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21 terms to know for success in the social media ad auction

You’ve prepared your creative. Your text is flawless. Your images invite people to stop, look and buy. Now, you’re ready to launch your social advertising campaign.

But before going further, you may want to brush up on your social media ad auction lingo. To help, we’ve compiled the following list of 21 essential terms to know. Understanding how these words relate to the social media ad auction ecosystem will be critical to achieving long-term campaign success.

Ad auction

An online bidding system that matches a keyword query with an ad. For each impression, the social media ad auction system selects the best ads to run based on the ad’s maximum bid and ad performance. All ads compete against each other in the social media ad auction process, with the ad most likely to be viewed or clicked on selected for delivery.

Automatic bidding

A set, daily budget that lets the advertising platform adjust your cost-per-click (CPC) bids. Automatic bidding brings you the most clicks or views possible within your budget.


The maximum amount you are willing to pay for your ad to be shown to a viewer in the social media ad auction. Bids can be automatic or manual (see automatic and manual bidding for additional definitions.)

Bid modification

Choosing to bid more or less within the social media ad auction, based on the target variables most valuable to your campaign. Bid modifications are calculated as percentages, so a +2 modification on your previous bid of $1.00 means your new bid is +20 percent — an additional .20 cents — for a total bid of $1.20.


A set of ad groups (ads, keywords and bids) that share a budget, location targeting and other settings. Campaigns are often used to organize categories of products or services that you offer.


An interactive user interface that resembles a car’s dashboard. A dashboard presents your ad performance metrics in an easy-to-read format.

Demand-side platform (DSP)

A system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one platform.

Demographic targeting

A targeting option that enables you to deliver or not deliver your ad based on a user’s age range, gender or parental status.

Estimated bid

Targeted bids that are estimated based on historical data and/or competitor analysis. Targeted bids are determined by the platform on which your ad will be displayed.

Interest categories

A targeting option that selects users based upon their known interests in specific category types. Users’ interests are captured through their preferences or browser history.

Lifetime budget

The set amount of spend over the lifetime of your ad set.

Likes and interests

A targeting option that enables you to refine your ad’s target audience based on what people have included in their profiles as well as the pages, groups and other things on Facebook they’ve connected with. This includes sections such as interests, activities, favorite music, movies and TV shows.

Location targeting

A targeting variable that sets a geographical location for ad delivery. A user’s device must either be within the radius of your location target or have actively searched (as shown by a search query) for a product, service or place of interest within your set location.

Manual bidding

Active management of your campaign to allow you to bid for the clicks/views that mean the most to your business. Manual bidding is set at either the ad group or individual keyword level and is based on a number of factors, such as past keyword performance and ad placement.

Maximum bid

The highest amount you’re willing to bid in the social media ad auction, also called a “ceiling.”

Minimum bid

The least amount you are allowed to bid in the social media ad auction, also known as the “floor.” Each platform sets its own minimum bid.


The art and science of making changes, such as lowering or raising your bid, to yield higher results for your campaign.

Primary payment method

Your first payment method of choice for advertising.

Spent today

The amount spent on your ad set as of midnight that day.

Suggested bid

In manual bidding, a range to help your select your bid.


Defining an audience for your ad.

Total spend

The complete amount spent at the conclusion of your advertising campaign, social media sponsorship or promotion.

Want more terms?

Take a deep dive into Strike Social’s comprehensive social media advertising glossary.


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