SEO Agency

Glossary keyword - Impression


An impression occurs when a visitor sees an advertisement on a screen. It does not require any action, such as clicking or liking. It is merely based on viewing the ad or potentially seeing it. Usually, impressions act like a metric to evaluate the performance of marketing campaigns. The preferred way is cost-per-thousand (CPM) impressions. 

There are some benefits and flaws of this type of measurement. When companies want to improve brand awareness, impressions act as a helpful evaluation method. The reason is their sole aim to share information about the company to as many people as possible. With traditional marketing, such as billboards, an exact estimation of people who saw the ad is impossible to count. With digital marketing, it is relatively easy to count the number of people who entered the website, and the ad appeared on the page. 

The downside of the impression is that there is no guarantee that a visitor paid attention to it. This flaw divides impressions into two categories. 

Served vs. Viewable Impression

Served impressions count the people who had access to the ad. It estimates how many people entered the page when the advertisement existed there. If the ad appears randomly, marketers count how many times it appeared. However, the downside of impressions is stronger here.

Sometimes users use ad-blocking software. In other cases, some screens are too small for the ad to appear correctly. It is also possible that visitors scroll down and ignore the ad. Plus, broken plug-ins act as a barrier for ad display. All these problems restrain users from viewing the ad, but the company still pays for that ad. In other words, they pay because the advertiser served the content, regardless of whether people saw it or not. However, viewable impressions exclude all the problems mentioned before. This type of impression seeks to solve the issues and eliminate the payment for cases when visitors do not see the ad. Hence, it saves money for the company and gives more accurate data. 

The term impression, which is used in the context of online advertising, refers to when an ad is taken from its source and can be counted. But when the ad is clicked on, this is not taken into account. This means that when an ad is fetched, this is considered to be one impression. 

To lower the chances of click fraud, activities that seem robotic are excluded and filtered out. For accounting purposes, a more technical definition is given by the IAB, which is a watchdog and standards group. According to them, an Impression is a measurement of responses coming from a web server to a page request. This comes from the user browser and is filtered from any error codes and robotic activities. All of these actions are recorded at a point which is close as it can be to be seen by the user of the page. 

Purpose of Impression

The purpose of Impression is to pay and account for most of the Web advertising. The cost of the service is quoted in CPIs (cost per Impression) or CPMs (cost per thousand impressions). Contrast CPC, on the other hand, is the cost per click and is not Impression based.


A new move is pushing developers to abandon the current standard of served impressions. The new standard is being called viewable impressions. The Association of National Advertisers, American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4 A’s), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) are joining together to better define display media’s value. 

  • Served Impressions are the standards of today. This standard is recorded by ad servers to see if the advertisement is fully loaded and visible to the viewer. 

  • Viewable impressions, on the other hand, are seen as ads that are at least 50 percent visible to the viewer for at least one second. 

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