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Impressions: A fundamental stat.

Monday, November 1 2010 10:11 AM
By Brandon White

We deal with a lot of businesses in Wichita and nationally who are confused by all the stats advertising reps, SEO companies and sales people throw at them. That's actually the MO of a lot of people in sales, to confuse... or at least to find the one number that will be bigger than the other guy's number.

We aren't going to explain these stats, or hits, page views, uniques, reach, circulation etc. They're complicated, and if you're someone buying advertising, making comparisons is usually not as black and white as the numbers might seem.

One tip though...  "Impressions" is one of the more abused stats out there. It is the basis of many online and mobile advertising programs. It's also really simple.

An impression as it relates to internet advertising essentially means an ad was loaded on a page. A lot of online advertising is sold at a cost per impression. So the more times you're ad is seen the more it costs.

Fair enough, if you're buying banner or text ads on a site or app, Impressions are good. More impressions mean more people had the opportunity to see your ad / brand / message. Note the word "opportunity" though. An impression merely means the ad was displayed. It doesn't mean it was clicked, it doesn't mean the user even saw it. Pretty similar meaning as other types of media. The  difference is, with the web, you can find out if you're advertising is working.

Some advertisers buy banners strictly for branding. They trust their target audience is there, and really only care if their brand is seen, not if people click their ads. But most businesses expect more than that. i.e. the goal is clicks.

If you're buying ads based on the number of impressions, it's really important to use your web site statistics software to see how many people clicked the ad (don't blindly trust the report the ad rep gives you). Beyond that, did the people who clicked the ad take action after they got to your site? Did they stay on the site long enough to read your message (on an appropriate amount of time for the page you linked the ad to)? Did they look at other pages on your site (if that's a goal of your ad)? Did they fill out a contact form or buy a product? If you don't have that info, get it from your web developer. If they don't know what you're talking about, get a new developer. If you're not tracking results, today's a good day to start. It'll help you focus your ads, save money, and feel good about your advertising’s effectiveness.

So, it's not just about the quantity of impressions, but the results from those impressions and the quality of the visitor. The web gives you the power to know if your advertising is working. One more reason we love it.

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