Blog / What are impressions? The importance of impressions in the digital age

What are impressions? The importance of impressions in the digital age

Titelbild Blogbeitrag Impressionen
Maurice – November 27, 2023 – 10 min read

Have you ever heard of an impression? What exactly does this term mean?

Imagine that every time you’re online, every piece of content you see leaves a digital footprint – that’s the essence of an impression. In today’s information age, where user attention is the most valuable commodity, impressions are the benchmark for visibility and reach.

Let’s delve deeper into the world of impressions and discover why they are so fundamental in the digital marketing landscape.

What are impressions?

Impressions are an important key figure in the world of marketing and online communication. They measure how often a piece of content – be it an advertisement, a social media post or a website – is displayed to a user and can be descripted as “views”. It is important to understand that impressions are not synonymous with clicks or interactions.

Definition Impressions

They only provide information about how often the content was visible, regardless of whether it was actually noticed or even clicked on by the user.

Examples of impressions

  • Online advertising: An advertisement on a website is displayed to every visitor to the site. Each ad counts as one impression.
  • Social media: A post on a platform like Facebook or Instagram generates impressions every time it appears in a user’s feed.
  • Email marketing: Sending a newsletter counts as an impression as soon as it lands in the recipient’s inbox.

Impressions are a useful tool for measuring the visibility and reach of online content. They are crucial for understanding and optimizing marketing strategies, even if they alone do not tell the whole story. It is important to look at them in the context of other metrics such as clicks, interactions and conversions to get a complete picture of a content’s performance.

Why are impressions important?

Impressions play a crucial role in online marketing, as they form the basis for understanding the visibility and reach of content. However, they are only part of the overall picture. To fully understand the effectiveness of online measures, impressions must be considered in the context of other metrics.

The impressions are directly related to kicks and the click-through rate. So let’s take a closer look.


Clicks occur when a user actively clicks on a link or an advertisement. They are an indicator that the content has been actively perceived and has aroused enough interest to trigger an action by the user.

Impressions therefore indicate the number of times a piece of content is displayed, while clicks show how often it is acted upon. The relationship between these two metrics provides insights into the attractiveness and relevance of the content for the target audience. The click-through rate measures this ratio.

Click-through rate (CTR)

The CTR therefore measures the ratio of clicks to impressions. It is calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions and expressing the result as a percentage. The CTR is an important indicator of how effective a piece of content or an ad is in arousing users’ interest and persuading them to take an action.

Example: Click-through rate

Let’s assume an ad has generated 1,000 impressions and 10 clicks. The CTR would then be:

CTR = (10 clicks1,000 impressions) × 100 = 1% CTR = (1,000 impressions10 clicks) × 100 = 1%

A high CTR indicates that the content viewed is relevant and appealing to the target audience. A low CTR can indicate that the content or ad seen by the user is not effective enough to arouse the interest of the target group and persuade them to click.

Impressions are therefore crucial for assessing the visibility and potential reach of online content, which in turn is fundamental for understanding and optimizing marketing and communication strategies. But the key figure also has its limits. Start of form

Limits of impressions

Impressions are an important tool in digital marketing to measure the visibility of content, but they have certain limitations that limit their informative value:

  • No guarantee of actual perception: Impressions do not guarantee that the content will actually be seen, noticed or leave any impression on the user, which is particularly relevant in information overloaded online environments.
  • Lack of informative value about user intention: Impressions offer no information about the user’s intentions or behavior after viewing the content.
  • Misleading due to high numbers: A large number of impressions can be misleading as it does not necessarily correlate with high user engagement or content effectiveness.

In summary, while impressions are a useful measure of the number of potential views of a piece of content, they need to be considered in the context of other metrics to get an accurate picture of the effectiveness of an online marketing strategy.

Types of impressions

Impressions, a key concept in digital marketing, vary in type and meaning depending on the context. Each type offers specific insights and is important for different aspects of online marketing and digital presence.

Let’s take a closer look at the impression types:

  • Page impressions: These refer to the number of views of a single page of a website. Each visit to a page is counted as a page impression, regardless of whether the same person visits the page several times.
  • Ad impressions: Ad impressions measure how often an ad is displayed on a website or within an app. They are crucial for advertisers to evaluate the reach of their campaigns.
  • Impressions in the Search Console: This is the number of times a link to a website appears in the search results of a search engine such as Google. This metric is particularly important for search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Impressions in social media: In social networks, impressions refer to how often a post or ad appears in a user’s feed or on a user’s page. In social media marketing, this metric helps to understand how widely the content is distributed in social networks.
  • SEO – SERP impressions: These refer specifically to the frequency with which a website or specific content is displayed on the search engine results pages (SERPs) of a search engine, hence also called SERP impressions. They are an indicator of the visibility of a website in search engines and are essential for SEO strategies.

How are impressions counted?

Impression counting varies slightly depending on the platform and context, but the basic principle remains the same: an impression is counted every time a piece of content is displayed on a user’s screen.

Here are some key points to help you understand:

  • Websites and ads: Each time a web page or ad is loaded on a user’s screen, this is counted as an impression . This applies to banner ads, search engine ads and similar formats.
  • Social media: In social networks such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, an impression is counted as soon as a post or ad appears in a user’s feed, regardless of whether the user actually sees the post or clicks on it.
  • Search engine advertising: With search engine advertising, such as Google Ads in the Google Search Console, an impression is counted when the ad is displayed in the search results.
  • Tracking technologies: Many platforms use special tracking technologies to record impressions. These may include server logs, pixel tracking, or other methods that recognize when content is loaded and displayed.
  • Viewing time and visibility: Some advanced tracking systems also take into account how long a piece of content was visible and whether a certain percentage of the content was visible on the user’s screen.

It is important to note that the methods used to count impressions can vary depending on the platform and the technologies used. However, they share the common goal of providing a measure of the visibility and potential reach of content on the Internet.

Impressions and costs

The link between impressions and the associated costs is a central aspect in the world of digital marketing, as it forms the basis for two billing models. These models determine how advertisers pay for the distribution of their ads on online platforms.

Billing models based on impressions:

  • CPI (cost per impression): With this model, advertisers pay based on the number of impressions, i.e. how often an ad is displayed. It is a direct measure of how many times an ad has potentially been seen and is particularly useful for campaigns targeting brand awareness and visibility.
  • CPM (Cost per Mille, also known as Cost per Thousand Impressions): CPM is another impression-based model in which advertisers pay for every thousand impressions of their ad. This model is often used in online advertising and is ideal for advertising campaigns that aim for a high reach.

CPI and CPM are particularly suitable for strategies aimed at visibility and brand awareness, as they link costs directly to the number of impressions. The choice of the right model ultimately depends on the specific objectives of the advertising campaign and the desired result.

However, visual contact is not enough for ads to be really successful. The real aim of advertisements is to get as many users as possible to click on the ad and visit the associated website. This means that the importance of impressions is usually of secondary importance for overall success.

Conclusion: Impressions are an important term in online marketing

Impressions are a fundamental concept in digital marketing that measures the visibility and potential reach of online content. They provide valuable insights into various aspects of a marketing strategy, from overall brand presence to the effectiveness of specific advertising campaigns. Despite their importance, impressions also have limitations, especially in terms of actual user perception and interaction. To ensure a comprehensive evaluation of marketing effectiveness, impressions should be considered in combination with other metrics such as clicks, interactions and conversions. Impressions also play an important role in various billing models such as CPI or CPC, which makes them an integral part of budget planning and strategy development in online marketing.

Ultimately, a deep understanding of impressions and their application is essential to achieving true growth for your business.


What is an impression?

An impression in the context of digital marketing is the number of times a particular piece of content – be it an advertisement, a social media post or a website – is displayed on a user’s screen. It is a measure of the visibility and potential reach of the content.

What do impressions say?

Impressions provide information about the frequency with which content appears on the screens of the target group. They are an indicator of the reach and presence of content in the digital space. However, they do not measure the quality of user interaction or whether the content was actually actively perceived.

What are the benefits of impressions?

Impressions are useful to understand how widespread a piece of content is and how often it can potentially be seen. They help to assess the overall visibility of a marketing campaign and are fundamental for analyzing brand presence and the effectiveness of advertising strategies.

What is a good impression?

A “good” impression is one that is made in a relevant context and in front of a targeted audience. Ideally, it should lead to a higher level of user interaction, such as clicks, likes or comments. A good impression is not only frequent, but also effective in terms of achieving the specific goals of a marketing campaign.


8+ years of Growth Marketing
Published November 27, 2023


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