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Cost per impression, often abbreviated CPI, is a term used in online advertising and marketing related to web traffic. It refers to the cost of internet marketing or email advertising campaigns where advertisers pay each time an ad is displayed. Specifically, it is the cost or expense incurred for marketing potential customers who view the advertisement(s).
Cost per impression, along with cost per click and cost per order, is used to assess the cost effectiveness and profitability of online advertising. CPI is the closest online advertising strategy to those offered in other media such as television or print, which sell advertising based on estimated viewership or readership. CPI provides a comparable measure to contrast internet advertising with other media.
An impression is the display of an ad to a user while viewing a web page. A single web page may contain multiple ads. In such cases, a single pageview would result in one impression for each ad displayed. In order to count the impressions served as accurately as possible and prevent fraud, an ad server may exclude certain non-qualifying activities such as page-refreshes or other user actions from counting as impressions. When advertising rates are described as CPM or CPI, this is the amount paid for every thousand qualifying impressions served at cost.
Cost per impression is derived from advertising cost and the number of impressions.