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Impressions are not Impressive

Design Angler - Friday, February 09, 2018

Why do impressions have little merit when it comes to the world of Digital Marketing. Or better yet why do some Digital Marketing Agencies try to convince you that impressions are a great thing to have?

What is an impression?

An impression defined by the Internet Advertising Bureau's (IAB) Viewable impressions guidelines states that “50% of the pixels in a banner must be visible for one second to qualify as an impression.” In easier terms an impression is when anyone sees your ad or photo on a search engine or a website.

Why an impression isn’t impressive.

This is now called a “Vanity Metric.” This means that some Digital Marketing Agencies will try to convince you that the ad or website is doing really well. It is a metric that will have a high number and it will typically make you feel better about your poor performing ad. Honestly, any agency who puts merit on the amount of impressions should lose all credibility in that moment. If you are going to spend the money to advertise, make sure that it is money well spent.

When is an impression a positive metric?

Impressions can help as long as they are compared to something. An impression can tell you if your ad is performing well, hitting your target market, or if there is something you should change. You should always compare clicks to impressions (CTR or click through rate.) The higher your CTR, the better your ad is performing. If you use Google Adwords, an average CTR is around 2%, anything higher and you have a decent performing ad. If your click through rate is less than 2% then you know you have to find another way to make your ad more appealing to your target market.


  • 1. Impressions don't directly equate success.
  • 2. If a Marketing Agency ever tries to sell you on a “Vanity Metric” you need a new Marketing Agency
  • 3. Impressions can be a very positive metric when used to compare against something such as clicks. This can demonstrate engagement and whether your marketing efforts are effective.


Marketing can be confusing and Design Angler understands. If you have any questions on impressions or vanity metrics please feel free to call us at 218-497-1000 or email us at contact@designangler.com.