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Impressions vs Clicks. What is the difference?

If you are new to advertising, understanding impressions vs clicks will help you analyse better your campaign data and see what to focus on. These measures in ratio to each other will determine the effectiveness of your advertising.

What are Impressions?

An impression is nothing more than a view of your online advertisement by a user. The more views you have, the more users are loading your web page and viewing it.

However, keep in mind that although the user has viewed your ad, it doesn’t necessarily mean it was intentional. Also, we cannot assume that the user actually paid attention to it, let alone read it. Therefore, although this number will be the highest count you will see, impressions are simply ads displayed on the page.

So why are impressions important? It’s because you cannot have a click without impressions. The users need to view your ad before they can decide whether or not to proceed further and click.

Impressions are usually calculated as Cost Per Mille (CPM) where Mille as the word suggests, means thousand. Thus, if you are paying for $2.00 CPM, $2.00 will earn you 1000 impressions on your ads.

What are Clicks?

A click is whenever a user actually clicks on your ads. Clicks are much more important than impressions as a measurement. Just like an impression can lead to a click, a click can lead to a conversion. And this is what you are after. Most advertisers including Adwords, use clicks as their primary metric for pricing.

Clicks are measured as Cost Per Click (CPC). You can pay for a number of clicks on your site or you can run advertising that pays you per clicks. Also, very importantly, clicks are filtered to prevent any competitors from constantly clicking and draining your click budget. If a user repeatedly clicks your ad, it is only counted as one click.

If you choose ads that pay per click, affiliate ads can come in handy. You can earn a higher payout if you add tracking code on the session of the user to track whether user converts or not.

What is the Click Through Rate (CTR) and why is it important?

Now that we know what impressions and clicks are, we can learn about the Click-Through Rate (CTR). CTR is measured by the ratio of clicks to impressions. In order to calculate CTR, you need to divide the total number of clicks by the total number of impressions. For example, if we take the example from above, if we paid $2.00 for 1000 impressions, and received 25 clicks, the CTR would result in 2.5%.

The higher the CTR, the more effective your ad is in enticing the user’s attention. However, if your CTR is low, it means that you probably need to modify your ad a little. Perhaps, one can change the text or image to hopefully attract more visitors. It also may mean that it is being viewed in wrong targeted audiences. Unfortunately, if your ad is on Facebook, there isn’t much control over this. This is because Facebook chooses which audience it deems to be most related. However, in other advertising sources, there are number of things you can do to improve your CTR.

How to convert impressions into clicks

Your goal at the end of the day is to convert those impressions into clicks. As mentioned previously, a click has the potential of converting the user. Conversions can be anything that is your goal – whether it is earning a sale, obtaining a lead, or having a user download something.

Conversion covers a board range of actions, but it still can be measured by the total money spent in comparison to the total money received. It is this value that will calculate your return on investment (ROI).

Alas, before we have conversions, we need to get down to the root of the issue. If you have a lot of impressions, and not a lot of clicks, you will not reach the conversion you wish. So how can you optimise your ad to turn those impressions into clicks?

Here are some tips to follow to improve this:
  • Begin with a broad target and narrow it down over time. Start with around 100 keywords to target, and narrow it down to best 10. Starting off with a small set of keywords will only get you one or two effective keywords.
  • Make your ads localized and take into account localised traits of the location such as the climate and local events.
  • Test different placements of where to place the ads. See which one gives better results.
  • Keep in mind certain keywords can be variable. Don’t avoid using them and analyze when best to target them.
  • Ensure your product is not showing up in unrelated queries by making use of negative keywords wherever possible.
  • Test different texts and images and make different variations.
  • When using Google CPC, you can check for your quality score. This value is dependent on your keyword score and relevance of your ad text.