Switching to Impressions: The First Stop On Your Journey Toward Audience-Based Ad Buying

03.08.2022 Lorie Bourque3 min

Depending on where and how you invest in local advertising, your business has likely used several pricing models for purchasing ad space. Television has traditionally relied on rating points as a key component of pricing commercial time, while digital ad pricing may use models such as flat-rate pricing—similar to how billboard space is sold—as well as cost-per-click models.

But, as more and more marketers blend traditional and digital advertising solutions together in multi-platform campaigns, impressions have grown in popularity as the preferred pricing model across the digital advertising spectrum. Impressions typically gauge the number of consumers exposed to an ad campaign. As a result, a focus on this metric allows for cross-platform pricing evaluations based on the cost per every 1,000 impressions, or CPM.

This is great news for small to medium-sized businesses eager to get the most value possible out of their advertising budgets. As media sellers increasingly embrace impressions to price advertising inventory, marketers can now purchase ad space with greater confidence in what they’re paying for—and who they’re paying to reach.

This industry-wide change is opening the door to adopting audience-based solutions as a more reliable and profitable advertising strategy. Read on to learn more about impressions and how these innovative approaches can lift your advertising strategy to new heights.

The Limitations of Traditional Ad Pricing Models

While TV ratings, flat-rate pricing and pay-per-click (PPC) models were all designed as good-faith solutions to accurately reflect the value of advertisements, these models suffer from some limitations in their ability to track and measure exactly how many views an ad receives. Furthermore, these approaches are often limited in their ability to measure the number of relevant consumers reached by an ad campaign.

A similar problem can develop when paying for flat-rate online ad space. For example, click-based pricing is insufficient to understanding how impressions are building top-of-funnel awareness that later leads to engagement with ad content.

How Impressions Help You Reach Your Target Audience

Traditional advertising channels have no way of identifying ad impressions down to the individual user level. With addressable advertising, though, your ads are specifically delivered to a desired audience segment.

Digital impressions are a game-changer in this regard, since they provide verifiable viewing that can be traced back to individual consumers. This rich user data can in turn be used to target a specific audience so that impressions are delivered only to consumers that meet your filtered targeting criteria.

Through this approach, even broad reach channels such as cable TV can be empowered and optimized through more precise audience targeting and cost-effective, impression-based ad buys. 

The ROI Benefits of Buying Ad Impressions

By ditching ratings and flat-rate ad space to invest more strategically in ad impressions, your business is able to better guide its spending toward campaigns that generate new revenue. The return on this investment can come in several forms, including:

  • Trackable, concrete ad impressions. Unlike other types of advertising where you can only estimate the total reach, impressions offer a different way to evaluate the advertising platforms in your media mix.
  • The ability to recognize and track the full spectrum of viewing audiences. As TV audiences become more fragmented across cable TV, connected TV, TV Everywhere and over-the-top streaming, the traditional models for measuring audiences have been unable to keep pace. For TV, shifting to an impressions focus eliminates the complicated division problems that can cause confusion when ratings and penetration percentages are compared across different geographies and footprints.
  • More relevant ad campaigns that increase engagement potential. Instead of creating advertisements that try to walk a fine line in speaking to multiple segments of your target audience, your ads can be tailored to a more specific group—and this more specific messaging, targeted to that audience’s biggest concerns or needs, can drive actions and referrals at a higher rate.
  • Better ad analytics to fine-tune your campaigns over time. The more targeted your campaigns become, the more effectively you can apply data-driven insights to adapt and optimize future campaigns.

Ready to leverage ad impressions to boost your ad performance and ROI? A digital advertising partner can help adapt your existing ad strategy to reap the benefits of impression-based ad buying. Contact Cox Media to get started today.

About the Author

Lorie Bourque

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