Cheat-sheet: Industry Acronyms Every Creative Freelancer Should Know


Having trouble discerning your CMS from your GDPR? You’ve come to the right place!

It occurs to me as I write these posts that certain terminology has embedded itself into the way I talk and write. And I’m sure that some readers are scratching their heads, wondering what all the acronyms stand for—and potentially, even, why some of the language is important for them to know.

“Knowing is half the battle…”

G.I. Joe

This is one of my favourite sayings for a reason: I’ve never met a client who didn’t appreciate a service provider who knew their stuff. And to “know your stuff” in the creative world these days means knowing bits and pieces of marketing and sales, technology, media and a whole host of other interconnected threads that make up the digital fabric of our existence.

Here’s a list of acronyms that, once learned, can help you sound like you’ve been in the industry as long as I have:

  • B2B (business-to-business) vs. B2C (business-to-consumer): Whether a business is trying to sell to other businesses or to consumers. (Hint: Most popular brands that come to mind are likely B2C, though they also likely have a B2B offering that consumers don’t know about.)

  • CASL (Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation): A privacy legislation that’s meant to regulate and reduce spam and other electronic threats to user privacy and security; applies to almost all forms of Commercial Electronic Messaging (CEM), including email, text and IM, as well as the unlawful upload of software or programming on users’ devices.

  • CMP (consent management platform): Technology solution that allows marketers to manage consumer opt-ins to receiving CEM; especially important in light of privacy legislation like CASL and GDPR.

  • CMS (content management system): The back-end system that allows you to change the content, design and other elements of a digital platform, site or app. The most user-friendly versions often use WYSIWYGs (literally, “What You See Is What You Get”), which let you see the changes you’re making as you make them (vs. relying on complicated coding and trial and error).

  • CPM (cost per thousand): Roughly, the cost of advertising to a thousand digital users, though fraught with issues, including whether a user actually interacted with the ad/brand. Alternatives: vCPM (viewable cost per thousand), which is tied to how often an ad can actually be seen by users, or RPM (revenue per thousand impressions), which is tied to sales resulting from an ad placement.

  • CRM (customer relationship management): A platform that many marketers use to collect, manage and massage their customer data; also often used to pull target audience segments for digital marketing campaigns.

  • CTR (click-through rate): Measure of the number of click-throughs an ad receives from users. Considered outdated, as click-throughs don’t necessarily mean sales.

  • CX (customer experience): The experience a consumer has when interacting with a brand; end-to-end CX takes into account brand engagement in-store, online, on social media and in the world at large.

  • DTC (direct-to-consumer): Consumer brands that choose to bypass traditional retail sales channels, to sell their wares online, on social media platforms or in pop-up shops. Popular examples: Allbirds, Glossier and Warby Parker.

  • GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation): Launched in mid-2018; legislation that regulates the privacy, control and transfer of consumer data for citizens in the European Union, with widespread implication for all marketers who use CEM to engage with consumers worldwide. Learn more about GDPR here.

  • SEO (search engine optimization): Methodology used to increase the number of visitors to a site by obtaining a high-ranking placement in results pages on Google, Bing and other search engines.

  • SMB (small- to medium-sized business): A highly prized category of clients/customers for many brands

  • UI (user interface): The front-end experience that any user sees when they open up a digital platform, site or app.

  • UX (user experience): A catchphrase for the quality of the experience that a user has when interacting with a digital platform, site or app.

  • VR (virtual reality) vs. AR (augmented reality): VR works by completely covering and replacing what a user sees in their field of vision vs. AR, which adds to a user’s field of vision, and only alters what users see on their smartphones, tablets or other digital devices.

Which industry acronyms make you think “WTF”?

Let’s talk about it! Leave a comment below or email me ( to discuss.


Ruthy Z