How to Interpret Digital Marketing Reports

If you are using a digital marketing agency, you likely receive reports on your services (if not, maybe you should check out Ascent). Sometimes, it can be hard to understand the difference between an impression and a click, or what specific terms mean, especially when your expertise isn’t digital marketing (which, if you’ve hired a digital marketing agency, chances are it isn’t your expertise). Fortunately, digital marketing is the expertise of Ascent Digital, so today you’re going to get a little explanation of some of the things you can expect to see in your reporting from us.

Clicks, Impressions, and Click-Through Rate

If you’re running a display, Pay-Per-Click, or social ads campaign, you’ve likely seen the terms impressions, clicks, and click-through-rate on the reports you’ve received. Some people may be led to think that clicks and impressions are the same things, but they’re very much not. Impressions are how many people see your ad. If somebody meets the requirements for your display ad or types in one of your targeted keywords on Google, they’ll see your result or display ad pop up. Impressions don’t mean that the viewer clicked the ad. That’s a click. First, someone gets an impression by seeing the ad, then they click on it. 

The distinction between clicks and impressions is very important. Some services will be pay-per-click, meaning that people can see your ads, but they have to click on them for you to pay. Other services are based on impressions, which means that you pay when people just see your ad. The difference is significant

These two things combine to create a click-through rate, which is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions, then multiplied by 100. So, if you have 1,000 impressions and got 539 clicks, your click-through rate will be 53.9%. In programmatic display ads, the specified national average click-through rate is .05% or 5 clicks for every 10,000 impressions.

Conversions, Cost per Conversion, and Cost per Click

If you have an SEM campaign running, you’ll be likely to see terms such as Conversions, Cost/Conversion, and CPC on the reports. These are also very important aspects of your campaign, so it’s important you understand what all of these mean.


Conversions are the goals that you were aiming to achieve through the campaign. Whether it’s getting calls or forms being filled out, you have a goal that you want achieved through your SEM campaign.

Cost per Conversion

Cost per conversion takes into account the amount of money that you spent on the campaign, divided by the number of conversions for the specified period of time. For example, if you had 5 conversions on a budget of 200 dollars, then your Cost per Conversion was $40.

Cost per Click (CPC)

Cost per Click, or Paid Search campaigns are a digital marketing effort where you pay to have your website appear at the top of search results, above organic results. This is a highly competitive method, and if you do make it onto paid results you’ll have to pay per click that you get. This price varies every time the keywords are searched, so there’s not really a set price every time. Because of this, the reports will show an average cost per click, rather than a set cost per click. The average spans all of the keywords in the campaign. You should also be able to find the average cost per click of each keyword as well. 

It can be hard to understand all of the digital marketing terms and concepts when you’re not an expert, and the reports can read like a foreign language sometimes. Hopefully this breakdown of display and SEM terms on reports will help you have an easier timer reading your next reports.

If you don’t receive reports, see how Ascent Digital can provide top-notch services here.