What is an Impression?
Join our host, Toby Rosen, to find out what an impression really is. We will dissect how impressions are pivotal to online marketing, explore the significance of impressions in optimizing content, and understand how impressions can provide invaluable insights into the visibility, reach and branding impact of our content.
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What is an impression? Welcome to Legal Marketing 101. I'm Toby Rosen. Today we're diving into one of the most fundamental metrics in digital marketing Impressions. Impressions are simple and they apply to pretty much every facet of marketing today, but they are a really fundamental part of digital marketing specifically. Not only are impressions fundamental to what we do every day with our marketing online, but they were really pretty fundamental to the creation of the entire digital ad universe we participate in today. So let's start with the basics. What is an impression? Impressions are this core concept in the digital marketing world, and it's really all about eyeballs, or rather the number of times your content is displayed to someone online. When we talk about the number of eyeballs, colloquially, impressions are the actual technical data nerd term we should be using here. Each time your ad or your post or your content appears on a user's screen on their laptop, on their desktop, on their mobile phone, this counts as one impression and generally it is just that simple. But this number isn't always as straightforward as it seems. It doesn't guarantee that someone has engaged with your content or clicked a link, or even that they've read it or looked at it thoroughly. It's kind of like a billboard on a highway. People see it, but they're speeding by. So how do we quantify if they're actually paying attention to what we're telling them? Well, we're going to get to that, but first we need to talk about a few different platforms here and what an impression means on each one, because it's a little bit different. Not all impressions are created equal and we might be willing to pay more for eyeballs on one platform versus another, so it's important to understand. Let's break it down for some of the major players you're going to encounter. Number one is search engines, particularly Google. When we create a text ad on Google or we rank a page through SEO, each time our we'll call the ranked page an ad as well. Each time our quote unquote ad appears in the search results, this counts as an impression, and impressions in Google ads or from Google organic search can help you understand how often your quote unquote ad is showing up for relevant search queries, for organic searches. You can go and find that information from your SEO tracking software or you can check this in Google ads. It's really easy to find that information and see how many impressions you're getting. Number two is social media, and I'm lumping these together here, but things can be a little different for different types of content on these networks, but generally on social platforms, an impression is counted each time your content appears on a user's feed or timeline or on the page that they're browsing. Whether this is an image or a video or a post or some kind of version of this as an ad, it counts as an impression when someone is scrolling past it, whether they really look at it intently or not. So not only is this impression number really critical for helping us gauge the reach our posts are getting, but we need to be really aware of these conditions, of these views. Meta at all are getting way better at tracking and representing to us as advertisers whether or not users are really looking at our ads and with what intention and for how long, and all of those kinds of numbers. But the reality is we are all kind of at odds with each other when it comes to what data we wanna be able to see. As usual, I digress, but you see my point. Number three here is display advertising, and again this is applying across the board to things like Google's network, like YouTube's display ads maybe not the video ads and things like Facebook's display ads and so many other sources. So if you're running banner ads on websites and impression is counted each time your ad is loaded on a particular website or a particular webpage to be more specific and this doesn't mean someone is actually looking at the ad, it means they loaded the page really and you should look at the definitions for your platform because it can change, but generally it doesn't necessarily tell us if they looked at it. So, when it comes to this data, we can't really draw that many conclusions from this single data point alone, and we particularly wanna stay away from making any inferences about how engaged our audience might be. This does give us some sense of the total reach that our ads are getting in the market, but this is really only valuable to us when we combine it with some other substantive metrics. But impressions don't just stop at these three sources. I'm gonna stop and shift gears a little bit, but you're gonna see impressions or opens in your email system for when people look at emails, and you're gonna see it over and over again throughout your marketing journey. So while every platform and every vertical within every part of marketing has, you know, a slightly different variation on the definition of an impression, that getting eyeballs on that idea is almost always the fundamental concept of what we're talking about with impressions. But look, it's not just about numbers, it's about the impact. How do we quantify the impact of these impressions and of our ads? And nine times out of 10, I would say just focus on conversions, focus on the sales or the revenue and don't worry at all about what I'm about to talk about. If the sales go up and the budget fits your 10 or 15% limit for marketing, why worry about the details? Hire someone to do that for you and focus on the big picture of which strings to pull. Hell, hire me, I'll tell you which pieces to do. It doesn't matter. But what does matter is that big picture and the sales. But that said, I am now going to talk about a couple of impression related metrics that, at least for marketers, are really interesting, and hopefully no fellow marketing nerds were offended by my preface just now about these metrics like frequency and unique impressions and impression share. But I do mean what I just said. If you can make the revenue go up, all of this other stuff is just marginal gains. But if something's wrong or if you're a nerd like me, marginal gains is kind of still all the rage. So let's talk about these couple of different data points that are related to impressions and how they can help you clear up some potential issues. Number one is frequency, and impressions are really closely tied to frequency. Frequency refers to how often the same person sees your ad or content. So a high frequency can indicate some brand recognition, but it can also lead to ad fatigue, where people get tired of seeing your ads if you're not managing and limiting your frequency correctly. This is a balance that you have to strike between making your brand familiar but not annoying your audience. Number two is unique impressions, and some platforms do provide a lot of really good data on unique impressions, which means the number of distinct individuals who have seen your content versus the number of total eyeballs on, because if it's the same pair of eyeballs 100 times, a unique impression is gonna say just one. This metric can help you gauge the actual reach of your campaign among different users. So if your platform does differentiate, you wanna be looking at that unique number to see how many people you're actually reaching. But number three is impression chair and this metric, which is really really common in PPC or pay-per-click advertising. This tells you the percentage of impressions that your ad usually received compared to the total number of impressions available. It's kind of like market share. It's how much of the market are you dominating with your advertising? And a high impression chair. It tells us that our ads are capturing most of the available impressions for our target keywords, for most of the searches where we could be in an ad we're showing up. So that's what we want to target with impression chair. So, again, that's a really important metric, but we're gonna talk about that more in the future. Number four here is ad position or placement, and this is a huge, huge topic so we're gonna come back to it at another time. But I wanna talk about it a little bit because your ads position on the search engine results page or the placement on the page that it's appearing on if it's a display ad, this really, really matters. Ads in higher positions or in optimal placements, they get more impressions and they get more engagement. So you wanna make sure you track your ad position for particular keywords or for particular display ads and make sure you're combining this with all of your other data points when you're optimizing your strategy. Where you're showing up is going to directly affect the not only the number of impressions, but your engagement overall. So this is a really huge metric. And then we have ad extensions, which we're not gonna go too deep into, but I wanna mention this because in platforms like Google ads or in Bing ads, you can use these extensions to provide more information to potential searchers or to potential clients and it's gonna help you increase the visibility of your ads. Google, likes it, makes your ads bigger. It's better, so this leads to more meaningful impressions and higher click through rates. But it's a really easy area to forget about. I see firms not checking this data, not optimizing their extensions. So that's why I wanna mention it today Is because this is something that is collecting impressions and you can use that data to understand which extensions are working the best, which ones aren't working and, as I always suggest, ab tests some things and figure out which extensions are gonna give you the best chance of getting engagement. Well, finally, similar to ad extensions, I wanna talk a little bit about mobile versus desktop, because you need to keep in mind that impressions are gonna vary a little bit between mobile and desktop users, both how the impressions work, what type of engagement the user is gonna potentially do after making that impression. So, understanding your audience's preferences and optimizing your content for all of these devices. We've talked about mobile optimization a lot. This is really really critical Because, at the very core of this, if the content that the user is seeing is not something that's going to work for them, then that impression is pretty much worthless. So today's episode is, of course, about impressions, but, like I said, remember that impressions are just one piece of this big puzzle. Here they give us some really valuable insight into our content's visibility, into our reach and into the branding impact we're having. But the actions that follow these impressions, like clicks and conversions and all that other fun stuff, like sales, that's really going to be the driving force behind your firm's growth. But that's easier said than done and we have a lot more work to do. So that's it for Legal Marketing 101. Check out rosanadvertisingcom for more. Thanks, daylight Online.