. While individual adverts in a campaign may all be very different, the big idea stays the same throughout.

This is common term used to mean portfolio.

Creating a name, symbol, design, and a personality that aims to identify and differentiate a product or company from others. For more on branding, visit our branding guide.

BTL (below the line)
BTL communications are those that go out to niche, targeted audiences including online advertising and direct marketing. Typically, BTL is highly measurable. E.g. with online advertising you can track exactly who clicks and how many times they click.

The amount of money the client has to spend on completing the project.


The term used to group the activities of a company or agency in advertising a product, service or brand. A campaign runs for a set period of time with set deliverables but is often refined, developed and improved as it progresses.

Campaignable idea
An idea that works across multiple adverts and multiple types of media.

Stands for Chief Creative Officer.

CD (creative director)
Manages creative teams and their creative output.

Change request
Over the course of a project, the deliverables and activities may need to be adjusted. If these are significant, the client and agency will agree a change request.

Chemistry meeting
Where a client and agency get together to discuss a project. The aim of the meeting is to see if the two teams can get along and that there is shared values and ambition between them.

The company that is paying an agency, studio or freelancer to create work for them. The term client is also used to refer to the person, within that company, who communicates with the agency and is in charge of the project.

Client brief
The client's requirements according to the client. They will brief the agency at the beginning of a project to say how they want to proceed and what they want to get out of it.

Client Roster
Almost all agencies work with multiple brands and companies. This list forms an agency's client roster (and can usually be found in whole or in part on their website).

Client services
The team in charge of managing an agency's clients.

CPC (cost per click)
The price you pay for each click your online advertisement recieves.

CPM (cost per mille)
This is a measurement in media. It is the amount it will cost to reach one million members of your audience through a particular media vehicle. The lower the cost per mille the better.

CPT (cost per thousand)
This is a measurement in media. It is the amount it will cost to reach one thousand members of your audience through a particular media vehicle. The lower the cost per thousand the better.

Competitive intelligence
Conducting research, or gathering intelligence on various market factors such as products, customers and competitors.

The person who may buy your product or service or engage with your brand.

The agreement between the client and agency.

Text. Any writing see in an advert is referred to as copy (Including things such as the headline and tagline). Text is also called copy in any marketing materials (including websites and blogs) and in journalism too.

Creative brief
An agency will work with a client brief and form a strategy for accomplishing the work. They will then distill this into a creative brief (usually no longer than two A4 pages) for the creatives at the agency who will bring the strategy to life with their ideas. A creative brief will usually include the insight, proposition, target audience, budget and media choices or recommendations.

CRM (customer relationship management)
A strategy for managing all the relationships and interactions a company has with its customers.

CSR (corporate social responsibility)
When a company incorporates social or environmental concerns into their business operations. May also affect their advertising and marketing.


A group of presentation slides.

Statistical data relating to audience members. E.g. Their gender, income, location, family size, etc.

Aims to solve a visual or physical problem in the world. For more on design, visit our design guide.

Digital agency
An agency that specialises in producing digital communications for it's clients.

Digital media
Digital media can be created, viewed and distributed on computers (including mobile devices). It includes software, blogs, video, websites and social media.

DM (direct mail)
Physical mail that is sent directly to consumers with the purpose of promoting or selling an idea, service or product.

Direct marketing
When you sell directly to the customer. For example, using direct mail, emails or phone calls to contact the customer and sell to them.

This term represents the gathering of information and knowledge on an area of interest. Sometimes referred to as big data or smart data, it is used to support decision making.


Earned media
Media space that a company gets for free such as news stories and word of mouth.

EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Asia)
Used to state an office, company or group does business in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Also used on job titles where people are in charge of operations across those territories.

A catch-all term for when consumers interact with a brand or its advertising. For example, a Facebook Like.

The various ways an idea takes form. E.g. there may be one big campaign idea, but each TV, magazine and radio advert is a separate execution.


You receive feedback when sharing the work you or your agency has done to the client, colleagues or peers.

FMCG (fast moving consumer good)
These are products that sell quickly and at a low cost, such as canned food, condiments, cleaning products, chocolate, soft drinks, toiletries, etc. Sometimes referred to as CPG (Consumer Packaged Groups).

Being self-employed and working for various different brands or agencies on different projects for varying amounts of time.

FrequencyThe number of times a typical audience member will see an advert. Traditionally, media planners aimed to have a frequency of three.


Traditionally communicating through sticker bombing, graffiti and flyposting, nowadays making use of what exists in people's environments or organising flash mobs.


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The short animations or videos that tell you which television channel you are watching. E.g. When the Channel 4 logo pops up between shows.

When work is completed by employees within a company instead of outsourcing to an agency or freelancers.

Communications that appear indoors. For example on the London underground or inside taxis.

A nugget of information gleamed from research that may form the basis of a big idea. Usually based on a core truth of human behaviour.

Integrated agency
An agency that specialises in campaigns that work across multiple media.

A measure of the number of times an advert has been seen. For example, estimating the number of people who visited a bus stop or counting the number of times an online advert was displayed (but not necessarily clicked).


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KPI (key performance indicator)
KPIs are identified by a company who wants to assess the performance of it's communications. They are based on what the campaign or project aimed to achieve and must be something that is easy to measure. For example, number of people engaging on Facebook or number of visitors to the company's website.


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Selling products and services, including but not limited to advertising, market research, content management and social media. For more on marketing, visit our marketing guide.

Delivering a marketing message for a client’s brand or product in the right place and at the right time. For more on media, visit our media guide.

Media buying
Buying media space from media owners.

Media channel
The means used to transmit an advertising/marketing message. For example: ITV, Absolute Radio, The Guardian newspaper, etc.

Media planning
Deciding where best to show advertising communications based on reach, frequency and behaviour.

Media space
Any place where an advert or piece of communication can appear. For example a bus stop or an advert break on TV.

Media owner
A company that owns media channels and sells media space on those channels. Such as ITV and The Guardian or Facebook and Google.

Media vehicle
The type of media used to transmit an advertising/marketing message. For example: TV, Radio, Newspaper, etc.


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Owned media
Media channels that a company owns such as their website or social media profiles.

Outdoor/OOH (out of home)
Communications that appear outdoors such as posters and billboards.


Paid media
Media space that a company pays a media owner for, such as a TV spot or billboard.

The process of presenting ideas to a client in order to win their account. Sometimes, multiple agencies may pitch for the same account.

The universal term for strategy in advertising.

PPC (pay per click)
PPC advertising is where a company pays a fee every time someone clicks on their advert (such as those seen at the top of a Google search). The company will set a maximum amount for each advert and the total spend for a day, week, month or year.

POS (point of sale)
Media space that's located at the point where customers can purchase the product. E.g. displays in shops and on checkouts.

Press adverts
Printed adverts that appear in the press such as those in newspapers and magazines.

Printed communications such as adverts in newspapers, posters or physical marketing materials.

A description of any services to be undertaken and the cost of those services when agreeing a project.

A way of describing a brand's core offering to potential customers.

Classifying people based on their interests, attitudes, aspirations, etc.


Qualitative research
Research that tries to gain a deeper understanding of opinions and motivations.

Quantitative research
Research with statistical results.


Communications that run on the radio including sponsorship and traditional adverts that run between and throughout radio shows.

The total number of people a campaign reaches.

Retainer fee
The money a client pays in advance to secure the services of an agency. The agency will then be "on retainer" for the client.

RFP (request for proposal)
One of the first steps taken by a company who wants to procure the services of another. It outlines the opportunity available and is given to companies so they can decide wether or not to pitch for the work.


Senior people
The owners/directors/decision makers in a company who are ultimately responsible for the service, brand or product provided.

Sheet is the unit of measurement for outdoor print adverts (based on a traditional poster size or single sheet). A six sheet poster is the standard for bus stops. Billboards can be all sorts of shapes and sizes from 32 sheet to 96 sheet.

A document generally related to more technical projects where an agency will determine how everything will work. Typically used for a website or mobile application.

Social media channels
Online networks of people that can be targetted by a piece of marketing communication. The best known examples are Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts.

SEO (search engine optimisation)
Manipulating your website, content and online presence to appear higher up in paid and unpaid rankings on a search engine.

Slang term for account handlers/executives.


TTL (through the line)
A TTL campaign is one that utilises both types of media: Above The Line (ATL) and Below The Line (BTL)


Target audience
This is the group of people that a piece of communication is aimed at.

A group of people in the agency or company responsible for delivering work.

A structured invitation to vendors for the supply of goods or services.

A proposal of how any work undertaken will progress from day to day and month to month. Includes what needs to be done, in what order, by which person and to what deadlines.

A method for measuring and recording the amount of time an employee spends on each project. In the creative industries, timesheets are primarily used to help an agency figure out how much to charge clients.

Tone of Voice
The personality and manner in which a brand communicates with its audience.

Traditional agency
An agency that specialises in traditional media such as TV, outdoor or direct mail.

Communications that appear on TV including product placement and sponsorship as well as traditional adverts that run between TV shows.


UGC (user generated content)
Where content, such as images and posts, are created and uploaded by users of a platform, competition or brand rather than being produced by an actual organisation. E.g. Wikipedia is all user generated content.

USP (unique selling point)
Any aspect of the product that is unique and appealing to customers.


If something goes viral it means it has been quickly shared between relatively large numbers of people within a group.

W, X, Y & Z

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