Impression is a term used in the online marketing world to describe the number of times that a banner or display advertisement is viewed. Each view, whether the ad is clicked or not is counted as one impression.

In the beginning of online advertising and the recording of impressions the chance that click fraud or the use of robotic intervention was used to increase the count, filters were created to minimize their use. Impressions are, for accounting purposes, monitored and verified by the Interactive Advertising Bureau or IAB, which is a standards and watchdog industry group.

Counting impressions is the method by which most web advertising is accounted and paid for, and the cost is quoted in CPI (cost per impression). The IAB, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) have joined forces in an initiative called 3MS (Making Measurement Make Sense), with the purpose of better defining the value of display media. Served impressions are the current standard and are counted whether or not the ad itself is fully loaded and in a space viewable to the end-user and may be defined as viewable impressions, which are those accessed by a user for at least one second.

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