RBL Growth Glossary

Welcome! This document will share with you, in simple terms, some of the terms in performance marketing and growth so people can be better informed.

Growth FAQ

The definition of “Growth,” growth processes, and growth teams can be misunderstood.  Below is a list of key terms within the Growth ecosystem that can help shed light on a critical piece of product management, marketing, and modern businesses. 

This will define and demystify a lot of the jargon and terminology in performance marketing.

Much of this information is based on our experience with hundreds of clients working in-house in tech, DTC Ecomm, agencies, publicly available data, and our close involvement and appreciation for the Reforge community. If you are working in marketing, growth, and product, Reforge is a must-have training for serious practitioners.

So many acronyms and so little time! 

Collage of RBL client products/services

A/B testing

The process of running a documented experiment to see which user experience delivers a better result than the other via a statistically significant test.


Average Order Value This metric is widely used in the Ecomm DTC space and the affiliate marketing community. The average dollar amount spent each time a customer places an order. This significantly contributes to payout for commission-based affiliate relationships and can significantly impact a partner’s willingness to promote a particular brand. Similarly, this can significantly impact paid media to ensure value is derived from paid campaigns.


Average Revenue Per User. Total Revenue during a specific period of time divided by the active users during that set period of time.

Abandon Rate

The percentage a customer leaves before completing an intended task. This is often used in reviewing the number of users that leave a website before the completion of the purchase.


The process of acquiring customers for your business.


Activating joined affiliates to drive traffic leads, downloads or sales for the first time. This is most often used in affiliate partner and influencer marketing.


An affiliate is a partner that signs up to the advertiser brand terms and conditions and promotes said brand product or service on a pay-per-performance basis.

Affiliate Marketing

Is performance and paid marketing that allows brands to structure payments to partners based on leads, sales, and other value-based outcomes rather than just clicks and eyeballs.


Algorithms act as an exact list of instructions that conduct specified actions step by step in hardware- or software-based routines. When we talk about algorithms, we often talk about Meta, Google, TikTok, MediaMath, TradDesk, Moloco, and other ad platform algorithms in determining, based on several factors, how and when to serve ads to the right person at the right time. The Facebook algorithm evaluates every post, ad, Story, and Reel. It scores content and then arranges it in descending, non-chronological order of interest for each user. This process happens every time a user refreshes their feed. For Meta Ads (Facebook & Instagram) we often look at factors like bidding, ad relevancy score, ad action rate, quality ranking, and engagement rate ranking conversion rate ranking, which are all factors for Meta Ads Algorithm specifically.


Is the process of discovering, interpreting, and communicating significant patterns in data. Analytics helps us gain insights and make meaningful recommendations and decisions from data.


Refers to the target audience that the marketer is attempting to reach.

Baseline Metrics

Aare time-lagged calculations (usually averages) that provide a basis for making comparisons of past performance to current performance. Baselines can also be forward-looking, such as establishing a goal and determining whether the trends show the likelihood of meeting that goal. Caution is recommended. As investors and digital marketers often say: “past performance does not always guarantee or clear indication of future results.”


Beacon marketing is when Bluetooth-powered beacons, interacting with an interface such as a mobile app, utilize a user's proximity to a specific (usually indoor) geographic point or their entrance or exit to a geofenced area to trigger a marketing message, typically in the form of a push notification or in-app message.

Behavioral Targeting

Uses people's activities to determine which advertisements and messages will resonate most with them. It leverages behavioral data—like what people are or are not doing in your app, on your website, or with your campaigns—to trigger personalized marketing. Some types of behavioral targeting.

1. Retargeting - serve up an ad to someone who has been to your site

2. Predictive Targeting - use Machine Learning algorithms to analyze data and predict the products users might need or want to serve them more personalized ads.

3. Geographic Targeting - serving up ads based on a user’s location 

4. PsychographicTargeting - (e.g., values, lifestyle, problems, desires) allows you to serve users with meaningful, relevant, and moving content with the potential to convert. This can require purchasing or collecting psychographic data via qualitative research, e.g., surveys, interviews, or focus groups.


Is a process that involves measuring the performance of your business against a competitor in the same market. This will give you a better understanding of your business performance and potential. This needs to be used cautiously, and brands often get in trouble here as your use case can be pretty different than your competitors—for example, their conversion. Brian Balfour has a great write up about how you need to be very careful with benchmarks and take them with a grain of salt!


The process of placing a bid in a digital ad auction like Paid Search: Google, Paid Social: Meta, or Programmatic, e.g., TradeDesk.


Cost of Acquiring a Customer. This is calculated by your costs divided by the number of customers acquired. CAC is often used as a measure of your performance and marketing efficiency.

CAN-SPAM Compliance

Enacted on December 16, 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets the rules and regulations for all commercial emails. It allows users to opt-out and unsubscribe from their email communications anytime. Non-compliance or violations result in heavy fines and penalties.


The California Privacy Rights Act of 2020, also known as Proposition 24, is a California ballot proposition approved by most voters. It grants CA consumers the right to know how the personal information a business collects is used and shared. It also includes the right to delete personal information collected from them (with some exceptions).


Cost Per Acquisition is similar to CAC and the Cost Per Acquired Customer / Acquisition this term is often used in affiliate marketing, given partners can charge only when a customer is driven or a purchase is made. It is used in all performance marketing and is a critical monitoring metric. Cost Per Action is often used as well.


Cost Per Click measures the Costs of media/clicks driven to understand the cost of bringing a user to your site. This is often seen in Paid Search (Google, Bing), Paid Social (Meta, TikTok, Snap others), and Programmatic (TradeDesk, Moloco). This measure has been widely used since the inception of digital marketing and can help understand efficiency on a per-click basis.


Cost Per Install is used to measure the costs of marketing divided by downloads of your app on the Apple App Store or Google Play app store.


Cost Per Leads Costs of media divided by leads generated. The lead generation field is a lucrative and essential part of the digital marketing ecosystem. It is used widely in Automotive, SaaS B2B, insurance, Medical, and Education verticals.


Cost Per Mille / Cost Per Thousand Views is often used to value media across digital, TV, print, radio, etc.


Click Through Rate. Clicks/impressions. This is the percentage of consumers that click on an ad served to them. It is one of the barometers for your ads' effectiveness and engagement.


Conversion Rate = conversions/visits to the website. This is an excellent measure of purchase intent and understanding how efficiently customers are taking action on your site. It is often used to assess your landing pages' effectiveness in driving a particular consumer action. How many customers convert from one stage to another.


The term cap is often used to refer to a cap a media buyer places on the highest amount they are willing to bid for a click or impression. It can also refer to a cap on media spend/cost per day/time.

Churn Rate

The number of customers that leave a product over time. Customer churn rate is the percentage of your customers or subscribers who cancel or don't renew their subscriptions during a period, such as a month or a year.

Completed Video / View

A user that has watched the entire video in an ad/video ad unit.

Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising refers to placing ads on web pages based on the content of those pages. For example, this could be ads for running shoes on a news article about running, or it could be ads for laptops on a tech E-commerce site.

Contribution Margin

Contribution margin measures the amount of revenue left over after subtracting the variable costs associated with producing a product or service. This measure is used to determine how much each sale contributes to covering fixed costs and, ultimately, the business's profit.


A measured action is usually a lead for submission, but it is more often a converted sale or revenue-based event. Google Analytics defines it as a conversion, a user action you count because you consider it essential, such as a purchase, game level completion, or website or app scroll activity.

Copy Testing

Refers to running experiments to see what ad or website copy performs better by comparing treatment versus the control copy.

Cost Per Action

Overall marketing cost is divided by actions users take for a particular campaign, sometimes used by the abbreviation CPA.

Cross-Device Marketing

Refers to identifying customers across various devices and serving ads and information designed to render seamlessly on whatever devices they use to access the web.

Customer Journey Map

A user journey is a person's experience interacting with something, typically software. This idea is generally used by those involved with user experience design, web design, user-centered design, or anyone else focusing on how users interact with software experiences.

Customer Segmentation

Customer segmentation organizes customers into specific groups based on shared characteristics, behaviors, or preferences to deliver more relevant experiences.

DSP: Demand Side Platform

A DSP allows advertisers to bid for ad impressions on publisher websites. It also enables advertisers to filter their target audience based on specific criteria like location, age, past online behavior, gender, etc. Examples include The Trade Desk, Moloco, Google Ads, Criteo, AppNexus.

Data Enhancement

Generally refers to improving your, or your client's, first-party data with context pulled from additional external sources. This process is called data append, which generally describes adding external data to your records to expand them.

Data Identification

Data identification refers to records that link two or more separately recorded pieces of information about the same individual or entity. When data are structured, identification is more straightforward.

Data Privacy Management

Gartner defines privacy management as a framework or a tool that enables organizations to assess their data processing activities and ensure that they comply with privacy regulations.

Data Visualization

Data visualization is the graphical representation of information and data by using visual elements like charts, graphs, and maps data visualization tools.

Day Part Targeting

Daypart Targeting or Dayparting is an ad-serving campaign tactic used by advertisers to limit the delivery of a campaign to specific times of the day or specific days of the week to target an audience.

Deterministic Matching

Deterministic models provide a single prediction for each input. In contrast, probabilistic models provide a probabilistic characterization of the uncertainty in their predictions and the ability to generate new samples from the model.


Earnings Per 100 clicks. This is a commonly used term in affiliate marketing. Affiliate networks often measure and share this metric to identify if an advertiser or an affiliate (publisher, influencer, partner) will be profitable for you to work with. For example, if you are an advertiser looking for affiliates to work with, you might prioritize affiliates with a high EPC. Similarly, if you are an affiliate, you might work with one advertiser over another if they have a higher EPC.


Measured in breadth and depth, this tracks if a customer is using and interacting with a product or service and if so, how much. Far too often, brands are too focused on acquisition and neglect the importance of retention and engagement.


Google Analytics 4 is an analytics service that enables you to measure traffic and engagement across your websites and apps. This document provides implementation instructions and reference materials geared toward a developer audience.

GA4 is a new kind of property designed for the future of measurement:

1. Collects both website and app data to understand the customer journey better.

2. Uses event-based data instead of session-based.

3. Includes privacy controls such as cookieless measurement and behavioral and conversion modeling.


The General Data Protection Regulation is a Regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the EU and the European Economic Area. The law was created in the European Union (EU) to protect the personal data of its citizens. It went into effect on 25th May 2018. GDPR governs how we can use, process, and store personal data (information about an identifiable, living person). It’s why you see a lot of annoying pop-ups on most sites because websites now have to get your consent before they collect your data with cookies.


Is the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.


Geotargeting (also called geotargeted advertising) is a type of advertising that uses location data to reach consumers with messaging appropriate to their locality and behavior. This technology displays content based on an automated or assumed knowledge of consumers' location.

Google AID

The Google advertising ID is a device identifier for advertisers that allows them to track user ad activity on Android devices anonymously. It has often also been called the Android advertising ID, but it is more commonly used by Google advertising ID (short form: GAID).

Google UAC

Google’s Universal App Campaigns.


Applying the scientific method to your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This often includes marketing engineering, product, analytics design, business strategy, and sales functions to grow a business over time. The modern notion of growth was started by Chamath Palihapitiya while at Facebook. Some practitioners in performance marketing incorrectly refer to their function as growth.

Growth Catalyst

New information that causes evolution to your strategy. Reforge has been a foundational growth training for most all growth-related terminology.

Growth Constraint

The places in your growth model that, if improved, provide the most significant opportunity for growth.

Growth Horizon

Estimation of where and when your growth model runs out of fuel.

Growth Loop

Growth Loops make up your growth model. Growth loops can be utilized for acquisition as well as retention. Businesses can use several growth loop options to grow, such as 1) Paid Marketing, 2) Content Marketing, 3) Viral Marketing, and 4) Sales. A loop requires inputs and outputs and continuous movement. Loops have core properties.

Growth Method

How you will address your Growth Constraint or Growth Horizon.

Growth Model

Your qualitative and quantitative model of how your product grows. The growth model allows you to Communicate, Identify, Set Goals and Metrics, and Make Strategic Bets, deterministic rather than random.

Growth Principle

The guiding principle that distills and connects your model, constraint, and method to your product, experiment, and marketing development process.


Identifier for Advertisers, or IDFA for short, is a unique, random identifier (device ID) that Apple assigns to every iOS device. An IDFA would be the equivalent of a web cookie because it enables advertisers to monitor users' engagement with their ads and keep track of their post-install activity.


How often is your ad shown? An impression is counted when your ad is shown on a search result page or another site, e.g., on the Google Network.


An individual who has gained a following on social media and promotes brands often on a gift, flat fee, pay-per-action, or commission % basis.


In online advertising, an interstitial ad is displayed before or after the expected content. For example, if a pop-up loads before a page's actual content is displayed, it is considered an interstitial.

K Factor

A good K-factor is higher than one, even fractionally. This indicates viral growth and that your K-factor surpasses your churn rate. A K-factor of one indicates stability as your site/app isn't growing or declining. Conversely, a K-factor below 1 reveals that your app's virality is an exponential decline.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Are quantifiable performance measures over time for a specific objective. KPIs provide targets for teams to shoot for, milestones to gauge progress, and insights that help people across the organization make better decisions.

Key differences between First and Third Party Cookies

Google is deprecating third-party cookies on their Chrome browser in 2024. The company announced today that in early 2024, Google plans to migrate 1% of Chrome users to Privacy Sandbox and disable third-party cookies for them. Google's plan to completely deprecate third-party cookies in the second half of 2024 remains on track.


Customer Lifetime Value. A brand's calculation of the value of a customer over a particular amount of time. Total dollar amount a brand makes from a customer.

Landing Page

A landing page is a standalone web page that potential customers can “land” on when they click through from an email, ad, or other digital location. It will not be as fully functional as a brand's website, but it will allow marketers to direct users to a clear path and call to action to drive a more focused outcome.


A lead is a form filled out and completed on your site by a customer. An example is if a user lands on a website and is interested in learning about a SaaS product and completes a form with First Name, Last Name, email address, Company Name, and the number of people at their company.


Marketing Efficiency Ratio. This metric has been commonly used in DTC EComm and tracks Total Sales divided by total spending on advertising.


A Marketing Qualified lead or a lead deemed qualified according to the marketing team's predetermined standards. This is often referenced in B2B Marketing.


Monthly Recurring Revenue is the total amount of predictable revenue every month. This is often referenced for consumer subscriptions and SaaS B2B brands.

Macro Growth Loop

Macro loops include your micro loops and connect them, making them more effective by decreasing your cycle costs and increasing your cycle returns. Here are some example Macro loops: YouTube has a B2C Content Loop that includes data network effects and Cross Side Network effects. WhatsApp has a B2C Social loop that includes Direct Network Effects, Jira is a bottom-up B2B SaaS company with Direct Network and cross-side network effects. Salesforce B2B mid-market utilizes brand and network effects, Casper B2C e-commerce leverages brand and economies of scale, and Thumbtack a Marketplace utilizes cross-side network effects.

Additional Layers of your Micro Growth Model 

1. Acquisition Loops

2. Retention Loops

3. Value Receivers

4. Monetization 

3 Types of Micro Loops and Their Subtypes (another shout out to Reforge)

1. Viral

  • Personal Loop
  • Financial Loop 
  • Social Loop

2. Content

  • Company Generated Content (CGC) Loop
  • User-Generated Content (UGC) Loop
  • Social Generated Content (SGC) Loop

3. Paid

Ad Loop

  • Company Distributed
  • Supply Distributed
  • Partner Distributed

Sales Loop

  • Company Distributed
  • Supply Distributed
  • Partner Distributed

Integration Loop


Marketing Technology.

Marketing Mix

"Marketing mix" is a general phrase used to describe the different choices organizations have to make when bringing a product or service to market. For example, a growing Consumer E-Commerce brand might advertise on Meta, Partner Marketing (Affiliate & influencer marketing), Connected TV, Direct Mail, Google, and TikTok.

Marketing Mix Modeling

(MMM) refers to analytical solutions that help marketers to understand and simulate the effect of advertising (volume decomposition) and to optimize tactics and the delivery medium. More recently, it has been used to simulate and analyze the trade-offs between trade and consumer spending. We recommend looking at Recast as a good option.

Marketing Stack / Tech Stack

A marketing technology stack is a grouping of technologies marketers leverage to conduct and improve their marketing activities. Often, marketing technologies (aka "MarTech") focus on making complex processes easier, measuring the impact of marketing activities, and driving more efficient spending. For example, you might use Adobe for analytics tracking, FiveTran for Data Connectivity, Amazon AWS for your database, AppsFlyer for your Mobile Measurement Partner, or MMP.

Mix Optimization

What is Media Mix Optimization? Media mix optimization is an analytical process during which marketers evaluate the performance of various campaigns to determine which positively impact their core audience and which do not. For example, you could optimize your media mix between Google Meta and TikTok and choose to increase and decrease the percentage from one month or quarter to the next.


The process of effectively pricing and earning revenue from various aspects and stages of your product or service. This is part of some of the core foundations of growth, including Acquisition, Retention, and Monetization.

Net Promoter Score

(NPS) Measures Customer Satisfaction It is based on the book The Ultimate Question and measures customer satisfaction on a scale of 1-10 or 1-100, depending on the scale. Service providers from eBay to Southwest to McKinsey to marketing agencies will ask their clients and customers: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

Net Revenue Retention

Revenue remaining after all discounts, credits, and allowances applied.


The process of getting active affiliate partners to do more at a regular cadence or based on particular metrics or goals.


Google’s Performance Max Ad Unit. Performance Max is a new goal-based campaign type that allows performance advertisers to access all of their Google Ads inventory from a single campaign. This ad unit is much more automated than other options within Google. Google automates the creation of ads based on the assets a brand provides. Google serves the best-performing combination of creative assets to maximize campaign performance.


In the realm of Partner Marketing. A partner is a site, app, or other media that agrees to promote your brand on a cost-per-action basis. They often choose to be compensated on a cost-per-outcome basis rather than a cost-per-click basis.

Personally Identifiable Information

(PII) includes information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual's identity directly or indirectly through linkages with other information.

Privacy Policy

A privacy policy is a statement or legal document (in privacy law) that discloses some or all of the ways a party gathers, uses, discloses, and manages a customer or client's data.

Programmatic Ads

Programmatic advertising uses automated technology for media buying (the process of buying advertising space) instead of traditional (often manual) digital advertising methods. Examples include Google, Meta, Trade Desk, and Moloco.


Not a book publisher but an online partner similar to an affiliate. A publisher is similar to an affiliate. Commission Junction widely popularized the term in the mid-2000s and is another way to name an affiliate. Publishers are often called this in response to the explosion of media and content sites that took shape during this time and continue to grow today.

Qualified Lead

A lead form submission deemed qualified to take the next step in the sales or purchase process. A qualified lead is a prospect generated by the marketing team, evaluated by the sales team, and fits the profile of an ideal customer intending to buy. The proper qualification of leads is essential to developing a healthy sales pipeline. This often comes up in lead generation marketing or B2B SaaS marketing when evaluating leads and whether they are ready to mass sales. Additional related terms include MQL and SQL.

Qualitative Growth Model

A description of how your product will grow. It is your thesis on how to grow your product and business efficiently.

Quantitative Growth Model

This is your data-driven Excel/Google sheet model outlining the inputs and outputs of your business over time.


Return on Ad Spend is a similar metric to MER and is calculated by dividing the revenue attributed to your ad campaign by the cost of that campaign. For example, if you spend $100,000 on ads, and your revenue is $350,000, you calculate ROAS by dividing $350,000 by $100,000. This gives you a ratio of 3.5:1 or 350%.

ROI (Return on Investment)

This is a similar view as ROAS and MER but includes overall investment and might include working capital, agency costs, and in-house staffing costs to calculate a more holistic view of the return on your marketing investment, not just media spend (working capital).


Re-engagement serves ads to users who intend to convert via a previous engagement (e.g., by clicking on an ad). They appear across the web and in-app, keeping brands in front of bounced visitors to bring them back (and ultimately convert).


In the marketing context, reach refers to the total number of unique individuals or households exposed to a particular marketing message or campaign within a specific period. It is a metric used to measure the potential audience or market size that a marketing initiative can reach.

Reach can be further categorized into two types:

1. Total Reach: This represents the overall number of individuals or households exposed to a marketing message. It includes the target audience and any additional individuals who may have encountered the message but are not part of the intended target.

2. Targeted Reach refers to the specific number of individuals or households within a defined target audience exposed to the marketing message. It focuses on reaching the desired group of consumers most likely to be interested in the product or service being promoted.

Reach is typically measured using various metrics, including the number of unique visitors to a website, the number of views on a social media post, or the number of people who saw a television advertisement. It helps marketers assess their campaigns' potential impact and effectiveness by understanding the size of the audience they are reaching. Additionally, reach is often considered alongside other metrics, such as frequency (how often the audience is exposed to the message), to evaluate a marketing campaign's overall effectiveness and efficiency.

Real-time Bidding

Real-time bidding ( RTB ) is a subcategory of programmatic media buying. It refers to buying and selling ads in real-time on a per-impression basis in an instant auction. This is usually facilitated by a supply-side platform (SSP) or an ad exchange.


The process of convincing affiliate partners to join your affiliate program.