Why Digital Ad Impressions Matter for Auto Dealers

Why Digital Ad Impressions Matter for Auto Dealers

If you really want to understand the value of digital marketing, it’s time to go beyond clicks.

Sure, a website visitor is much more interesting than a person who thumbs past your ad on their news feed. However, passive metrics such as impressions and reach can tell you a lot about your digital performance.

What Are Impressions in Digital Marketing?

Impressions are the number of times your ad has been shown on a screen.

For example, if your ad pops up on people’s screens 500 times, the total impressions for that ad is 500. Simple enough, right?

But how do impressions lend value to your digital marketing efforts? Furthermore, if no one clicks on your ad, does it still provide value?

Impressions Help Illustrate Quality

Impressions are a great teammate to other marketing metrics such as clicks or reach. Clicks are the most familiar marketing metric because they provide direct value in the form of visits. Reach is also a valuable metric that will help you calculate how many times your audience has seen your ad.

  • Clicks ÷ Impressions = Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Impressions ÷ Reach = Frequency

In both of these equations, impressions (expressed as a quantity) collaborates with another quantity (clicks) to provide a percentage metric (also known as a qualitative value).

Click-through rate helps you monitor the engagement of your audience — regardless of size.

For example, let’s say we have two ads. Ad A and ad B.

  • Ad A has 1,000 impressions and 10 clicks.
  • Ad B has only 250 impressions but also has 10 clicks.

Even though ad A has more impressions, Ad A has a much lower CTR (1%) than Ad B (4%). In terms of clicks, the impressions in Ad B provided 4 times as much value for the dealership.

Impressions can also help indicate whether your audience is getting “burned out” on your ads.

To use the same example, let’s say Ad A (with 1,000 impressions) reached 200 people (reach). This means everyone in that audience of 200 saw ad A an average of 5 times. The frequency of Ad A is 5. Meanwhile, Ad B (250 impressions) reached 100 people, giving it a frequency of 2.5.

How high should your frequency be? It depends on the timeframe and the targeting. At the top of the funnel, we try to keep the frequency at or below 7. In the lower area of the funnel, the frequency of retargeting campaigns can safely rise up to around 20 in the span of 30 days without irritating your audience.

These insights show how impressions can be a valuable metric for your dealership’s campaigns.

The Billboard Tactic

In a world where you can calculate return on ad spend, where you can see how many people purchased your product after seeing your ad, why are billboards still so ubiquitous?

Even though digital platforms are still speeding ahead of billboards in terms of sophistication, billboards still provide ample return. Billboards just aren’t tracked as easily as digital ads.

When a dealer puts a billboard on the busiest street in their town, it gathers impressions — the problem is that the dealer doesn’t know:

  • How many people actually looked at the billboard when they drove past it
  • How many times each person read the message on the billboard
  • How many people purchased your product after seeing your billboard

All three of these things are possible with ads on Google and Facebook.

To make a billboard successful, you have to put it in the right location. Placement is key when you’re trying to get attention.

Digitally, placement is much less competitive and much easier to control. For example, one Facebook campaign has the potential to reach billions of people throughout the world, and one click of a button can place your Facebook ad on Instagram where you can reach millions more.

Facebook alone provides a multitude of placements where you can measure the number of impressions (among many other stats):

  • News feed (both mobile and desktop)
  • Sidebar
  • Instagram
  • Video feeds
  • Facebook and Instagram Stories
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Audience Network
  • and much more . . .

Social advertising platforms like Facebook offer a “reach” objective which allows advertisers to pay for impressions instead of paying for clicks.

Physical billboards and search engine ads represent two ends of the advertising spectrum. However, thanks to location tracking data in our phones, these two tactics could one day result in similar metrics. As curbed.com reported:

Google is testing technology in Germany that would apply the company’s expertise in targeted advertising to outdoor ads; with all that location data from Android users, the company can grab extensive demographic data about who passes by particular street corners.

This big-brother-esque project is just another reason that dealership marketers need to understand the value (and the technology) of marketing impressions.

How Important Are Impressions for Your Digital Strategy?

As a dealership, your social media content is shaped and strengthened by consistently measuring the right things. So, it’s also important to have proper advertising goals in place for your digital strategy. Keep measuring your success to see how close you are to these goals.

Impressions are valuable throughout the marketing funnel, but they are most valuable at the top, where people may not have heard of your brand or seen your inventory.

At this high point in your digital strategy, the objective is to reach as many people as many times as possible within a certain timeframe — but not forever.

Use impressions as a metric to build brand awareness, but don’t rely on impressions alone for your whole marketing funnel.

When you’re marketing to a wide audience who hasn’t yet converted or engaged with your dealership, it’s important to freshen up both your messaging and your targeting. After all, we don’t want to burn people out which could harm your brand.

Impress the Leads in Your Market with More Digital Tips

9 Clouds has a full library of digital marketing resources to help your dealership stand out.

Among these, we’re especially excited about our Performance Benchmarks Report for Automotive Digital Marketing.

This free PDF is packed with advice and metrics for every one of your key digital activities, including Facebook ads, search engine optimization, and much more.