Spicy Nugget: Ad impressions – Use & limitations
“If your digital marketing agency is leading with ad impressions as their number one metric for your campaign’s success, run. As fast as you can. What this statistic tells you is how many times your ad was on the screen of a user/potential buyer. It shows that your ad is going out and saturating, hopefully multiple times over, your target audience.
“What it does NOT tell you is whether that user even noticed the ad, did anything with it, or if that user is even the right person to be targeting. We don’t use this metrics to determine an account’s success, but rather to diagnose the source of potential problems.
“Our advertising nerds—ahem, I mean experts—will compare Impressions to other metrics but never as a standalone measure of success. If your agency is reporting Impressions to you as a “results” metric, then you might have an expensive problem to fix.”
-Adam A. Sene, CEO
What are impressions, and who cares?
Impressions are, to quote Facebook exactly: “the number of times your ads were on a screen.” Google defines the word in much the same way, counting one impression each time your ad is shown on a Google search results page or as a display ad in the Google network. Since neither of those definitions really tell you anything about what impressions actually are, let’s dig in.
Ad impressions are a commonly monitored metric and usually make the “top 5 fave metrics” list for marketing pros. This is because they are the number one way to measure how many times your ads were exposed to your target audience, so obviously they matter to a certain extent.
How Are THEY Counted?
One impression is counted for each instance an ad appears on screen for the first time. The example Facebook gives is that if an ad appears on screen for a user, and then the user scrolls down and back up to the same ad, that counts as only 1 impression. If an ad appears on screen for someone 2 different times in a day, however, that would count as 2 impressions.
On Google, an impression is counted each time your ad is shown on a search result page or on another site in the Google Display network.
What’s the Difference Between Impressions and Reach?
Reach is defined as the number of people who were exposed to your ad campaign at least one time. Reach might seem super similar to impressions (because it is), but the main difference between the former and the latter is that impressions can include multiple views of the same ad by the same user.
Reach is essentially a PEOPLE metric, whereas impressions are VIEWS.
Get to the Point… Why Do AD Impressions Matter?
Impressions are a great metric for a number of reasons, not the least of which is brand awareness and recall-ability for your potential buyers. If you’re running a brand awareness campaign, this IS your key metric.
Have you ever seen an ad on Facebook or elsewhere for a brand or product you liked, and then when someone else mentioned that brand or product to you, you said, “Oh yeah, I know them… I saw them online somewhere”? Boom. Impressions.
Impressions are an awareness metric. They are eyeballs on your brand. This, loosely speaking, can translate to new clients, leads and more sales. Without impressions, you’re literally living in a cave where nobody sees you or knows about the amazing services you offer.
Impressions tell you that your ads are being seen by your target audience, but just on their own, they definitely don’t determine the success of your campaign. You have to keep one eye on Impressions while keeping another eye on each of your other metrics like Spend, Click-Through-Rate (CTR), your Leads, Cost Per Click and Cost Per Lead. (That’s at least 5 more eyes—yikes!)
A Lesson From Nerds: Ignore Data if You Like Wasting Money
A little known secret about ad experts is we’re actually complete nerds. You might think splashy creatives and amazing taglines are what get the job done, but we’re here to tell ya—it’s the numbers and the data. Our super nerds analyze, refine and optimize campaigns based on the data we gain from metrics, so that campaigns perform beyond our clients’ expectations. The honest truth is that our Design Team just does a heck of a job making math look sexy.
For example, if we see a campaign getting thousands of Impressions per day for months and months, yet CTR and Leads are still in the toilet, chances are the audience isn’t refined enough and you need to tighten things up.
Do I Need an Agency to Run My Ads on Facebook and Google?
Business owners hire professionals to handle ad campaigns because agencies have more eyeballs than business owners. Plain and simple.
Can you run your own ad campaigns? Of course you can! We even created this guide to getting Facebook Ads approved because we believe in you! But you’d better be prepared to lose some money along the way as you learn the ropes. Ads without precise optimization, targeting and data analysis can be quite a money pit.
Want some help? We’re here, and we give out free advice all the time. Reach out!