How Impression-Based KPIs Drive Campaign Performance

Digital marketers can be our worst enemy.

After years of promoting the traceability of everything and deriving an accurate ROAS from digital marketing, we are expected to continue to do so.

And despite the fact that digital marketing offers much greater opportunities to uncover ROI for specific methods and channels, it sometimes seems that this traceability is overshadowed by the effect of softer, higher-level KPIs.

Don’t get me wrong.

Advertisers should continue to use metrics such as return on ad spend, return on investment, and LTV/CAC (lifetime value/customer acquisition cost) as their North Star metrics when allocating budget across channels and tactics.

But building demand for tomorrow at the top of the funnel requires a different mindset that can make some marketers (and let’s face it, CFOs) uncomfortable.

The good news is that higher funnel initiatives impact conversions in the lower funnel, and there are a variety of ways to measure it.

In this article, you’ll learn the impression-based KPIs you need to know as well as the native and paid tools you can use to measure impression impact.

the challenge

The buying experience has changed rapidly over the past decade, and marketers and leadership haven’t kept up with buying behaviors.

The root of the problem lies in the difference between buyer behavior and attribution.

Here’s why:

  • Buyers are not on a linear path.
  • Purchasing committees often drive decisions, not individuals (this is especially true for B2B). This means that the advertisement must reach multiple individuals on their way to the final purchase.
  • Users are smarter, more skeptical, and overwhelmed than ever before. Therefore, frequent viewing of powerful creatives is critical to building awareness, interest, and mindfulness.

Meanwhile, company leadership often makes decisions on archaic referral models, such as Last Click that ignore the nature of buyer behavior.

So how do you show the value of an ad on top of conversion?

Undertaking in-depth brand awareness studies is certainly an option for large advertisers.

But for smaller advertisers or those who want to get a quick sense of results, impressions-based KPIs are a great way to improve advertising at the top of the funnel.

Impression-based KPIs to know

If it appears in the funnel, it has value.

Consider your own experiences.

How many times have I seen an advertisement affecting a future decision?

You may not have clicked on the advertisement.

It may have taken a day for you to act on it, but it clearly affected your thinking.

These advertisers weren’t able to accurately say what value an impression/view had, but they knew enough to know it was valuable.

Determining what this value is can be difficult.

But here are some key performance indicators to include when evaluating top funnel ad success:

Improve brand search visibility

Top-of-Funnel (TOF) initiatives increase brand awareness, which drives search demand.

As a result, this is one of the best proxies for success for TOF initiatives


Brands that have more market awareness and that intelligently communicate their value proposition and features see higher click-through rates.

Pre-TOF Initiative Analysis / Post-TOF Initiative Analysis of CTR will provide insights into whether your efforts are paying off.

View conversions interaction

On YouTube and the Display Network (using video in the responsive ad unit), a co-view conversion is counted when at least 10 seconds of a skippable in-stream ad is viewed (or all if it’s less than 10 seconds).

View activity conversions

View activity conversions tell you that your ad was seen along the funnel, even though it wasn’t clicked.

While not as valuable as a click-based conversion, it still holds value when evaluating the performance of prospecting campaigns where a prospect hasn’t interacted with you yet.

Audience saturation

Reach, frequency, and audience saturation can be great KPIs if you have a well-defined audience.

Examples of high-value specific audiences include customer match lists, pixel-based retargeting lists, and custom audiences with I searched on google Defining audiences and account-based marketing (ABM).

This is a lower value for a metric with fuzzy targeting, eg similar to And the look semi to Or when using ‘enhanced’ targeting.

When searching, impression share can provide you insights into audience saturation.

Original tools to help you measure impression impact

Attribution is difficult. and messy.

No matter what the salesperson tells you, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for attribution—especially when you’re trying to identify impression-focused KPIs.

Although easy to breathe.

Here are five ways to measure impact with indigenous tools:

  1. Add relevant metrics that focus on impression (above) to platform offerings, internal dashboards, and client reports. For example, show when TOF initiatives lead to higher brand impressions.
  2. Run a geographic retention test to trigger TOF initiatives In select markets, but not in others. Then, evaluate the impact based on your lead, pipeline, and revenue data at the market level (including all traffic sources).
  3. Create a custom column Which combines click conversions with view activity weighted conversions to better understand the impact of a keyword or audience segment. Then, use this information to set target CPA bids.
  4. Benefit from elevator studies with Google and Facebook For a more automated way to learn about the growing impact of ads.
  5. Using Google Analytics user groups create an ‘exposed’ and ‘unexposed’ group Show retargeting ads to a single group. Next, measure your final KPIs to determine the impact of retargeting impressions.

Paid tools for measuring impression impact

While there are other tools, I can speak directly to Google Marketing Platform Products. Both Google Analytics And the Google Analytics 360 (GA360) Provides buyer journey reports under attribution > Transfers > The most important conversion paths.

However, the GA360 includes Google-based impression activity in these tracks.

other GMP product, Campaign Manager 360 (CM360), impression data outside of the Google ecosystem.

Here, you can tag impressions on URLs of non-Google sellers (such as Twitter and Reddit) to get a more comprehensive view of how impressions affect your purchase.

This can be valuable information when planning media, because the TOF initiative may not get credit by examining click-only KPIs.

For example, we recently had a client who noticed poor performance on Reddit.

We were considering trimming it, but looked at the fuel-powered CM360 Follow him Dashboard and saw that Reddit actually had the brand’s first impression (non-click) 41 times.

This data showed that on the surface, there was no conversion activity associated with the channel, it was introducing people to the brand, who were subsequently clicking on another CM360-branded link, then converting.


The impression to the right audience is valuable.

If you want to build a future-proof marketing program, demand must be generated through TOF initiatives that value non-click conversion points.

While it can be difficult to quantify at times, there are multiple indicators you can use to help you determine whether a channel or tactic is effective.

In short, you must:

  • Define impression-focused KPIs and their values.
  • Communicate (and align) with stakeholders About what success looks like during the funnel.
  • Be sure to The mix of media, strategies and tactics is informed By said KPIs.

More resources:

  • Top 6 KPIs you should be tracking
  • Google says impressions don’t equal search volume
  • Top 10 Pay Per Click Trends To Know In 2022

Featured image: H12/Shutterstock

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