Glossary of Media Terms | Lincoln Media

Glossary of Media Terms

Television Direct Response

Industry Terms, Buzz words and acronyms…

Ad Allowable: The budget per sale; how much you can afford on a cost per order basis. The max you can pay to create a sale, expressed as dollars per unit sold or lead generated.

Affidavit: Created by the TV station or cable network documenting their allotted commercial run times and specific prices paid.  The official “proof of performance” of what the media ran and what you agreed to pay.

Airing: The broadcast of an infomercial or DR spot in a specific time slot.

Airtime: Media time slots a network or broadcast station has slated for the placement of infomercial programs

Area of Dominant Influence (ADI): A television marketing area defined by Arbitron.  Each county in the U.S. is assigned to only one market according to where the majority of household viewing hours are directed.

Audience Composition: The classifications of a program’s audience into specific demographic categories.

Audience Flow: A custom study of audience from a rating book. It shows people or households who turn on or off a program, switch to or from another station, or remain on the same station as the previous program.

Avails: Commercial inventory (Time) on a station or network available for sale.

Average Take: Term used by continuity marketers to describe the average number of orders a consumer will make once entering a continuity program. For example, a music club member may take an average of 6 CD’s before canceling their membership.

Broadcast Day: Start date and time to begin airing infomercial.

Back-end sales: Product transactions occurring after the initial direct television sale generated by a long or short form DRTV infomercial.

Bonus: An attractive extra product or service added to the key infomercial product.

B-roll: Footage shot expressly to “cover” narration or interview copy.  The audio from these shots is generally used as background audio or “sound under”.  Same as “cover footage”.

Call to Action (CTA): The segments of an infomercial program that is created to motivate the customer to call and order the product.

Campaign: Term used to describe a product’s advertising plan and execution, from development, through production and media placement.

Clearance: A term used by short-form media buyers to indicate which part of their media order, or campaign, in any given day or week was actually broadcast.

Clutter: Is defined as all non-programming content, which includes network and local commercial time, public service announcements (PSAs), public service promotions (PSPs), promotions aired by broadcast and cable networks, program credits not run over continuing program action, and “other” unidentified gaps within a commercial pod.

Comparables: A media time slot or slots that had previously aired an infomercial with a product of similar demographic appeal to the product being analyzed.

Continuity Program: An infomercial/DRTV that offers the first in a series of products, often for a lower-than-normal price. The consumer is then encouraged to continue purchasing the rest of the series at a higher price.  Extensively used for music and book series.  Concept also successfully employed for beauty, diet products and self-developmental products.

Copy: Term used by advertisers and agencies to specify the written or spoken words in a commercial.

Cost of Goods (COG): The direct cost involved with the manufacture and packaging of a specific product.

Cost per Lead (CPL): The average cost of television media to generate one lead or telephone call requesting more information on the product.

Cost per Order (CPO): The average cost of television media to generate one product order, determined by dividing the cost of a specific infomercial telecast by the total number of orders received from it.

Counter Programming: Scheduling a program, which appeals to a certain type of audience against other programs, which appeal to a different type of audience.

Coverage area: A geographic area where a broadcast signal can be received.

Cumulative Audience (CUME): The non-duplicated audience for one or more programs or spots, which can be expressed in ratings or thousands. Cut-In: A commercial on a station substituted for a network commercial during a nationally televised program. Used for copy testing.

Daypart: Refers to the various multiple hour slots of television’s 24-hour broadcast day.

Dayparts are typically segmented as follows:

  • 6a – 9a Early Morning
  • 9a – 12n Morning
  • 12n – 4p Daytime
  • 4p – 6p Early Fringe
  • 6p – 7p Early News
  • 7p – 8p Prime Access
  • 8p – 11p Prime
  • 11p – 11:30p Late News
  • 11:30 – 1a Late Fringe
  • 1a – 6a Late Night

Designated Market Area (DMA): The Nielsen Ratings company term to describe a specific TV market area. Nielsen has determined there are 211 distinct TV markets in the US.

Direct Marketer: In the infomercial industry, an infomercial direct marketer is a company that manufactures or sources products that executes an infomercial campaign while retraining ownership in the product sales. They differ from an infomercial agency which has no ownership.

Direct Response (DR): The marketing and sales methodology of bypassing standard retail stores to make a product sale directly to the consumer.

Direct Response Television (DRTV): An all-inclusive term describing anything sold directly over television, most often bypassing traditional retail stores. DRTV is divided into three primary marketing subgroups: short form, long form, (infomercials) and live home shopping.

Dubs / Dubbing: The video duplication of a DRTV commercial for distribution to TV stations and cable networks for airing.


Electronic Marketing: The direct response, marketing and sales methodology that uses electronic media, such as: TV, radio, online, CD ROM, or electronic kiosks.

Electronic Media: The media of television, radio, fax, phone, kiosks, CD ROM and computers.  It is distinguished from print (newspapers, magazines, catalogs or letters) and outdoor media.

Erosion: The “diminishing effect” on viewers, media buy and response volume.  After a specific infomercial has aired for a number of weeks/months, order response levels begin to drop.


Firesale: The term to describe the last minute sudden dumping of infomercial media into the media buying marketplace. It usually occurs because some agency has just cancelled the same media time.

Flight: A term used by short form media buyers to describe a specific number of spots airing during one week, or more, period on a specific TV station or cable network.

Format: Refers to the creative concept governing the overall structure of an infomercial.

Frequency: The number of times the infomercial will play in a specific TV market over a specified time period, and the number of times the average individual will see the same commercial.

The warehousing, packaging, labeling, shipping and tracking information related to an infomercial product.

Gross Impressions: Total number of any demographic category in thousands delivered by an advertiser’s schedule.

Gross Rating Points (GRP): Total number of rating points, either households or demo, delivered by an advertisers schedule.


Homes Using Television (HUT): The percentage of homes watching television at any particular time.

Household: Term used by media buyers to refer to home with one or more televisions.
Households/Subscriber base: Number of Households that have access to view a particular cable program.

Identification (ID): A 10 second announcement (or less). There are both station Ids and commercial Ids.

Impression: The impact of watching a TV commercial.

Independent: A commercial television station that is not affiliated with a network.

IMS: Infomercial monitoring service.

Inbound Telemarketer: Telephone service companies that have multiple WATTS lines and operators to answer inquiries and take orders from DRTV commercials.  Payment to these companies is either by the call or by the second for connect time.

Inbound Marketing: The service provided to infomercial marketers; involves setting up and maintaining a phone bank for customer inbound calls wanting to order or requesting more information about the product or service.

Independent Broadcast Station: Any television station which is not affiliated with a network (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Paramount, Warner).

Inquiry: The telephone response generated by a DRTV commercial which does not result in an order.

Interconnect: The connecting of two or more local cable systems (by wire or microwave) in order to telecast shared commercials or programs simultaneously.

Lead-in: The program which immediately precedes the infomercial.

Lead Generation: Proceeding in two steps; involves an offer where the viewer is asked to call a toll-free number for more information. An inbound sales rep captures the name, address, and phone number of the potential customer. Free information is sent in the form of letters, brochures, videotapes and/or product samples.  If the lead doe not respond additional information is sent.  The advertiser may follow up a lead, additionally or exclusively, with outbound telemarketing.

Lead-out: The program which immediately follows the infomercial.

Local Cable: One of more than 11,000 local cable systems serving communities of all sizes, and are most often owned by large MSO’s.  Because they are locally operated, it is possible to by infomercial media time on a local, community by community basis.

Long Form: Any television commercial longer than two minutes. (Usually, but not always, 30 minutes in length.)

Make Good (Bonus): An infomercial telecast provided by a station or network, often at reduced or no cost, to compensate for a station error or poor performance from a previous media purchase.

Market: Term used by advertisers to describe a distinct geographic area surrounding a city or cities that is the area of dominant influence for that city’s broadcast TV stations.

Mark-up: A ration, such as 3 to 1 or 5 to 1, derived by dividing a products retail cost by its cost of goods (COG).  For example, a product costing $20 to manufacture, and retailing for $100 has a mark-up of 5 to 1.  Because of increasing media costs, the bench mark product mark-up for infomercial products rose from 3 to 1 in 1984, to 5-1 in 1994.

Master: The original, final edit version of a completed infomercial.

Master Dub: The dub of the master with the specified 800 number included. From this other dubs with the same 800 number will be made for other TV markets.

Media Agency: An infomercial agency which provides only media buying and analysis services.

Media Cost: The price paid for a specific time slot, or flight (group) of spots on cable or broadcast stations.

Media Efficiency Ratio (MER): The total number that decides an infomercial’s overall success or failure. Dividing total sales by the media cost derives the ratio.  Example, if you buy a half hour of time for $1000 and it generates $3000 in sales, the MER is 3.  Sales/Media Cost = MER

Merchant Account: A contracted agreement between a merchant or business owner selling a product and the credit card company responsible for collecting the sale proceeds. The most common types involve the big three: VISA, Master Card, AMEX, or their derivatives.

National Cable: Cable network that broadcasts its signal via satellite to numerous local cable systems nationwide. There are more than 50 national cable networks with new additions coming on the air all the time.


One-step Offer: A DRTV offer that requests the viewer call the 800# (or write) and purchase the featured product with his/her credit card.

One-time Only (OTO): An infomercial time slot which is not available on a regular basis, but will be sold just this one time.

Per Inquiry (PI): Usually a small broadcast stations’ policy of accepting payments for an infomercial’s broadcast in the form of a percentage of sales.

Per Order: Same as per Inquiry.

Post Production: Final integration of audio, video, and graphic elements to create a finished production.

Preemption: An abrupt removal of a previously scheduled infomercial (or any) broadcast. It happens most often for a breaking news story.

Production: The actual shooting of film or videotape of the infomercial script elements

Program Schedule: Long term program guide of regularly scheduled television shows.


Response: This term is used often interchangeably with “results” in an infomercial telecast.

Roll-out: The stage of an infomercial campaign where, through a media test, it has been determined that the infomercial is a success and ready for regional or national distribution.  Typical national distribution is reached through a gradual release over 2 to 4 months.

The % of homes with televisions in the market that are tuned to a particular program at a particular time.

Run of Station (ROS): The discount purchase of short-form commercial media time stipulating run times at the station’s discretion.

Selling Cycle: Infomercials generally break down into three sections, each of which is a selling cycle that puts out the same basic selling information but is packaged differently. All the elements are there in terms of a strict order, which are: features, benefits, credibility, substantiation, guarantee, offer, and call to action.

Share: Refers to the percentage of households using television who are watching a specific program.  (Rating X Share = HUT)

Shipping and Handling: The consumer’s cost, which is stated on the billboard, and is additional to the stated product price.

Short-form: Any DRTV commercial that is two minutes or under in length. 30’s, 60′s, 90′s, and 120′s (seconds).

60’s, 90’s, 120’s: This refers to the length (in seconds) of short form commercials.

Spill-in: The percentage of viewers in a specific market that is directed to TV stations originating outside of the market.

Standard Rate and Data Service (SRDS): A widely used publication which details information about broadcast TV stations management, personnel, county coverage and commercial rates.

Super: Graphics and text which is superimposed over other video/film.

Sweeps: A 4 week period, held 4 times per year by Nielson, in which all U.S. TV stations are measured for viewer levels and demographic breakdown.

Target Audience: A specific demographic category an advertiser wants to reach with its commercials.

Turnover: (Audience) tune-in and tune-out. The departure of part of an audience (households or persons) during the course of a program or schedule, and the arrival of new audience not tuned in earlier.

Telemarketing: Inbound and outbound telephone calls used to generate sales.

Ultra High Frequency (UHF): Television channels 14 through 83.

Universe: An estimated number of households or people within a survey area.

Universal Product Code (UPC): A bar code placed on a product to be read by a scanner. The code consists of a System Number, Manufacture Number and an Item code.

Upsell: The sale of an additional product or service offered to an infomercial product purchaser at the time of their initial telephone order.

Very High Frequency (VHF): Television channels 2 through 13

Voice Over: The voice in the background heard as the narrator.

No terms for W, X, Y, Z

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