What is an Impression?

What is an Impression?
Corin Tomasello

An impression, which you may have heard referred to as a view or viewership, refers to the point when your advertisement is viewed once, or simply displayed on a web page that a person visits. An impression is the broadest possible metric for any piece of paid, earned, or owned media performance.

For example, when you read the Huffington Post, every article on that web page counts your viewing as one impression. When you read Facebook, every ad in your News Feed counts as a media impression. The number of impressions of a specific ad is determined by the number of times that web page is loaded. It’s important to note that an impression is not an end all be all; instead, an impression is an estimate of the number of people your advertisement is reaching.

What are Impressions?

Marketing impressions can have a bit of a bad rap, and that stems from many advertising and PR reporting efforts beginning and ending with impressions. Beware of companies who only tell you “we’ll guarantee you 10 million impressions a month”, but won’t give you an idea of engagement or conversion.

Impressions are only the top of your funnel, and a successful marketing campaign must do much more after the initial impression to drive the conversions needed as part of your return on investment (ROI). Media impressions may be counted in different ways, but basically, reports will show the total number of total times the ad was served by a search engine.

The point of tracking the number of impressions that an advertisement has is to judge whether the marketing campaign is working. Generally, a good campaign will not only have a large number of impressions but also good conversion rates.

How Do Impressions Impact my Campaigns?

Web page and ad impressions are important to search engine marketing (SEM). The main reason impressions are counted for most advertisers & marketers is it’s a quick way to discover whether an ad or marketing campaigns is being looked at or not.Of course, it is possible to have a campaign with a large number of impressions, but poor results if the copy and imagery aren't compelling enough to cause action such as click-through or a purchase.

So impressions can help you determine if a campaign needs to be reevaluated and updated. When counting media impressions, there’s no one way to do it so your total results can be skewed (for example if one visitor is delivered the ad on multiple page views). But in the end, entire campaigns are not changed because of the impression numbers alone.

Marketing Impressions are the Top of the Sales Funnel

Impressions are only the very top of the sales conversion funnel; you have to engage buyers after the initial impression. Just because you drove past a billboard on your way to work, doesn’t mean you will remember it. The information needs to capture their attention and compel them to take an action.

Therefore, it’s important to take your metrics past the numbers of impressions. Key performance indicators (KPIs) to look at range from time on site or bounce rate to more complex metrics like social media channel engagement or organic search traffic.

Of course, after engagement, one of the best metrics is conversion rate. Who followed through and did what you wanted them to? This could be buying from a specific collection in your store, visiting a retail location, or even filling out a form to download something from you. Trust us, you’ll want to know what tangible thing the ad audience does next-after the impression-that advances your business.

Impressions Matter

Your media impressions do matter as they are usually the start of how your target audience will find you and purchase from you. But, you can’t stop at the impressions numbers when gauging marketing campaign success because impressions are meant to set the context for everything marketing and customer experience related that comes after.

Make sure you answer what’s next and not be satisfied with large media impression numbers that will not tell you the full story of how your campaign is truly performing.