CPI = Cost Per Impression Relating to Promotional Products

  • Feb 6, 2020

By Nancy Gudekunst


Cost per impression ($) = Advertising cost ($) / Number of Impressions (#)

Think about the different advertising methods you can spend budget on.  Do you know where you get the biggest bang for the buck?  While it's difficult to pinpoint, success can be measured in the number of times eyes see your message, known as "cost per impression" or CPI.

To measure Cost Per Impression, estimate the number of times the message will be seen.  For instance, an advertising wall calendar could be estimated to be looked at an average of 365 times per year.  For 100 calendars costing $7.30 each, the CPI would be $ .02 per day per recipient.  Another example of CPI for promotional products is logo-ed bags.  On average, each generates 3,300 impressions over its lifetime.  At $5 cost per bag, the CPI is less than one cent!

Many advertising methods use this measure to justify the cost.  For instance, a newspaper may have a distribution of 10,000, and assume that each recipient passes their copy onto another reader.  An advertisement on page 3 of the business page "will be seen by 20,000 eyes".  Assuming the advertisement has a cost of $1,000, the CPI would be $ .05.  Five cents per pair of eyes on that ad on page 3.

Or, you could hand someone a desired and useful gift, which just happens to have your ad copy tastefully decorating the object.  It could be as simple as a ballpoint pen, or as special as an engraved wine glass.  First, ensure the impression is a good one.  Carefully selected imprinted gifts are advertising that your audience "thanks" you for!!  Choose quality that will reflect well on your company and match the occasion as well as the intended recipient's taste.  This step cannot be overemphasized - a poorly chosen product can be the difference between a positive, or negative impression of your brand.

A 2010 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study shows advertising specialties are less expensive per impression than most other media.  The result of thousands of consumer surveys taken worldwide, the study rightly concludes that promotional products are the most highly regarded form of advertising and that 85% of people can recall the advertiser that gave them a logo-ed item.


The major difference between the printed publication and the promotional gift is that the physical item has been targeted directly to your intended audience, and will be seen.  Ideally, the product will be in front of this audience when they are in a position to use your product or service.  An example of this would be a plumber’s magnet strategically placed on the water heater, or a calculator given to a CPA's tax clients.

Keep in mind the cost of the advertising that actually reaches your audience.  We all know that 20,000 pairs of eyes didn't see that ad copy on page 3 of the newspaper.



Since the mid-90's, Nancy Gudekunst, MAS, has been the 2nd generation owner of MARCO Ideas Unlimited, an Oregon family business founded in 1959. Nancy's years of experience help cut through the clutter of swag options with creative ideas that achieve goals. Certified as a WBE and DBE.


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