THE BENT ACRONYM
Scrambled Letters from the Internet
By Erwin Ephron
Like the crusty part of muffins, acronyms are the tasty tops of words. At best they’re sharp as lemons; Nixon’s Committee to Reelect, or CREEP, comes immediately to mind. At worst they’re over-familiar comfort foods like Keep It Simple Stupid’s KISS.
We live in the age of acronyms. A speeded-up world compressed by the ease and ubiquity of messaging. As our in-boxes swell, the need to respond overwhelms the need to communicate creating a perfect breeding ground for the three letter reply. DYA?
I thought I had mastered the acronyms of media, CPM, GRP, CPP and ETC, until I started reading the Internet press and found myself confounded by letters I did not know, thrown-off with a casualness usually reserved for lint.
Instead of speeding comprehension these nameless acronyms had me making up words to fill-in the missing body. Like the infamous EBITDA or Earnings Before I Took Down the Auditor.
See how well you do in this little quiz I call “Ace the Acronym” or ATA for short. I’ll put the words in context to give you a sporting chance.
Ace The Acronym
The first is easy, CTR as in: “(Blank) reports that there seems to be no relationship between CTR and brand awareness for Internet advertising. This in spite of the fact that many advertisers are focused on CPC.” Any clue? How about multiple choice? CTR is which of the following (and don’t let the illustration mislead you):
You’re right. CTR is Click-Through-Rate. The number of consumers clicking as a percent of consumers exposed to an Internet ad offering a place to click. And a bonus answer. The same number divided into cost gives us CPC or Cost-Per-Click.
Next is RSS as used in “Recently, I set out to take the pulse of agencies and marketers on the RSS issue . . . and combined with reflections on my own experience in the RSS trenches, I’ve learned a number of things.” What is this RSS that the writer has learned about?
You’re right again. It’s number three. Really Simple Syndication, which no matter how they abbreviate it, doesn’t really sound simple. RSS is a form of internet distribution used mainly by news websites and blogs to feed content or summaries with links to the full content to interested users. Sort of a digital cross between King Features and the Munchkins.
Number three on the scorecard is practically extra-terrestrial, XMOS as in “XMOS revealed that that interactive advertising contributed significantly to brand impact.” What (or who) is the XMOS?
Yes, the most unlikely definition is correct. XMOS is short for Cross Media Optimization Studies. A significant body of research conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau. It is truly a bent acronym. The gaffe here is using X for the word Cross which violates the Geneva Accord on Acronymics (GAA).
The Walls Have Ears
Our fourth acronym is perhaps the most difficult. HTML as in “Please be careful where you put your HTML. The walls have ears and eyes and noses.”
It’s HyperText Markup Language, which certainly deserves to be truncated if not totally trunked.
HTML it is a protocol designed for the creation of web pages with text and other information for display in a web browser. HTML's grammar structure is the HTML DTD that was created using SGML. And I’m afraid that uses up all of our available letters.
Search as a Ball
The final acronym is SEM as in “Think of search as a ball. SEMs might be holding it now, but throw it to the agencies or pass it on to the techies, and it becomes something else.” Who (or what) are these SEMs holding the ball?
If you guessed Search Engine Marketers, you are right. These are the companies dedicated to improving and expanding the use of online search as a marketing tool.
And here in an almost Biblical Sense (BS) the wheel turns full circle which seems proper for a wheel. Search Engine Marketers set the price for acronyms. Are you a drug company that wants SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)? That will cost you big.
And leave it to a SEM (Acronym Media is the company) to search out the last word on Internet acronyms: TWAIN or Technology Without An Interesting Name.
That caps the well. An acronym that tells you almost nothing, but does it quickly.
- June 1, 2006 -