Advocacy Glossary

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)

Advocacy Terms

Learn the Language of Advocacy with our Advocacy Glossary:

Looking for an advocacy glossary? Well you have come to the right place. Creating an advocacy campaign can be complicated. There are so many factors to consider, budget, goals and timelines. Often times, understanding the language of advocacy can become its own challenge. To help lighten the load, we've have put together an advocacy glossary of useful advocacy terms. Enjoy!


A/B Testing: This is a type of communications testing in which you divide up your targets, and give one group one treatment, and another group a different treatment.  Whichever group responds the best to their treatment is the treatment you want to use on your whole target list.  For example, let’s say you want to send a fundraising email. You have 500 people on your list. Send 100 people one version of the email, and another version to a different group of 100 people.  Check which generates the most money.  Then send that version to the rest of your list.

Advocacy canvass: Canvassing for advocacy can help achieve several different goals. By going door-to-door, your advocacy campaign can fundraise, get out the vote, or engage and inform citizens.

Banner ad: Banner ads are digital ads that are embedded into ad pages by a server. Banner ads are connected to another webpage and are used to attract people to click on the ad, and consequentially visiting the page, or to promote exposure through impressions.

Content Marketing: Content marketing is the process of making the words you write work for you. Content marketing drives traffic and engagement to your portals through the content you create by focusing on keywords.

Control group experiment: Control group tests a type of communication testing in which you set a small portion of your universe aside and compare the difference between who got contacted and who did not. Literally any campaign can do this, whether you want to test your 40-person email’s efficacy or a massive statewide persuasion program.

CPA campaign: A CPA campaign adds people to your list by having them take an action on your behalf. This means that people added to your list in this way are more likely to play an active role in your campaign than those who simply clicked on an online ad. Because these supporters are more valuable, the cost for a CPA campaign can often be higher than other forms of list building. However, the fact that these people have proactively opted into your campaign means the cost is often worth the return on investment.

Geo Fencing: Geo-fencing means that an advertiser creates a virtual fence around an address and serves ads within that area. The retail market has frequently used geo-fencing to get people to purchase items or frequent a place of business. Within that context, it makes sense to create a geo-fence around your place of business and serve ads to people within this area offering a coupon or promoting a special sale. This technology also translates to the advocacy arena, allowing for incredibly specific targeting and so that you can run ads around an event or location that makes sense for your campaign.

Grass-tops: Grass-tops advocacy is when you focus your efforts on opinion leaders and folks who have connections to elected officials.

Grassroots: Grassroots advocacy is when you reach out to constituents in given legislative districts or congressional districts and have them connect with their legislator or member of congress around an issue they care about.

In banner video: An in banner video is much like a basic banner ad, but with the added element of showing a video. These ads can be more visually engaging and grab a viewer’s attention.

Lobby visit: These are days when members of your advocacy group serve as lobbyists and try to push your advocacy goal onto legislators.

Lobbyist: Lobbyists can be a good way to influence lawmakers. Although expensive, finding a lobbyist with close ties to a crucial legislator can be a difference-maker in your advocacy campaign.

Message triangle: A message triangle is a template used to develop a clear message during an interview. The triangle includes a clear message or goal that you are going to highlight. It will also have key message points that will be used as evidence to support your goal. Finally, the triangle calls for transitions to avoid being caught off guard by a tricky question.

Message Box: A message box is a way for you to distinguish your position from the alternate by highlighting the difference between the two viewpoints.

Native Advertising: Native ads have become the latest trend in the world of digital advertising. They are a type of advertising that fits into the content of the media where the ads are being placed. An example of this is when you are reading an article about the tech industry – let’s say on your favorite newspaper’s website – and you see another article below about IBM’s innovations in the tech world. That article about IBM is actually sponsored by IBM, making it a native advertisement.

Patch through calls: When a phone call patches a constituent through to their legislator or a relevant individual so that they can voice their opinion on a topic and take part in an advocacy effort.

Pre-roll: Pre-roll ads are usually video ads that are played before a user can view the video they are trying to watch. These ads are usually 15-30 seconds long. They are currently one of the most popular forms of video advertisement.

Splash page: A splash page or a sign-up field to your Facebook page is a simple and free way to give your followers the option to sign up for your email list when they visit your page. These people are already taking the initiative to get information about you, so it should be no surprise that they are also more than likely to sign up if prompted.

How did we do? Do you have other terms for our advocacy glossary we missed? Share them here.