We were interested to see Ogivly & Mather touting their a new ‘Virtual Pilgrimage’ campaign for the Shangri-La, Lhasa Tibet recently, and proudly proclaiming that it had garnered a billion ‘impressions’.
Now a billion is a big impressive number, even in China which has more than its share of big impressive numbers.
So does that mean that a billion people clicked on the ad to "join the brand on a 'virtual pilgrimage' to Tibet", creating "epic" awareness for the hotel as the PR blurb put it? Well not exactly. We looked up what a digital impression is, and it turns out it’s got nothing to do with actually watching anything, or taking a virtual pilgrimage to anywhere.
Here’s what Bob Hoffman of Ad Contrarian fame had to say about impressions, in a piece subtly titled The Epic Screwing of Online Advertisers.
We think of an impression as one ad seen by one person. In the impossibly sneaky and perfidious world of online advertising an "impression" has nothing to do with either ads or people.
Instead, it has a definition that is so supremely full of shit that you have to be brain dead not to realise that it was created to confuse and deceive.
Here is the Interactive Advertising Bureau's (IAB) definition of an "impression":
“Impression’ is a measurement of responses from a Web server to a page request from the user browser.”
How's that for bullshit? In other words, a browser sends a message to a server to send it something, and that's called an impression.
It turns out that there’s also something called a viewable impression, which is defined as "those that are at least 50% visible to the user for at least one second." So if you manage to see half a frame for at least a second that’s counted as an impression… mmmmm.
The last word comes from the agency in a Campaign Asia piece on the video:
The agency said it could not provide business orientated metrics such as room bookings because as a new hotel there is no basis for comparison and attribution to this campaign would be difficult due to concurrent PR and media activities.
Still with a billion "impressions" who needs room bookings?