MCRC: Glossary of Terms

At a glance

This glossary defines terms that are used on the Media Campaign Resource Center (MCRC) website or that may appear in communications from MCRC administrators in response to inquiries about ads or requests for ad cost information.

Glossary of Terms



The standard codes used to identify radio and video ads. Formerly ISCI Code.

Advertisement or Ad

One advertisement available in the MCRC collection. An ad can be available in several formats, such as different print sizes or running times. Related ads can be grouped in a campaign. All ads have a title, theme, and type defined.


Delivery of a persuasive message about a product, service, or idea to a large group of people at a single time through the use of mass media.

Ads in Cycle

An advertisement is “in cycle” once the initial portions of holding fees, session fees, and other related talent fees are paid. Once an ad is in cycle, other organizations across the U.S. can add their local markets to the ad’s cycle at a much-reduced cost, within the given expiration dates. Only ads that are produced under SAG-AFTRA union contracts qualify for this status.

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)




A common name for paper or vinyl outdoor signs located along streets and highways.

Body Copy

The text within a print advertisement that helps qualify or further explains the headlines or sub-headlines.

Broadcast (Radio)

Local broadcast radio, sometimes referred to as "Radio Wild Spot."

Broadcast (Video)

Local broadcast television, sometimes referred to as "Television Wild Spot."

Bus King

A type of outdoor transit advertising designed for the outside of buses.

Bus Shelter

A type of transit advertising designed for the shelters at bus stops. Can also be used inside or outside train stations.



Local cable use.

Camera Ready

An ad, art, copy text, or graphic ready for inclusion in publications.

Campaign (searchable)

An advertising effort on behalf of a particular product, service, or issue that lasts for a specified period of time; is intended to generate specific outcomes or effects; and targets a relatively large number of people. A single campaign generally is based around a common theme and target audience and often includes ads in several media types. In addition to referring to the advertising effort, campaign can also refer to the set of materials used in a specific advertising effort and convey the message across several media types. Ads can be created specifically for a campaign or pulled together from existing sources.

Catalog ID

Codes assigned by MCRC to identify individual ads in the collection.


For publications, the total number of copies that are distributed, usually a total of subscriptions plus single copies sold.


A short advertisement, message, or announcement recorded in an audio or audiovisual format, 3 minutes or less in length, intended for television or radio use, which may be either a public service announcement, a paid advertisement, or both.


Any text to be included in an advertisement.


A legal term referring to protection granted an individual or organization against the use of an original work without express consent.

Cost (Searchable)

Indication of whether an ad is provided free or at a cost.

Cost Range (Searchable)

Options to search for ads within a specific dollar range.


Any efforts or campaigns aimed at countering the advertising by the tobacco industry and other pro-tobacco influences. Counter-advertising seeks to replace these pro-tobacco messages and influences with persuasive, pro-health, anti-tobacco messages. This can take many forms including television, radio, print, billboard, theater, and other out-of-home advertising.


Refers to marketing and communications efforts aimed at countering the marketing efforts (including but not limited to advertising) of the tobacco industry and other pro-tobacco influences. Counter-marketing can include such efforts as media advocacy, media relations, in-school curriculum programs, and sponsorships and promotions, as well as paid counter-advertising.


The percentage of households or individuals in a designated area that have access to a specific advertising medium.



The different segments of the broadcast day (For example, daytime, prime time, and early fringe).

Date Added

Date an ad was included in MCRC.

Date Produced

Year an ad was created.


The TV daypart that generally begins at 9 AM and ends at 5 PM.


A brief synopsis of the advertisement.

Digital Use (Radio)

Payment that covers all digital uses of an audio ad, including on websites and apps and, including streaming platforms, such as Pandora and Spotify.

Digital Streaming (Video)

Payment for platforms such as Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc., or ads streamed through smart devices such as Roku, Amazon Fire, etc. Digital Streaming is also considered a master digital use category, and payment of this fee would also include any other type of digital use within the same cycle dates.

Digital Traditional/Social (Video)

Payment category covering any website, YouTube, and all social media use.

Drive Time

The peak period for radio listenership. Drive time is normally between 6 a.m. and 10 AM and 3 PM and 7 PM, when people are driving to and from work.


Early Fringe

The daypart between daytime and primetime, generally 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EST.


A specific advertisement. (Note: There may be several different executions with the same advertising strategy.)

Execution Style

Tone of an ad, such as hard-hitting, humorous, or serious.



A period of time during which a concentration of radio or television commercials are aired.


The average number of times an audience is exposed to a specific advertising message over a period of time—typically 4 weeks.


Gaming/Virtual Platforms (Video)

Payment refers to ad use on services like Twitch or Xbox.


The overall improvement the program will strive to create.

Gross Rating Points (GRPs)

Exposure to paid media ads, particularly broadcast video and radio ads, is measured by Gross Rating Points (GRPs). Campaigns with high GRPs reduce adult smoking prevalence, increase the likelihood of quitting, and increase quit attempts. GRPs are calculated by multiplying the percentage of the audience potentially reached by the number of times the audience will potentially see an ad. For example, 1,000 rating points means 100% of the audience will potentially be exposed to 10 ads or 50% will potentially be exposed to 20 ads. CDC Best Practices 2014 suggests that ads have enough GRPs to reach between 75% and 85% of the intended audience each quarter. Your media vendor should be able to provide you with your ad's or campaign's estimated number of GRPs. (Source: CDC Best Practices User Guide for Health Communications in Tobacco Prevention and Control).


See Gross Rating Points (GRPs).


Holding Fees

In paid broadcast and cable television advertising, fees paid to retain principal performers in commercials. These are paid in 13-week cycles, regardless of whether the commercials are actually aired. There are no holding fees for radio.


Internet (Radio)

Ad will appear on the internet on a url-based site, includes music subscriptions services such as Pandora or Spotify. This terminology was phased out of use in 2023.

Internet (Video)

Ad will appear on the internet on a url-based site and is prevented from being downloaded. This terminology will be phased out of use in 2023.


Key Message

Main idea an ad is intended to convey, such as the negative health effects of smoking or the benefits of quitting.


Language (Searchable)

Language(s) in which an ad is available.

Late Fringe

A TV daypart that follows prime time, usually from 11:30 PM to 1:30 AM EST (or later).


Length of time, in seconds, for a video or audio ad.

Live Announcer Spot

A type of radio advertising in which the sponsor supplies a script to be read live on the air by the station announcer or radio personality.

Live Announcer Tag

A disc jockey or announcer from the radio station comes "on the air" and reads your tag, live, after the produced spot has played.


(Media) Campaign (searchable)

See Campaign.

Media Plan or Media Buy Plan

A part of the communications plan that details how various media will be employed. Identifies the specific schedule of paid placements that have been negotiated for an ad or collection of ads, including the times and programs during which television and radio ads will run, the locations and sizes of billboards that will be placed, the publications and placement within those publications in which print ads will run, etc. The media plan also contains a summary of expected target audience reach and frequency.

Media Strategy

A part of the marketing plan that specifies how media will be used to accomplish marketing objectives.

Media Type (searchable)

Presentation of an ad, such as television, radio, print, or out-of-home. Also referred to as media vehicle, media channel, or media outlet.


Composer or performer of the music heard in the advertisement.



In broadcasting, a group of stations affiliated by contract and usually interconnected for the simultaneous broadcasting of programs (e.g., ABC, CBS).

New Media (Radio)

Digital communications, such as ads pushed to digital devices like tablets and mobile phones, ads that users can download, and ads delivered through podcasts. This terminology will be phased out of use in 2023.

New Media (Video)

Digital communications, such as ads pushed to digital devices like tablets and mobile phones through another means than a url (like being pushed through cell phone data), ads that users can download, and ads delivered through podcasts. This terminology will be phased out of use in 2023.


Use in countries outside the United States.



A quantifiable statement of a desired program achievement necessary to reach a program goal.

Optimal Placement

Recommendation on where or when an ad should be placed. Recommendations are based on factors such as an ad's target audience or key message, and the media used to reach the target audience, such as a television show or billboard location. For example, optimal placement for an ad to target smokeless tobacco users might be television spots during a baseball game.

Outdoor Advertising

Signs or billboards placed along streets and highways, in both painted and poster formats.


Printed ad that is displayed outside of the home, such as on billboards, taxis, bus shelters, and the sides of city buses, as well as in transit stations, airports, and malls.

Out-of-Home (outdoor billboard) standard dimensions classifications

  • 30-sheet posters: standard copy size is approximately 9'.7" H x 20'7" W. Most common outdoor poster-type format for message exposure to resident, pedestrian, and commuter traffic; may be used for general or specific markets
  • 8-sheet posters: standard copy size is approximately 5' H x 11' W. Best use for metropolitan neighborhoods or near point of sale/purchasing; to reach hard-to-get audiences that are infrequently exposed to other print media.
  • Bulletins: standard copy area on most bulletins is approximately 14' H x 48' W. The largest out-of-home advertising, this format is usually illuminated—impact due to size, color, placement, and lighting.


Paid Advertising or Paid Media

Ads that you pay to place in any medium. Because they are paid, the advertiser controls the placement and content of messages, making them very useful in targeting specific audience segments.

Pre-Testing Only

Refers to testing an ad with a sample of the target population to determine its effectiveness.


A continuous period of time not less than 3 hours per broadcast day as designated by the station. Usually 8p.m.-11 p.m. EST, 7a.m.-10 p.m. CST, and 8p.m.-11 p.m. PST.

Print Ad Dimensions Classifications

The standard sizes of print ads include:

  • 8 ½" x 11" or 8 ½" x 11" spread (finish is 11" x 17")
  • 11" x 17" (tabloid size) or 11" x 17" spread (finish is 17" x 22")
  • Full Page 7" x 9"
  • Half-page 5 ½" x 8 ½" horizontal or 8 ½" x 5 ½" vertical
  • Quarter-page 5 ½" x 4 ¼"

Many ads can be adjusted somewhat for slightly different page sizes

Produced by

Ad agency or organization that produced an ad.

Produced for (searchable)

Health or tobacco control organization that paid for or arranged for production of an ad.

Produced Radio Spot

Radio advertisement that has been prerecorded.

Produced (Recorded) Tag

A tag that is recorded in a studio and added to the end of a spot.


A copy of an advertisement as it will appear once it has been produced or printed.

Public Service Announcement (PSA)

Any advertising intended for the public good that is placed free of charge. Usually refers to commercials intended for nonpaid placement on television or radio, in accordance with the Public Service Announcement/Government Agency Messages waiver provisions of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) Commercials contract. Also used informally for nonpaid placement on print and out-of-home vehicles.



The number of people or households that will be exposed to a specific advertising message over a period of time, typically 4 weeks.


Information on users' experience with the ad. This may include information such as amount of airplay, calls generated, or anecdotal information on public response to the ad.



A union representing actors, announcers, and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA was formed from two unions: Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).


Written text of a video or radio ad, such as character dialog, audio/visual effects, and stage directions.


Dimensions of a print or out-of-home ad. Ads can be produced in a number of standard and custom sizes. Each size is identified with a separate order code.

Social Media Materials

Coverage of a story without payment for media placements. Such coverage is achieved through development of materials (e.g., letters to the editor, op-eds, Swiss cheese, etc.), working with reporters (e.g., by holding press conferences, proactively contacting reporters), and expending resources (although not directly for message placement in stories).


An ad; a public notice published in the press or broadcast over the air.


Plan for communicating an ad to best effect.

Supporting Material

Ancillary material used to support and reinforce a media advertising campaign such as toolkits, tent cards, static clings (other promotional items like imprinted pens, mugs, notepads, table toppers, etc.), presentation charts, news releases, letters, films, catalogs, booklets, trade show exhibits, point-of-purchase displays, buttons, widgets, and other web-based materials, and annual reports.



Information identifying an organization sponsoring an ad or a local agency associated with a sponsor. A tag can include contact information such as a telephone number or Web site. Related terms: Sniping, Tag Notes, Tag Times

Tag Time (Tagging)

Time, in seconds, available to insert a tag at the end of a television or radio ad. Related terms: Tag, Tag Notes, Length

Tag Notes

Any extra information relating to the tag for an ad. Related term: Tag


Primarily refers to actors used in advertising. Can also refer to voice performers, musicians, etc.

Target Audience (searchable)

Group of people an ad aims to reach and influence, such as teens or women.

Target Market Profile

A demographic and psychographic description of a target market.


Results from focus groups and other market research to gauge the potential effectiveness of a message, concept, or ad. Related term: Reactions.

Theatrical/Industrial/Educational Use (Video and Radio)

Non-broadcast use in theatrical, industrial or classroom settings, such as movie theater trailers, sports stadium jumbotrons, gas pump toppers, workplaces, doctor's offices, educational presentations, etc.

Theme (searchable)

Subject or topic conveyed in an ad, such as youth access to cigarettes or prevention of youth smoking.


Descriptive general heading that identifies an ad.

(Media) Type (searchable)

Presentation of an ad, such as television, radio, print, or out-of-home.


Usage Recommendations and Restrictions

Recommendations for using print and out-of-home ads, for example when reduction or expansion is possible to accommodate different print materials; any restrictions on placement of a broadcast media ad, such as airing a radio ad only as a public service announcement.

For more information:

  • Print ad dimensions classifications
  • Out-of-home (outdoor billboard) ad standard dimensions classifications

Usage Type (Ad)

Describes how you plan to use a video or radio ad.

The following ad usage types are available for television.

  • Broadcast
  • Cable
  • Digital Streaming
  • Digital Traditional/Social Media
  • Digital Gaming/Virtual
  • Theatrical/Industrial/Educational
  • Non-US
  • Pre-Testing Only
  • PSA Use
  • Other (Not for Social Media Use)

The following ad usage types are available for radio.

  • Broadcast
  • Digital Use
  • Theatrical/Industrial/Educational
  • Non-US
  • Pre-Testing Only
  • PSA Use
  • Other (Not for Social Media Use)

Use Fees

In paid broadcast advertising, the fees paid to performers used in television commercials or radio spots. The fee is based on the number of airplays and the number and size of media markets in which the advertisement will air. Use fees are paid in addition to holding fees.



A recorded tag that is heard during the final few seconds of a spot.