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Quick Description = A user seeing an ad on a Google network

Referred to as = Impr.

An ‘impression’ is when someone see’s your ad in the paid search listings or on a site in the Google network, regardless of whether they Click on the ad. Impressions count the amount of times that your ads have been seen collectively on either the Search or Display networks.

This is one of the fundamental metrics and represents all views of your ads. Impressions are often abbreviated in AdWords column headers to ‘Impr’. Below we have listed some important features, behaviour, and information on Impressions below:

  • Every time an ad appears on the Search or Display Network, an impression is counted.
  • When a user searches within Google Maps, it may be the case that an ad is partially shown. This will still count as an impression.
  •  When Google Instant is used by someone and impression can be counted under the following circumstances:
    • User begins typing and then clicks a search result, ad or related search (changing the results page)
    • User begins searching and then presses ‘enter’ or clicks on the ‘search’ button
    • User begins searching and then clicks a predicted search from the drop down list of popular searches
    • If the results are displayed for 3 seconds or more while the user types
    • Clicks are defined the same way on both the Search and Display networks.


Impressions can be seen for almost all components of the account, from account level, campaign, ad, keyword, placement, etc. It is a fundamental metric and its relationship to Clicks is what CTR (Click Through Rate) describes, which in turn strongly effects QS (Quality Score) and overall account performance.

Because of the fundamental nature of Impressions, you can see Impressions by default in almost all reports in AdWords, there are few exceptions to this.

Unwanted Impressions

Because impressions count all ad views they can be a good indication, when used in conjunction with other metrics like CTR whether your ads are relevant or not. Very low CTR, means you need to get a lot more impressions to gain a few more clicks, one way to improve this is to reduce the unwanted impressions with negative keywords.

You can see search terms that resulted in a click, but you cannot see search terms that only resulted in an Impressions and not a click. Thus, good account structure and extensive negative keyword research is vital.

CPM Bidding

There are bidding methods that allow you to bid on something other than a click, Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) is one of them. Using this bidding strategy, you pay for every 1,000 impressions your ads receive. This is most commonly used for branding campaigns and can only done on the Display network.

If you are aiming to get your brand in front of as many people as possible, optimising your campaigns for impressions is a great way to achieve that.

Competitive Metrics

We list a range of competitive metrics that compare your impressions to all available impressions as well as competitor impressions below. These metrics show you how many of the available impressions there are out there and what percentage of them you are receiving. These can be valuable tools when analysing impressions and account performance.

More Information

Impressions are often referred to in other metrics; on their own they offer little insight into overall account performance. Therefore, you may also be interested in the following guides related to Impressions:


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