Cost Per Impression

Definition of Cost Per Impression

Cost Per Impression (CPI) is a digital advertising term used to measure the cost an advertiser pays for each time their ad is displayed to a viewer. It’s commonly used in online advertising campaigns, where payment is calculated based on the number of impressions the ad receives. In other words, CPI determines the cost for every 1,000 views or displays of an advertisement (usually referred to as CPM, Cost Per Mille).


Cost Per Impression in phonetics is: /kɒst pər ɪmˈprɛʃən/

Key Takeaways

  1. Cost Per Impression (CPM) is an advertising metric used to calculate the cost an advertiser pays for every 1,000 impressions of their ad.
  2. CPM is a useful tool for comparing the effectiveness and reach of different advertising platforms, helping advertisers to determine where to allocate their budget.
  3. Optimizing ad creatives, targeting the right audience, and using A/B testing can help improve CPM performance and deliver better results for advertisers.

Importance of Cost Per Impression

Cost Per Impression (CPI) is an important term in the technology and digital marketing industries because it is a key metric that allows businesses to measure and evaluate the efficiency of their online advertising campaigns.

CPI refers to the cost an advertiser pays each time an ad is displayed to a user, regardless of any resulting interaction or conversion.

By tracking this metric, businesses can gain a better understanding of the reach and effectiveness of their advertising efforts.

This insight helps them to optimize their marketing campaigns, allocate resources more effectively, and ultimately maximize their return on investment (ROI). CPI also facilitates comparison between different advertising channels and methods, enabling companies to identify the most cost-effective strategies for targeting their desired audience and driving user engagement.


Cost Per Impression (CPI), also known as Cost Per Mille (CPM), is a digital advertising metric primarily used to measure the value and efficiency of an online ad campaign. Unlike other metrics such as Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Impression focuses on gauging the overall exposure of an advert rather than its immediate engagement with the target audience. This metric is commonly utilized by businesses seeking to maximize their brand visibility within the digital space while carefully managing their advertising budget.

By analyzing the cost for every 1,000 ad impressions, advertisers can strategically allocate their resources and optimize their campaigns to reach the maximum number of potential customers while minimizing their costs. CPI is instrumental for businesses that prioritize awareness and recognition over immediate direct conversions, such as the ones driven by a CPC model. For instance, a new brand entering the market may be more interested in generating buzz and making their presence known to a broad audience rather than solely driving sales at the early stages.

By using the Cost Per Impression metric, marketers are able to ascertain the potential reach of their campaigns and compare the efficiency of various advertising channels or formats. Moreover, this metric can also be employed in the process of retargeting, whereby businesses attempt to reconnect with users who have already expressed interest in their brand or product. Overall, Cost Per Impression is a crucial tool for businesses, as it helps establish a strong digital presence, fine-tune their advertising strategies, and ultimately attain an increased return on investment from their marketing efforts.

Examples of Cost Per Impression

Online Advertising Campaigns: One of the most common real-world examples of Cost Per Impression (CPM) can be found in online advertising campaigns. Websites and advertisers often use CPM pricing models to buy and sell ad space. In this case, advertisers pay a fixed amount for every thousand impressions (views) of their ad. For example, if a website charges a CPM of $5, the advertiser would pay $5 for their ad to be displayed 1,000 times.

Social Media Marketing: Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter also use CPM as a key metric when running ad campaigns. Advertisers can either set a budget based on a specific CPM or pay a platform’s algorithm to optimize their ad delivery based on the set objective. For example, a business might run a Facebook ad campaign with a budget of $100 and a CPM of $10, meaning their ad would be served 10,000 times to the target audience.

Email Marketing Campaigns: Although not as prevalent, CPM can also be used in email marketing campaigns. In this scenario, marketers may pay a set amount for every thousand emails sent or every thousand subscribers who have opened the emails. For instance, if a marketer paid a CPM of $20 for an email campaign sent to 5,000 subscribers, the total cost would be $100 (20 * 5). By tracking open rates, bounce rates, and engagement, marketers can analyze the effectiveness of their email campaigns.

Cost Per Impression FAQ

1. What is Cost Per Impression?

Cost Per Impression (CPI) is a digital advertising pricing model where advertisers pay a fixed amount for every 1,000 impressions their ads receive. An impression refers to the number of times an ad is displayed on a website or in an app, regardless of whether it is clicked or not.

2. How is Cost Per Impression calculated?

To calculate Cost Per Impression, divide the total cost of the campaign by the number of impressions, then multiply the result by 1,000. For example, if a campaign costs $100 and generates 10,000 impressions, the CPI = ($100 / 10,000) * 1,000 = $10.

3. What is the difference between Cost Per Impression and Cost Per Click?

Cost Per Impression (CPI) is based on the number of times an ad is displayed, while Cost Per Click (CPC) is based on the number of times an ad is clicked. In a CPI model, advertisers pay for ad exposure, while in a CPC model, they pay only when a user clicks on the ad.

4. How can Cost Per Impression help me optimize my ad campaigns?

Cost Per Impression provides a way to measure the cost-effectiveness of your ads in terms of visibility and brand awareness. By monitoring the CPI of different ads and placements, you can determine which ads are generating the most exposure for your budget. This allows you to optimize your campaigns by focusing on the ads and placements that have the lowest CPI and the highest impact on your target audience.

5. Is Cost Per Impression the best pricing model for my advertising campaign?

It depends on your advertising goals. If your objective is to increase brand visibility and awareness, a Cost Per Impression model may be the best choice. However, if your goal is to drive clicks and conversions, a Cost Per Click or Cost Per Action model might be more effective. It is essential to choose the pricing model that aligns with your specific campaign objectives and KPIs.

Related Technology Terms

  • Advertising Campaign
  • Impression Metrics
  • Ad Impressions
  • Media Buying
  • Cost Per Thousand (CPM)

Sources for More Information


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