What is an Impression?

In digital marketing, an "impression" signifies the total number of times a piece of content—be it an advertisement, a social media post, or a website page—has been displayed on someone's screen. 

It's important to note that impressions count displays, not interactions. In other words, an impression is recorded each time the content is loaded and potentially viewable, regardless of whether the user clicks on it or engages with it in any way.

Why are Impressions important? 

Impressions give you a basic idea of how many times your content is appearing on people's screens. Think of impressions as the starting point for understanding your online visibility. They don't tell you if people are engaging with your content, like clicking on it or sharing it, but they tell you how often it's being seen. 

A high number of impressions with fewer clicks or engagements could be a signal to review and possibly improve your content. In short, impressions provide a valuable initial measure that can help you dig deeper into the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts.

Reach vs. Impressions: What’s more important to measure? 

While both reach and impressions focus on visibility, they are not synonymous. Reach counts the total number of unique users who have seen your content at least once, essentially measuring the breadth of your audience. Impressions, on the other hand, count the total number of times your content is displayed, regardless of whether the same user has seen it multiple times.

Here's an example: If you present a billboard to 100 people and 20 of them see it twice, your reach would be 100, but your impressions would be 120. Understanding the difference between reach and impressions is essential for tailoring your digital marketing strategy. Here's how they differ and when each may be more important:


  • Importance: Useful for brand awareness campaigns where the aim is to expose your brand to a new audience.
  • When to use: Ideal for launching new products or when you want to measure how many individual people your campaign is reaching.


  • Importance: Helpful for analyzing frequency; i.e., how often your content is seen by your audience.
  • When to use: Useful for limited-time offers or reminders, where repeated visibility could prompt users to take action.

The choice between focusing on reach or impressions largely depends on your specific marketing goals. Reach is more about the breadth of your audience, while impressions focus on the frequency of your message.

Using Impressions in your marketing strategy 

Benchmarking performance

Impressions offer a baseline metric against which you can measure the impact of any adjustments in your digital marketing campaign. For example, if you change the graphics or the targeting criteria of an ad and notice an uptick in impressions, that's a good sign that the changes are effective.

Budgeting and bidding

Many online advertising platforms offer cost-per-mille (CPM) models, where you pay for every 1,000 impressions. Knowing the average impressions can help you set realistic budgets and make informed decisions on bidding strategies.

Audience Insights

High impressions can indicate that your content is relevant to the audience, based on factors like keyword relevance or effective targeting. Conversely, low impressions might signal the need to revisit your keyword or audience targeting strategy.

Content adjustment

You can use impressions in combination with other metrics like engagement rates and conversions to understand the effectiveness of your content. If a campaign has high impressions but low engagement, it might be time to revise the content or the call-to-action to better resonate with your audience.

A/B testing

Impressions serve as a valuable metric in A/B testing scenarios, where two versions of an ad or webpage are pitted against each other. They can provide an initial read on which version is more appealing to your target audience, before diving into deeper metrics like clicks and conversions.

Final words

Impressions serve as a vital initial metric in digital marketing, providing key insights into visibility, audience size, and the potential effectiveness of a campaign. Impressions, when analyzed alongside other key metrics such as engagement rates and conversions, provide a comprehensive view of your content's effectiveness.