As a paid search professional the term impression has always interested me. More specifically, it was how differently search and display treated impressions. From a PPC point of view, an impression has never really meant much to me, if someone see’s my ad – great, but I really only care about those who click through because that means interaction and that’s what I’ve paid for.
CPM is something even more perplexing to me. I understand the premise of it, pay per 1,000 people that see your ad. It’s worked for TV and Press why shouldn’t it apply to digital too? This is probably the first question that needs scrutinising.
Up to now an impression was your ad being shown on any given part of the page; it didn’t matter whether anyone had seen it. If we use the dailymail.co.uk as an example it really shows how important the definition of an impression is. Looking at the page there are 2.5 ads being shown above the fold. Surprisingly there are 18 further ads being shown below the fold. Of these, 8 are shown about 8 scrolls below the end of the article! This means that over 40% of ads could never been seen, this could potentially be as high as 86%. The wastage is incredible. If we begin to even think about post impression conversion tracking we start to wonder how it is that sales can be attributed to an ad which have never been seen!
However, Google are leading the way again and have announced their Brand Activate Initiative. Google’s new measurement – an “active view”, is a viewed impression. This means someone has viewed at least 50% of an ad for at least one second. This means that the wastage which could have previously have been seen will be reduced and advertisers are actually paying for impressions that have been seen. This is hardly revolutionary but it is shocking that it’s taken this long to implement. Expect other publishers to follow suit but impressions might become harder to buy and subsequently CPMs may increase. On the plus side CTRs should increase as wastage disappears.
Now, we just need to work on post click conversion tracking for display.