This is a tricky subject for a lot of people, so I want to try and tackle this once and for all. I am sorry if this turns into a bit of a maths class, but it has to be done!
What I want to start with is 1,000 impressions ≠ 1,000 impressions. Impressions are not of the same value – an impression on Facebook is not the same value as an impression on eBay, which is not the same as an impression on Linked In, which is not the same as an impression for a text advert on an affiliate site.
There are many reasons that the impressions may be worth more or less. The first reason is placement. Remember your end goal is to increase lead generation and display advertising helps to do this by increasing brand awareness, so the placement of your advert is very important. The top of the home page of AOL is a better placement than the bottom of the search results on eBay and the side of a ‘sticky page’ (something with a lot of content that you’ll linger on) is a better placement than the top of a page with no content that you’ll click away from in seconds.
Next up is, well, placement again – but in a different sense of the word. Is your advert the only advert in the competition for the consumer’s eye or are you sharing the space? If there are 5 adverts on one page, is that as valuable as being the only advertiser on the page? No, it’s not. The less advertisers; the better for you.
Finally, the advert. If you have an animated banner advert with clear branding, that impression will mean more to the consumer than a static advert with no logo or a text advert with a logo. If it means that people will pay more attention to it and remember it (in a positive light) then it is worth more to you. Good branding is worth more than poor branding.
So, does this mean that you shouldn’t advertise on sites like Facebook because they have lots of ads, with no animation and little branding? No, it means you should understand what you’re paying for! If you pay 5 times less for 1,000 Facebook impressions or affiliate text ad impressions and you determine that the impression is worth 5 times less – then that makes perfect sense!
Each medium of advertising has it’s value, just make sure that you know what the impression value is to you and don’t pay more than that!