Reach And Impressions

What's The Difference?

When it’s time to open up your analytics and see how your latest Facebook ad campaign is performing, you’ll find these terms over and over again: “impressions” and “reach,” but…what do they mean? And why do they matter?

To answer those questions, let’s start with some definitions:

Reach – Reach on Facebook refers to the total number of people who have seen your ad or content. 

Impressions – Impressions on Facebook refer to the number of times your ad or content has been displayed on a screen. 

For example: If your ad was shown to 100 people two times each, your reach would be 100 and your impressions would be 200. 


Facebook breaks down your reach into three categories: organic, paid, and viral.

Organic reach refers to the number of unique users who were shown your content organically in their News Feed.

Paid reach is the number of unique users who were shown a piece of your content because, well…you paid for it to happen. This is affected by your ad bids, budgets, and audience targeting.

Viral reach is the number of unique users who were shown your content because one of their friends interacted with it.

Reach is an important metric to track if you’re doing any sort of awareness campaign. The more unique users seeing your content – the better.

Tip: If your ads have reached a large number of people, but you have comparatively low conversions – it’s likely that you need to adjust your ad’s content or targeting.




If the same user was served your ad three times in the same campaign, three impressions would come from that one user (one reach).

clarifies that if a user scrolls past an ad on their screen, then scrolls back up to that ad, it would only count as one impression. If an ad appears for a user two different times within 24 hours, that would be two impressions.

It’s also important to note that if your piece of content includes a video, it doesn’t need to be played through to count as an impression. There is a separate distinction in Facebook for Business called “Viewed Impressions” where you can find analytics for your watch-throughs.

In our opinion, viewed impressions are a far more valuable metric than “served impressions.” A served impression just means that the ad was delivered. It doesn’t make a distinction on whether the ad had loaded before a user left the page or if the placement was prominent and noticeable vs. below the fold and totally ignored. 

Viewed impressions are important to track if you have concerns about over- or underwhelming your audience with the number of ads you put in front of them. By dividing your impressions by your reach you’ll wind up with your average impressions per user

How many impressions per user is the most effective frequency?

Good question. Most research suggests that users must see an ad several times before they are likely to interact with it. The effective frequency for your business will be affected by your industry, product, and market share. 


By consistently tracking the average impressions per user and comparing that against your conversion or click-through rate, you’ll be able to zero in on a range of what the effective frequency is for your audience. If your CTR drops off after users see a piece of your content 6 times, you can reasonably assume that your campaigns are starting to get stale once they’re reaching 4-5 impressions. 

Reach and impressions are important metrics on your path to killer ads. When you’re paying close attention to your metrics, you’re able to adjust creative or turn ads off the second they start to go stale. You’ll maximize your return by serving ads to your audience that they WANT to engage with. 


If you’re still struggling to make sense of your metrics, get in touch with us. We’re always happy to help.