Homebuilders love talking about impressions! Every Monday they count how many visitors came to their model home, clicked on their PPC ad or liked them on Facebook. That’s great! Here at Power Marketing we encourage homebuilders to track to their analytics, even doing it for them if need be, but…well, we hate to burst your bubble. Impressions are good to gauge, but really aren’t everything they’re cracked up to be! In this day of Internet marketing, many builders hear the word impressions bantered about by peddlers of many types of online marketing. Please allow me a few moments to address this subject.

So what exactly does the local newspaper sales person (or others who sell impressions) mean when they suggest your ad will get 10,000 impressions a day?

Wikipedia: An impression (in the context of online advertising) is when an ad is fetched from its source, and is countable. Clicking or not is not taken into account. Each time an ad is fetched it is counted as one impression.

Now, I understand their metric intentions (CPI, cost per impression), but I take issue with the value often attributed.

Let’s talk for a moment about your drive/walk to work this morning. How many advertising ‘impressions’ did you encounter? Signs… billboards… tee shirts… banners… radio commercials… menus… etc. Now these are ‘impressions’ you likely see most every day. How many actually register in your conscious mind? How many actually motivate you to buy something? If you do stop somewhere, it is likely because you drive by it daily not because of the sign.

Impressions rely on the value of repetition. And no marketer will ever discount the value of repetition for forming and reinforcing brands. That said, over-valuing impressions can lead advertisers to make marketing investment decisions based on misleading information. The real metric online that has value is clicks. Your CPC (cost per click) is the real issue. 100,000 impressions with zero clicks has little to no value. 100 impressions with 5 clicks is far better.

So consider this: The next time someone attempts to sell you advertising impressions, ask them how confident they are that your product will attract clicks. Your ad design and call-to-action is critical, so be sure and review both with the advertiser and attempt to design an ad that will attract clicks. If your ad has experienced, let’s say, 5,000 impressions; you should expect some clicks. This is known as your CTR (click through rate). If your ad runs for a period of time and doesn’t receive at least a 0.1% CTR, I suggest that you either pull the ad, redesign the ad or reconsider the call-to-action. Don’t let it continue burning up marketing dollars with the naïve notion that over time it will work. It won’t! It is the digital equivalent of “I’m loosing money on every home sale, but I’ll make it up on volume.”

Impressions are the obvious prerequisite towards a click on your online ad, but should never be used as a metric to justify the value of the marketing effort. Stop buying impressions. Demand that you can cancel an ad if there is no evidence of clicks through to your website. Your website should always include coding for Google analytics so you can accurately measure an ads performance based on clicks, not impressions.

Our digital team at Power Marketing can help you understand your digital metrics as well as help you design and create digital ads that will attract clicks and grow your business.

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One more important comment to keep in mind! Remember how I mentioned repetition is an important component of reinforcing your branding? I stand by that statement, but I can’t stress how important it is to know exactly what your brand is! If the first thing you think of when considering your brand is the fancy color scheme and the cool looking logo, well, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that’s not it.

If you’re interested in learning what really constitutes a brand, download this Free White Paper: “What Makes Up Your Brand? 5 Quick Tips”. I have a feeling you’re going to be totally surprised by Number One on the list.