In marketing, an impression is a performance indicator that allows marketers to evaluate the number of views or engagements of a content (often a publication or an ad) on a web page.

If most companies position themselves on the web and use different strategies to become better known, they don’t always master the indicators that allow them to measure the reach of their actions

However, there are some very important performance indicators to show if a referencing strategy is effective or not. Impression is one of the metrics that have been used in marketing for years

Indeed, despite the increasing evolution that the field has undergone, impressions remain a very important metric not only to interpret traditional marketing actions, but also to track the performance of online advertisements.

  • What does the term “impression” mean in digital marketing?
  • Why are impressions essential to analyze the effectiveness of an online ad campaign?
  • How do you calculate impressions?

Together, let’s find out the answer to these questions.

Chapter 1 : Impressions – Definition, functioning and importance in SEO

1.1. what is an impression

The term “Impression” is often used in digital marketing and refers to the rate at which an ad appears on a search page

Impressions represent ads that appear in a search engine’s SERP (Search Engine Research Page) or on a social media feed.

They are not based on concrete actions such as clicks and conversions, but rather they are used to evaluate the effectiveness of a marketing action and increase brand awareness and image

An impression represents an advantage for a web page or an advertisement to be seen, read and above all to stimulate the user’s desire. Taking impressions into account to evaluate the performance of a campaign means analyzing aspects such as

  • The frequency of appearance of a PPC (Pay Per Click) ad in the relevant search results;
  • The number of times an ad appears on social network news feeds;
  • Users’ access to visual or graphic content via Google Image Search or Pinterest.

1.2. how do impressions work?

The rule for measuring impressions in digital marketing is that an impression is the view of a web page or content loaded on the web (ad)

Impression analysis is the most cost-effective and practical way to evaluate the performance of an SEO strategy. This data is available to measure and understand whether an ad is being seen or not.


However, the interpretation of impressions is a controversial topic. For some online advertising experts, there is no exact way to calculate impressions. In fact, they argue that an impression count can be skewed when a single person sees an ad multiple times on various search pages.

Similarly, there are several other ways to skew the impression count for an online ad. That’s why ad marketers view impression numbers with a bit of reluctance

Impression tracking can be a very important metric to help the advertiser better evaluate the strategy they are developing by looking at the visibility of the ads and the number of views. Impression data can help the advertiser when developing strategy for new advertising campaigns or when evaluating the results of a search engine optimization audit.

Suivi des impressions

Source: mavreeck

If you use impression data from a previous campaign well to strategize new SEM or PPC campaigns, as well as for a successful SEO strategy, you should see an increase in impressions at the end of the campaign

Impressions can also give a good insight into the click-through rate of an ad campaign.

There are generally two types of impressions which are:

  • Broadcast impressions;
  • Visible impressions.

1.2.1. Broadcast impressions

To follow the impressions, the marketers base themselves on the diffused content. Indeed, when the content of a website or an ad appears somewhere on the Net, this activity is counted as an impression.

It is therefore easier to track the impressions delivered, because they depend on the data held by the server. However, it is more complicated to specify the reach of the ad content without further analysis of the data.

1.2.2. Visible impressions

To measure viewable impressions, data collected from a user’s device is usually used. Collecting and processing this data allows advertisers to eliminate all cases in which the web page content was not seen.

The analysis of visible impressions allows to discover the different behaviors or practices of users that tend to limit the viewing of ads. These are practices such as:

  • The installation of ad blocking software;
  • Using a screen resolution that is too small to prevent the ad from appearing on the screen;
  • Scrolling quickly through the ad even before it loads;
  • Using broken plugins to restrict the display of ad content;
  • Minimizing browser windows;
  • Ads loaded in background tabs, but never viewed.
  • And so on.
impressions visibles

Source: Ad-exchange

So, tracking visible impressions has two advantages. First, you have the ability to collect more accurate and objective impression data

Secondly, the data and information collected gives you insight into user behavior. This data will allow you to improve your strategy and ensure a higher impression rate for your next advertising campaign.

1.3) Why are impressions important in SEO?

Impressions are very important metrics for evaluating the performance of an SEO or online advertising campaign

They have several advantages and tracking them is essential for a company that wants to improve its actions. In this chapter you will learn about the different advantages of impressions.

1.3.1. Impressions allow you to evaluate the SEO strategy on a website

In the process of search engine optimization, impressions provide very reliable information to improve the positioning of a website. Indeed, you can get a clearer idea of the most visited web pages of your website as well as the pages not visited from the impressions.

Nevertheless, the figures of impressions alone are not enough to pronounce on the quality of a web page. A viewed page does not mean that it contains valuable content that meets the needs of Internet users. It is also necessary to take into account the bounce rate and the length of stay in order to decide on the quality of a web page.

1.3.2. Impressions are the standard in advertising marketing

Although not very reliable as most advertisers point out, impressions are still the most accessible performance indicator in ad marketing. Brands use them to evaluate the impact of their various advertising activities.

They are mostly used to calculate and evaluate the reach of marketing actions and also public relations like ad equivalence.

1.3.3. Impressions are used in many areas and are easy to understand

Specialists in industries such as marketing, advertising, and public relations commonly use impressions to communicate the value and impact of their various actions

Moreover, the concept of print is a fairly simple and easy to understand field. The study of print does not require any formal marketing training. Today, all companies and brands understand and approve influence assessments on a newspaper, social media platforms, websites, magazines, etc. based on impression data.

1.3.4. Impressions are a two-way communication channel and drive brand awareness

Impressions allow you to see and know how many people have seen the content of a web page. Far from this being the only benefit, impression data is also used to analyze which content is most relevant and liked by the audience.

This is an opportunity for marketers to create a communication channel between the brand and consumers. Impressions also contribute to the various successes of a brand

When you boost your impressions, you indirectly increase your community’s engagement with your brand. This is most noticeable on social media.

Chapter 2: How to measure impressions

It is obvious that Google Display Network campaigns are extremely important elements of your marketing campaign. But, it is also very important to know the budget you can allocate to its campaigns.

Most marketers or online marketers want to learn how to analyze impression rates or even estimate impression rates and clicks based on their budget

Mastering this data allows you to make strategic decisions about your goals and what you can spend.

Find out in this chapter how to find the impression rate on your different ads and the different ways to estimate this data.

2.1. Estimating impressions based on spend on the Google Display Network

The pay per impression option is the easiest way to estimate impressions by tracking your budget on the Google Display Network. There are generally three (3) pricing options which are:

  • Cost Per Click (CPC);
  • Cost per thousand impressions (CPM);
  • Cost Per Action (CPA).

If your main budget is allocated to branding, i.e. your goal is to reach many more people with the ad’s message, Google suggests using CPM bidding

This way you can ensure that many people see the ad without relying on the traffic rate it generates.

As for CPC bidding, Google suggests using this pricing option if the goal of the ad is traffic generation. Finally, CPA is the best option for generating online transactions.

2.1.1. How to calculate impressions based on spend with CPM?

By setting CPM as a pricing model, it is easier to calculate the number of impressions you can get with your budget.

To do so, you just need to follow the following steps:

  • Divide the total budget allocated to advertising by the cost per thousand impressions;
  • Keep in mind that the number obtained is the number of thousand impressions, i.e. the number of impressions out of 1000;
  • To get the actual number of impressions, you will multiply the previous number by 1000.

The final number you get after the calculation is the total number of impressions you can get from your budget. However, it is very rare that you get exact numbers after advertising with CPM. After all, it’s only an estimate and it’s an auction system with prices varying by several factors, including competition.

Formule pour calculer les impressions

Source: Digital Media Metrics

Let’s take the example of an advertiser who has a budget of $100 and who earns an average of $2.80 with the CPM. To get an estimate of the number of impressions, you can follow these steps:

  • Divide $100 by $2.80 ($100/$2.80) to get 35.71429 ;
  • Multiply 35.71429 by 1000 and you get 35714.27 ;
  • With a budget of $100, you can get about 35714 impressions on your ad.

2.1.2. How to calculate the impressions based on the expenses with the CPC?

You can use the previous calculation method to estimate the rate of impressions you expect to get with your spend by adopting the CPC pricing model. The only restriction is that you are paying per click and not per mile.

So to get the impression rate, you need to divide the ad budget by the cost per click in your calculations. The CPC pricing system also varies by several factors and may give results that do not meet your predictions

For an advertiser with $100, for example, the average CPC is assumed to be $0.75. We can then estimate the impression rate with the following calculation:

  • We divide $100 by $0.75 and we get 133.333
  • With a budget of $100, you will get about 133 impressions with a bidding system like CPC.

2.2. Measuring impressions from Google data

Google Ads and Google’s display network make automatic calculations and estimates about the likely results that can come from an ad

In fact, Google gives you estimates on performance indicators as you set the budget for your ad.

Clicks and impressions are not spared from these estimates. Google allows you to readjust your budget according to your objective and other parameters in order to perform the ad

In addition, the Google Display Network has a Display Planner that helps you calculate impressions.

Organic impressions

Source: postoplan-app-prod

Google’s scheduling tool is another feature that displays historical CPMs, impressions as well as audience impressions. To access this feature, you need to go to the “Available Network inventory”.

If you want to get ad group or targeting ideas, you can also click on the “Ad Group” and “Targeting Ideas” tabs in the planning tool. By looking at the statistics on the “Targeting Ideas” tab, you can see, for example, the rate of impressions that Google estimates to be available.

2.3. how to calculate impressions based on the final data?

To have accurate and reliable information on how to calculate impressions, your campaign must necessarily be in progress or even finished. It is only at this stage that Google will show you the final and detailed data. To find this information, you must go to your Google Analytics page.

Click on the “Behavior” tab, then “Event” and go to “Overview”. It’s also possible to look at other areas during your Display Network analytics to get more reliable impression data.

It’s important to address impression sharing data when talking about impressions. Impression share data allows you to compare the performance of your ads and your competitors

To get the impression share rate, Google divides the final number of impressions your ad generated by the total number of impressions it could have had.

To get this data, select “Columns” and open the “Edit Columns” tab under “Competitive Statistics”

In the window that appears, you will find checkboxes that represent impression rate data. When you finish checking the data, click “Apply” to display the print share data.

2.4. How to improve the print rate?

Given the importance of impressions in measuring the performance of an online advertising campaign as well as brand awareness, it is more crucial to constantly improve the impression rate. Here are some general tips you can apply to improve your impression rate.

  • Increase your campaign spend: The frequency of an advertising campaign is a factor that influences the impression rate of the ad. Since the frequency of delivery depends on the budget, if you want to increase your impression rate, you must also increase the budget;
  • Increase the bidding of your ad in order to put on your side chances to win bids on the competition;
  • Improve the quality of your campaign based on the first impressions you score on the Google Display Network;
  • Improve the quality of your display ads;
  • Choose the right managed locations: the managed locations on the display network allow you to select the sites on which you prefer to display your ad;
  • Offer better quality products: The quality of the products you present in your ad plays an important role in the effectiveness and perception of the ad among Internet users.


Despite the constant evolution that is observed in digital marketing, some things still make sense. One of these things is the evaluation of the quality of a strategy formulated with indicators such as the impression rate.

Now you have a better understanding of what the term “impression” means and all that it implies. I hope the information in this content will be useful for your next SEO strategies or for measuring the performance of any marketing strategy. Also the impression calculation can help you next time to improve your CTR.

If you liked this article, feel free to leave me a comment. Thanks and see you soon!

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