Impressions: Is this a leading enough measure of your ad success?

Updated: Nov 7, 2019



In my business meetings, to review ad success, I wouldn't have impressions as a measure of digital marketing prowess; just a light talking point. It is too easy and very cosmetic a measure! Even though impressions are not the best leading metric, it shows you your content footprint.


Impressions, simply put, are the number of times users have seen your content in their feed. They may or may not take an action after seeing it - it's like having a weight loss goal but measuring the amount of nutritional labels you saw on products on the supermarket shelves. It means your are conscious about what you eat, but doesn't really tell whether you bought that food product, tasted that food product, left it on the shelf etc. Actions on your content would include engaging with it: like clicking the picture to expand it, playing the video, sharing the content etc.


While I don't have official statistics on the complaint rates in Kenya, speaking as a Kenyan or an African for that matter, more often than not, we don't complain directly to the responsible brands. Instead, we rant amongst ourselves behind the veil of our desktop or mobile device screens. That is where our true colours come out.


When I entered into the space of social listening, I saw, firsthand, how expressive we are to people who cannot do anything to change a situation. When you consider this, you realize how impressions don't mean so much after all. It's great that you have high impressions, but so what?


Some experts consider impressions as a measure of how well your ad is doing because you can quantify your reach. However, I consider this lagging measure - easy to measure, hard to influence and improve. Ask yourself, what it really means if people saw your content but did not engage with it. Was it good? Was it bad? Was it neutral? Should you continue producing similar content in future? Should you stop? What can you change?


You may want to consider more leading measures like engagement rates and all the component measures. Good measures help you make a decision that influences your business goals.



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