Jul 05, 2022 BrandGen Team

When an Impression Isn't an Impression: Quality vs. Quantity

When an Impression Isn't an Impression: Quality vs. Quantity


We’ve all heard the age-old battle of quality vs. quantity, so what side should you be on when it comes to digital advertising impressions?

An impression refers to any time your ad is served on a web domain or app – regardless of the device. Impressions help you understand how many times your media is displayed to viewers, which can influence campaign awareness – IF the right people are seeing it.

That’s the question: are you more concerned with numbers that look good, or do you actually want your ideal audiences seeing your ads?

Recent Trends in Programmatic Advertising Impressions

In the world of paid digital advertising (focusing mainly on programmatic), some vendors sell marketers on a high quantity of impressions at a very low cost.

Their “inventory” of ad space is made up of the publications where they serve ads, and unfortunately, many of these publications are low quality with low demand (which is why they can serve the ads for so cheap!). We know as web users that we don’t pay much attention to ads on low quality publications, and sometimes it takes away from our perception of the advertisers themselves. Typically, you’re going to assume their products/services are also low quality.

This is where you need to take into account where you’re serving ads, and who is actually going to see them. Think of it this way: as a marketer, if I want quality potential customers seeing my ads, then I need to prioritize quality impressions on quality publications. Otherwise, the impressions are just empty numbers that don’t equate to actual results.

The hard truth: investing in quality will reduce the number of impressions that you get, and they will come at a higher cost – but this way, you don’t have to risk showing a “fake impression” or delivering a poor brand presence on low-quality sites.

If you haven’t noticed, we’re a fan of quality impressions. Let’s dig into more of the why.

What Is a CPM?

In marketing-metric speak, CPM stands for “cost per mille,” or per one-thousand impressions, which is a common metric for pricing web ads in digital advertising.

Typically when you’re looking at pricing, you might want to just “go for” the lowest CPM because hey, it’s a dazzling deal! In the context of quality vs. quantity impressions, that is not the mindset we’re going for.

Some marketers get hyped for high impressions because the numbers look good, but an impression is counted any time the platform serving the ads determines it was viewed by their standards.

By those standards, a low-cost impression is just a number, and you don’t know if:

  • the viewer even noticed it
  • the viewer is in any way interested in your products or services
  • the viewer clicked on and off the page within less time than you can count
  • the viewer got even an eyeful of your carefully articulated copy and stunning creative

When it comes down to it, a higher-cost CPM is worth it if you’re gaining quality views, so ditch the concept that high CPM numbers are the best way to measure campaign metrics.

What’s New: qCPM

It’s time to shift our digital advertising brains to an emphasis on quality that leads to results.

The qCPM (or quality CPM) is the driving force of impressions that aren’t based on empty numbers, but on quality views that can include parameters such as:

  • viewability,
  • time the ad is served,
  • ad display environment,
  • ideal user targeting,
  • placement of the ad,
  • ad delivery,
  • frequency capping,
  • and more.

If your organization is in a saturated B2B market (what’s not these days?), delivering to the right audience at the right time and the right place makes all the difference – plus, qCPM is a great addition to your account-based marketing strategy and can positively impact overall campaign performance.

How to Make Decisions for Quality CPMs

As with anything, do your research. Some publishers might claim quality impressions, but they don’t actually follow through. You can also choose a platform that knows the market and can select credible publishers for you.

As qCPM becomes more popular among advertisers, the truth will come out more when it comes to fraudulent impressions. For now, it’s important to be on guard and follow a quality over quantity approach for more valuable campaign results.

CPM is just one part of an effective digital advertising strategy. Learn more about how to develop a successful multi-channel campaign with the ebook, “Success in ABM Campaign Planning.”

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Published by BrandGen Team July 5, 2022