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Brian Gilbert

Grossly Irrelevant.

Brian Gilbert | Vice President, Integrated Marketing
6.2.2008       Comments (0)

Why are online media plans based on gross impressions?

It continually frustrates me that impressions is considered a key metric by many marketers.

For one thing, you have no idea if you've made any kind of impression.  Back in the day before VCRs and DVRs and TiVo, when you ran a TV commercial, you could pretty much count on having some impact on the subconscious.  Unless, of course, your target audience took the opportunity to either go to the bathroom or go to the kitchen to make a sandwich.

Online?  Unless your rich media banner is truly obnoxious and takes over the screen, you know that viewers have trained themselves not to look. You’re largely invisible to them. They adjust their screen size so they don't see your brightly blinking ads.  They look past your leaderboards. They regularly delete your email without opening it.

Any marketer worth his or her salt would never base the success of a direct marketing campaign on impressions.  It’s like a batter basing his performance on how many pitches he’s faced – not how many hits or RBI’s he’s scored.  Certainly, the first step is knowing the size of your target market and how many of them you can reach in each medium.  But that's the first step, not the ultimate goal. 

I'd feel better about calling it reach or audience.  Impressions implies some kind of impact -- when nine times out of ten there's no impression made at all.

So let's stop talking about impressions and start talking about how we can reasonably measure real results.