Online Advertising


  • Ad Choices Icon

    The AdChoices Icon (also known as the “Advertising Option Icon”) is a notice embedded in or around advertisements you see online. When you see the AdChoices Icon on a Web page or near a Web banner, it lets you know that information used to infer your interests may be gathered or used to improve the ads you see. It also gives you the ability to control whether you receive Interest-Based Advertising and from which participating companies.

  • Advertiser

    These companies pay to have their advertisements placed on websites. For example, Ford would be the advertiser in a display ad for a Ford Mustang you might see in the auto section of a newspaper. The Coca-Cola Company would be the advertiser for a Sprite banner ad.

  • Advertising

    A tool used to get people's attention and to get people to do, buy, or believe something. Advertising helps brands engage with their customers and potential customers. Advertising subsidizes websites’ delivery of rich content, innovative tools and services used by consumers and businesses to connect and communicate.

  • Browser

    A web browser is the software program you use to retrieve and view webpages and other content on the Internet. The most popular browsers today are Google's Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox, Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and Apple's Safari. These programs are free to download, and users may have more than one browser on their computer or other device. In general, third-party advertising companies associate interest categories or audience segments with a particular browser -- not with a person -- to serve ads. 

  • Cookie

    A cookie is information (a small text file) that a site saves to your computer using your web browser. Cookies make the personalization of your web experiences possible. For example, a cookie may allow sites to record your browsing activities - like what pages and content you've looked at, when you visited, and whether you clicked on an ad. Cookies can help sites remember items in your shopping cart, your log-in name, or your high game scores. Cookies are typically exceedingly small (less than the size of a file containing a short sentence or two) and take virtually no space on or slow down your computer.

  • Exchange

    An ad exchange is a technology platform that facilitates automated, real-time auctions for online advertising. It happens incredibly fast, just as a web page is loading. Think about the "stock exchange." The concept is similar. Because the entire transaction is automated, it is an efficient process for publishers to sell their inventory without a huge sales team and for advertisers to buy impressions.

  • Flash or Flash Cookies

    A Flash cookie is a small file stored on your computer by a website that uses Adobe’s Flash Player technology. When you delete or clear cookies from your browser, you won't necessarily delete the flash cookies stored on your computer. Although it could store information about your online browsing activities and could be used to replace cookies used for tracking and advertising, NAI members do not use Flash or Flash cookies for IBA.

  • Interest-Based Advertising

    Interest-Based Advertising (IBA) means any process used whereby data are collected across multiple web domains owned or operated by different entities to categorize likely consumer interest segments for use in advertising online. The goal of Interest-Based Advertising is to make the ads you see more relevant based on the types of sites you visit on the Web. For example, if you use your computer to search for information about sports, you may receive more ads for sports-related products.

  • IP Address

    An IP address is just that: an address.  You may have seen one before. It would look like something this: This is how computers are able to identify each other and know where to send information over the Internet. in general, your computer or other device is assigned an IP address from the network you are using, and that's then used to send the website data back to your web browser. Your computer's IP address may change over time or as you change locations.

  • Malware

    Malware is short for “malicious software.” It includes viruses and spyware that can get installed on your computer, phone, or mobile device without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash or can be used to monitor and control your online activity. Criminals use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit fraud. Malware is not used for OBA and cookies are not malware.

  • Mobile App

    A mobile app is a software program you can download and access directly using your phone or other mobile device, like a tablet or music player.

  • Network Advertising Initiative

    The NAI develops and oversees the self-regulation of the third-party online advertising industry through enforceable standards and ongoing compliance efforts. Just about every Internet ad served in the US involves technology of one or more NAI companies. Our opt-out tool allows you to opt out of the collection and use of data for OBA by one, or all NAI members.

  • Online Behavioral Advertising (OBA)

    Another term for Interest-Based Advertising. See above for more detail.

  • Opt-In Consent

    Opt-In Consent means that a consumer expressly consents to allow OBA, either in response to a clear and conspicuous request for such consent or at the consumer’s own initiative, prior to engaging in OBA about the consumer. A consumer’s opt-in consent requires affirmative action on the consumer’s part that manifests the intent to opt in.

  • Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

    Personally Identifiable Information (PII): Information not typically used by online advertisers for interest-based advertising that includes name, address, telephone number, email address, financial account number, government-issued identifier, and any other data used or intended to be used to identify, contact or precisely locate a person.

  • Precise Location Information

    Information that describes the precise real-time geographic location of an individual derived through location-based services such as through GPS-enabled devices. NAI members must obtain opt-in consent to use this type of data for OBA purposes.

  • Publishers

    The individual or organization who creates and delivers online content or services such as a website or blog. Publishers generate income for their websites by showing advertisements on the sites. The websites you visit work with NAI members and other advertising companies to provide you with advertising that is as relevant and useful as possible.

  • Re-Marketing

    Re-marketing (also called retargeting) is a form of online advertising in which ads are shown based on products users previously viewed or clicked on. In other words, if a user shops for a pair of shoes on one website, he might later see ads for those shoes while surfing on another site. Re-marketing requires very little information about users. Indeed, a retargeting campaign only requires a single data point -- the fact that a device was browsing on a certain product.

  • Real Time Bidding (RTB)

    RTB is an auction for online advertising. Advertisers place bids on the opportunity to show an ad on a web page. The "real time" part means that it happens very quickly -- in milliseconds -- at the moment a page is loaded.

  • Sensitive Health Information

    Precise information about past, present, or potential future health or medical conditions or treatments, including genetic, genomic, and family medical history. NAI members must obtain opt-in consent to use this type of data for OBA purposes.

  • Third-Party Cookies

    Cookies set by the websites you visit are typically “first-party” cookies. The sites you visit may work with ad networks or other service providers to help provide content or services, including advertising. Those partners also use cookies. But because these partners can only place cookies using their own web domains, they are called “third-party” cookies. NAI members, working with publishers and websites, use third-party cookies to make advertising more engaging to users and more valuable to publishers and advertisers.

  • Web Beacon

    A web beacon enables two websites to share information. A web beacon consists of a small string of software code that represents a graphic image request on a web page or email. There may or may not be a visible graphic image associated with the web beacon and often the image is designed to blend into the background of a web page or email. Web beacons can be used for many purposes - including site traffic reporting, unique visitor counts, advertising auditing and reporting.