If you want to earn more ad-based revenue on YouTube, it pays to understand how CPM rates work.
As a YouTube creator, you get a cut of what advertisers pay when an ad is shown on your channel. The higher the CPM that an advertiser pays to run those ads, the more money you make at the end of the day.
In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about YouTube CPM: what it is, why it matters, and how you can use it to your advantage.
Cost Per 1,000 impressions or “CPM” for short is a metric that represents how much advertisers are spending to run ads on YouTube.
There are two main CPM types in YouTube analytics.
CPM is the cost advertisers pay per 1000 ad impressions before YouTube’s revenue share, whereas RPM or “Revenue Per Mille” is your total channel revenue per 1000 views after YouTube's revenue share.
RPM tends to be a much better metric for YouTube creators, as it gives a better snapshot of where your monthly revenue is coming from.
Here’s a quick overview of the differences between CPM and RPM.
Even though RPM is more useful to creators, you can still use CPM to your advantage as a YouTuber.
Knowing your channel’s average CPM will give you a benchmark to track whether your CPM is going up or down over time.
And familiarizing yourself with the rates that advertisers typically pay for topics relevant to your niche can help you generate content with higher ad-based revenue potential.
YouTubers earn CPM-based revenue on ads that are displayed (CPM) and played back (Playback CPM). A skipped ad will not earn you CPM. You need an AdSense account and a monetized YouTube channel to earn CPM on YouTube.
You can find your channel’s playback based CPM by visiting:
Your playback based CPM is the estimated average gross revenue per thousand playbacks where one or more ads are shown.
Your revenue and ad rates reports will also show you which ad types are driving the most revenue on your channel.
Google offers a 45/55 split to all YouTube creators. Google keeps 45 percent of all YouTube advertising revenue generated from your videos, and you get the remaining 55 percent.
The average YouTube CPM was $7.45 in 2019, according to AdStage’s analysis of over 155 million ad impressions for ads that ran on YouTube.
Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this question. YouTube CPM rates vary hugely from category to category. They’re impacted by factors like seasonality, ad type, and more. And they are not publicized by Google.
To determine if your current YouTube CPM is trending above or below average, you’ll need to do some Googling. See if you can find discussions on CPMs from other creators in your niche, and use that data as a benchmark.
For example, according to this discussion on /r/PartneredYouTube, “creators with 2000 subs get $40 CPMs because they do real estate content, and creators with 2M Subs get a $4CPM because they do entertainment and are a personality-driven channel.”
A several factors influence how CPM rates are determined. Understanding how these factors impact your channel’s CPM and playback-based CPM rates can help you drive more YouTube revenue over time.
There are several ad types you can add to your YouTube videos, and some of these are more expensive (higher CPM rates) for advertisers to run than others.
Some age groups are more expensive to advertise to than others. If you’re running an educational YouTube channel for kids, your CPMs will likely be a lot different than a vlogger whose audience is in the 20 to 30-year-old age bracket.
Advertisers can control where their ads are seen. And different countries have different levels of competition in the ad market. Hence, CPM rates often vary by country. If your audience is based in a country with a top-performing CPM, you’ll see better CPMs across the board.
Ads displayed on mobile devices typically have lower CPM rates than ads displayed on desktop devices.
Advertisers tend to bid for higher or lower CPM rates depending on the time of year. For example, there’s usually a higher level of competition to run ads during the holiday season, so CPMs often fluctuate during this period.
Similarly, if your YouTube channel focuses on a seasonal topic like snowboarding—content that’s more relevant during ski season—CPM rates will be higher during winter because that’s when more advertisers will be willing to pay to promote to your audience.
High competition amongst advertisers and a lack of ad inventory can drive up CPM rates in certain niches. This is why YouTubers in underserved niches with hyper-focused content (e.g. personal finance, retirement) often benefit from higher CPM rates than YouTubers in oversaturated niches with broadly-focused content (e.g. entertainment, comedy, gaming).
Google doesn’t make a habit of releasing CPM rates for each of its categories. But according to VloggerPro, the following niches have the highest CPMs on YouTube:
It’s important to remember that while some YouTubers are willing to reveal their CPMs online, AdSense Terms of Service discourage creators from disclosing this information. Which means that publicly available information on “who’s earning the highest CPM on YouTube” is hard to come by and difficult to verify.
Here are the English-speaking countries with the highest CPM rates in 2019, according to Silver Mouse’s analysis of CPM rates on their own YouTube channel:
Keep in mind, this information is based on one YouTube creator’s analysis only.
And while it’s widely accepted that some countries outperform others on the CPM scale, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your channel’s revenue and ad rates reports to understand which countries are watching your content and driving your YouTube revenue.
Let’s get one thing straight: as a YouTube creator, you cannot increase YouTube’s CPM rates. These are set and calculated by Google and influenced by a variety of factors, many of which we covered above.
You can, however, increase your chances of attracting higher CPM rates and CPM-based revenue with a strategic approach to monetization and content creation.
Monetized your channel? Great. Now go back into YouTube Studio and:
If you’re lucky enough to be in a lucrative niche, then this step won’t be a huge stretch. Just keep creating videos and watch that keep riding that high-CPM wave.
However, if you’re in a category that has lower CPMs, see if you can come up with content ideas that straddle the line between “videos your audience will love” and “content that typically attracts higher CPM rates”.
The only caveat here (and it’s a big caveat) is that you should always put your audience first.
If you’re in the Comedy category on YouTube, don’t start making boring videos on personal finance or digital marketing just to attract a higher CPM.
If a video gets demonetized, that’s less revenue for you. Need we say more?
Optimizing your video metadata (e.g. video titles, video descriptions, and tags) and eye-catching thumbnails won’t improve your channel’s CPMs. But it can drive more views on your channel, which will ultimately have a net-positive impact on your ad-based revenue over time.
While this may sound counterintuitive, taking a “less is more” approach to putting ads in your videos may actually improve your revenue over the long run. So be smart about which types of ads you choose to display on your videos.
If every single one of your videos is jam-packed with ads, you’ll risk losing subscribers and views, which is bad news for your CPM-based ad revenue over time.
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