Admongo Glossary

See below for a helpful collection of advertising terms and techniques and their definitions. Print out this glossary to hang up in your classroom, or distribute it directly to your students. It will help them understand advertising, remind them of what they learned through the Admongo program, and assist them in being a smarter consumer!

Advertising:  A tool used to get people’s attention and to get people to do, buy, or believe something.  

Association:  Referring to popular values or showing popular images in an ad, so that consumers will transfer their good feelings about the image or value to the advertised product.  Values that may appear in association ads include: popularity, beauty, family, patriotism, wealth, physical fitness, the outdoors, and fun.  Critical thinking question:  What does this product actually have to do with the associated image or value?

Behavioral Advertising:  When a company directs internet advertising to a computer based on what sites the users of that computer have visited.  For example, if you use your computer to search for information about sports, you may receive more ads for sports-related products.

Brand:  The personality of a product or company that is created through its advertising and marketing.

Call to action:  The part of the ad that tells consumers what to do.  A call to action can be express (“call now!”) or implied (“our phones are open now”).  

Claim:  Information about how a product or service works, what it contains, or what benefits it provides.  Examples include statements that a pill will cause you to lose 30 pounds, or that a product is environmentally friendly.  Advertisers are required by law to be truthful, and most advertisers work hard to comply with this law, but remember that ad claims generally are not approved in advance by any government agency.  

Consumer:  Someone who buys and uses products and services.

Disclosure:  Language in an ad that is intended to qualify a claim.  When an ad’s headline states that a pill makes people lose weight, but a small print statement at the bottom of the page states, “when combined with diet and exercise,” that second statement is called a disclosure.  Try to read all of the language in an ad before deciding what it says.    

Fear appeal:  Showing a product or service as a solution for something people worry about, like bad breath, or acne, or body order.  Critical thinking questions:  How worried do I actually feel about this problem?  Will this product really solve this problem?

FTC:  Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency.  The FTC developed the program.

Games:  Presenting a commercial in the form of a game, to let consumers spend time with a product and become more knowledgeable – and more loyal – to it.  Game advertising can be in many places, including on packaging and websites.  

Humor:  Making consumers laugh to catch their attention and make an ad more memorable.  Critical thinking question:  What happens if I separate the humor from the actual product?

Hype:  Using words like greatest, fastest, best ever, amazing and incredible to get consumers excited about a product.  Critical thinking question: Greatest, best ever, or most incredible according to whom?

Licensing:  Paying a fee for the right to use an entertainment character as a part of advertising.  For example, some foods companies pay license fees for the right to feature popular cartoon characters on their packaging, in the hope that kids who like that character will be more interested in the food.    

Logo:  A symbol or graphic design that identifies a product or company.  Over time, a logo can become an association ad, if the company does a good job of linking its name or logo to a value, such as “quality,” or “good value for the money.”  Critical thinking question:  What does this logo say to me, and why do I think this?  

Must-have: The technique of portraying a product or services as something that consumers must have to be happy, popular, or satisfied.  Critical thinking questions:  What can this product really do for me?  

Packaging and labeling:  A product’s outer wrapping and the other information distributed with it, such as package inserts.  Packaging and labeling, like other forms of advertising, are designed to appeal to the target audience.  

Placement:  The process of distributing ads.  Advertisers put their ads in media that they think will best reach the intended target audience, consistent with budget limitations.  

Point of view:  The advertiser’s perspective on and opinions about the product or service being advertised.  For example, a shoe company’s point of view might be that consumers need a different pair of sneakers for every sport, and that their shoes are the best.  The various elements in an ad are selected to reflect the advertiser’s point of view.  Critical thinking questions:  Who is responsible for this ad?  Do I agree with their point of view?”

Prizes, sweepstakes, and gifts:  Offering the chance to win a prize or a gift to make consumers more interested in a product.  Consumers who see a promotion for a prize or gift should keep in mind that the advertiser’s cost for a prize, or to run a sweepstakes, is included in the sale price.  Critical thinking question:  Would I want this product even if there was no prize?

Product placement:  Arranging for product or service’s name or image to be used in a television show, film, or game.  For example, a character might mention the product name; the product may be used as a prop; or a billboard for a product might appear in the background of a film or game.  Sometimes the advertiser pays to for the product placement, but other times the advertiser provides the product for free.  

Point-of-purchase advertising: Advertising that appears inside stores, including signs on the shelves or at checkout, special product displays, and samples.       

Public service announcement (“PSA”):  An advertisement by a government or non-profit organization.  Television and radio stations often air these for free.  

Repetition:  The technique of repeating a message or idea so consumers are more likely to remember it.  Critical thinking question:  Is this product better than others, or am I simply more aware of it?

Sales and price references:   The technique of suggesting that the price is low, or lower than usual, to increase consumer interest.  Examples include percent off sales, use of descriptors such as “low,” and “buy one, get one free” promotions. Consumers should remember to compare the product price to other, similar products to ensure that they are getting a real deal.  Critical thinking question:  Is this product worth what it costs?

Sense appeal:  The technique of using images and sounds to appeal to one or more of the five senses.  For example, an advertiser might include using the sounds and images of a hamburger on a grill.  Advertisers carefully chose the best images and sounds to put in their ads.   Critical thinking question:  Is this an accurate representation of what is for sale?  

Slogans or taglines:  Short phrases, repeated in ads that say something the advertiser wants consumers to remember.  

Special or scientific ingredients:  The technique of giving a product or one of its ingredients a special name that suggests that it must be new and effective.  Critical thinking question:  Is the ingredient really special – or is this just an example of creative advertising?

Sponsorships:  When a business pays to get its name used in connection with an event (the “Acme Race”) or a location (the “Acme Stadium”).  

Target audience:  A group of people to whom advertising is directed.  The process of creating an ad to appeal to a target audience, and of placing it in a location where the target is likely to see it, is called targeting.

Testimonials and endorsements:  When a celebrity, person, or expert talks about his or her own experience with a product.  Keep in mind that advertisers chose what goes into their ads, and will only use positive endorsements and testimonials.  Also, celebrities who appear in ads have usually been paid for their appearance.  

Viral or Word-of Mouth Marketing:   An ad – often in the form of a funny message or video – that is intended to be spread from person to person, either in formal or informal social networks. Critical thinking question:  Is this an ad?  Do I really want to pass it on to my friend?