Kim Brown
By Kim Brown | SEM | November 29, 2016

Impression Share: Finding Your Best Audience

What Does It All Mean?

When SEM newbs (we’ve all been there) learn how to analyze a campaign’s success, they start by studying Impression Share. Simply put: Impression Share is the number of available user views for a given advertisement. 


Next, the new technician forges through campaign analytics without understanding the more obtuse Impression Share concepts: what is an impression and why aren’t all ads always eligible for those impressions? While this is SEO/SEM 101, it is a challenging question to fully grasp.

Us SEM folk would love every impression to turn into a click (and subsequently a conversion– measurable ROI), but the complex world of Impression Share prevents this from happening, and for good reason: the internet is just too big and the populace is too diverse. No advertiser will ever appeal to everyone, everywhere, always. It is in the advertiser’s best interest to understand their potential client so that their ads speak more directly to those potential users. This is also the key to managing a campaign’s budget. Check out a great video deep-dive to better understand how Impression Share fits into SEM optimization.

Impression Share is to SEM as a New Restaurant is to a Restaurateur

By using SEM tools advertisers can narrow a campaign’s available impressions, but increase the user’s potential buy-in. This is a good thing. I worked in the restaurant industry for many years, and the number one most valuable skill for making it in the hospitality world is reading people. Having a natural ability to understand your peers, your staff and – most importantly – your guests lends itself to running a successful restaurant.

Consider this: a restaurateur, Sally, scouts locations in Manhattan for her new 10-seater Ethiopian restaurant. Sally looks at Time’s Square and the West Village respectively. Time’s Square has tens of thousands of passersby (impressions) each day; however, Sally knows that this audience (impressions) is too broad, their culinary interests are too diverse and that Sally’s overhead would be too much. When Sally analyzes the West Village she sees that there is more local/neighborhood traffic (impressions) than Times Square: more people are looking for a quiet and intimate meal, and she will have less overhead. While both locations receive relatively great traffic (impressions) one location receives impressions that are more likely to convert because Sally is choosing an audience that’s better suited to her brand. To summarize, think of the West Village as Sally’s # of eligible impressions and think of her impressions received as the # of people who stop to read the menu, thus determining Sally’s percentage of the available impressions!


Putting it all Together

By homing in on her ideal Impression Share pool Sally has also improved her odds of consumer conversion (think of Sally’s conversions as the number of people who sit down at a table and buy lunch after reading the menu while walking by her restaurant in the West Village).

For businesses and online advertisers who don’t recognize all of Impression Share’s tangential relationships, they are missing out on endless opportunities to engage with consumers and build brand affinity. When an advertiser has the ideal Impression Share for a campaign that also means that they’re reaching the consumers who are more apt to convert.

And THAT is Impression Share 101. The rabbit hole for campaign optimization is longer than El Chapo’s tunnel, but in order to understand the layers to a great campaign we all start with Impression Share.



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