Small Business Glossary

Pay Per Impression PPI - definition & overview


Pay Per Impression or PPI is a revenue model in digital advertising where advertisers are charged based on the number of times their ads are displayed.

Pay Per Impression (PPI), also known as Cost Per Mille (CPM), is a digital advertising pricing model where advertisers pay a predetermined amount for every 1,000 impressions (or views) their advertisement receives. This model is particularly popular in the realm of online advertising, where impressions are easy to track and quantify.

In the context of small businesses, particularly those operating in Australia, PPI can be a cost-effective way to increase brand visibility and reach a wider audience. This is because PPI allows businesses to pay only for the number of times their ad is displayed, rather than the number of times it is clicked on or interacted with. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses with limited advertising budgets, as it allows them to maximise their reach without incurring excessive costs.

Understanding PPI

The concept of PPI is rooted in the broader field of digital advertising, which encompasses a wide range of strategies and techniques designed to promote products or services online. PPI is one of several pricing models used in this field, alongside others such as Pay Per Click (PPC) and Cost Per Action (CPA).

Under the PPI model, advertisers pay for every 1,000 impressions their ad receives. An 'impression' in this context refers to a single instance of an ad being displayed on a user's screen. This means that if an ad is displayed 1,000 times, the advertiser would pay the agreed upon rate once. If the ad is displayed 2,000 times, the advertiser would pay twice, and so on.

Benefits of PPI

One of the key benefits of PPI is its simplicity. Unlike other pricing models, which can involve complex calculations and variables, PPI is straightforward and easy to understand. This makes it a popular choice among small businesses, which may not have the resources or expertise to navigate more complex advertising models.

Another benefit of PPI is its scalability. Because advertisers pay per 1,000 impressions, it's easy to scale up or down based on budget and marketing goals. This flexibility can be particularly beneficial for small businesses, which may need to adjust their advertising strategies frequently in response to changing market conditions.

Limitations of PPI

While PPI has many benefits, it also has some limitations. One of the main drawbacks is that it does not guarantee engagement. Just because an ad is displayed 1,000 times does not mean it will be clicked on or interacted with 1,000 times. This means that PPI can sometimes result in high visibility but low engagement.

Another limitation of PPI is that it can be difficult to measure its effectiveness. Unlike other pricing models, which provide clear metrics such as click-through rates or conversion rates, PPI only provides information on the number of times an ad was displayed. This can make it challenging to determine whether a PPI campaign is delivering the desired results.

Implementing PPI in Small Businesses

Implementing a PPI strategy in a small business involves several key steps. The first is to identify the target audience. This involves understanding who the business's customers are, what their needs and preferences are, and how they typically interact with online content.

Once the target audience has been identified, the next step is to create engaging and relevant ads. These should be designed to capture the audience's attention and encourage them to engage with the business. This could involve using compelling visuals, catchy headlines, or persuasive calls to action.

Choosing the Right Platforms

Choosing the right platforms for a PPI campaign is crucial. Different platforms have different audiences, and the success of a PPI campaign can depend largely on whether the chosen platform's audience aligns with the business's target audience.

For example, a business targeting young, tech-savvy consumers might choose to run a PPI campaign on a platform like Instagram or Snapchat, while a business targeting professionals might choose LinkedIn. It's important to research each platform's audience and capabilities before making a decision.

Setting a Budget

Setting a budget for a PPI campaign is another important step. This involves determining how much the business is willing to spend on advertising, and how this budget will be allocated across different platforms and campaigns.

It's important to remember that while PPI can be a cost-effective way to increase visibility, it's not the only factor to consider when setting a budget. Other factors, such as the quality of the ads and the relevance of the target audience, can also have a significant impact on the success of a PPI campaign.

Measuring the Success of a PPI Campaign

Measuring the success of a PPI campaign can be challenging, due to the limitations mentioned earlier. However, there are several strategies that businesses can use to gauge the effectiveness of their PPI efforts.

One approach is to track the number of impressions and compare this to the number of clicks or interactions. While this won't provide a complete picture of a campaign's success, it can give an indication of whether the ads are attracting attention and prompting users to engage.

Using Analytics Tools

Another approach is to use analytics tools. These can provide detailed insights into how users are interacting with ads, including how long they spend viewing them, whether they click on them, and what actions they take after clicking.

Many digital advertising platforms provide built-in analytics tools, which can be a valuable resource for businesses running PPI campaigns. These tools can help businesses understand their audience's behaviour and preferences, and make informed decisions about how to optimise their campaigns.

Conducting Surveys

Conducting surveys can also be a useful way to measure the success of a PPI campaign. This could involve asking customers how they heard about the business, whether they recall seeing its ads, and what their impressions of the ads were.

While surveys can be time-consuming and may not provide a complete picture of a campaign's success, they can provide valuable qualitative insights that can complement the quantitative data provided by analytics tools.


In conclusion, Pay Per Impression (PPI) is a digital advertising pricing model that can be a cost-effective way for small businesses to increase their visibility and reach a wider audience. While it has its limitations, with careful planning and implementation, it can be a valuable tool in a small business's marketing arsenal.

By understanding the benefits and limitations of PPI, choosing the right platforms, setting a realistic budget, creating engaging ads, and using analytics tools and surveys to measure success, small businesses can maximise the potential of their PPI campaigns and achieve their marketing goals.

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