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In Internet advertising jargon, an "impression" is defined by Wikipedia as

the display of an ad to a user while viewing a web page.

The word is most often used in the term Cost-per-Impression (CPM), the amount of money an advertiser spends for every 1000 views.

According to Reference.com, "impression" is defined as

the first and immediate effect on an experience or perception of the mind

What does the word "impression" have to do with Internet Advertising?

Who coined the term, and how did it come about?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

It is a continuation of usage from the legacy (print) advertising. An impression is a single publication of an advertisement, derived from the platen making an impression on paper in the letter press system.

It is not related to the impression it makes on the viewer/ user/ potential customer.

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"Not related to the impression it makes on the viewer..."? Except that this is exactly how it is used today. I think the OP wants to know when the transference occurred. – Robusto May 1 '12 at 19:09
@Robusto: If a transference occurred, it looks like it happened a LONG time ago. Apparently, the word has been used in both senses for centuries. I like how Kris quickly and astutely pointed out that, in advertising jargon, the word is related to the media, not the mind. – J.R. May 1 '12 at 19:27
@J.R. Then what does it mean to talk about "viewer/reader impressions" if not that? Surely we're not talking about printing presses and platens at this point. – Robusto May 1 '12 at 19:30
@Robusto: I beleive that's exactly what we're talking about. Not figurative printing presses, obviously, but the term is a carryover word – much like, say, "upper case." – J.R. May 1 '12 at 19:36
@kris, thanks for your response, although if the answer was 'obvious,' to me, I would not have asked the question. Assume that what's obvious for one person may not be to another. – katelyn friedson May 1 '12 at 19:57

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