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YouTube CPM: 5 Factors That Effect It

Photo by Sara Kurfeß

There is a false perception that people on Google’s YouTube platform are making boatloads of money. For some this is true. According to Forbes, the top 10 highest-paid YouTubers in 2019 shared a pot worth an estimated $162 million. Which is a ton of money for those lucky individuals. Which points to another reason to watch your YouTube CPM!

Yes, that is a lot of money but it is not the norm. When you factor in the time, the team, the technology, fan donations, and merchandise sold, you’ll realize how much work goes into building a money-making channel.

Next, you have to figure out the Cost Per Thousand views YouTube model people go by when estimating earnings potential.

Even this model is flawed because there are so many other factors that go into what channels are actually earning

The reality is a large percent of YouTube creators will never be able to quit their day job and live off of the money they earn. As a matter of fact, in February of 2018 YouTube enacted new rules that made it more difficult for people to become a part of their Partner Program (YPP).

Are you thinking about starting a YouTube channel or are you a creator at your performance? Keep reading for five things you can do to increase your earnings.

What is Cost Per Thousands Views YouTube Uses?

To begin to pull back the layers of YouTube’s Cost Per Thousand pay scale, we first need to understand what it is. Cost Per Thousand is also known as Cost Per Mille. It is the rate that an advertiser is charged per 1,000 impressions.

When you think about YouTube, advertisers are paying to have ads run on video content that is created by YouTubers. Advertisers do not always know where their ads will end up. A channel that received one million views per video, will provide an advertiser a greater return on investment.

However, a channel that only averages 100 views, may not be as advantageous.

The first thing YouTube creators need to understand is that YouTube is working to appease advertisers, not make you rich. You will have to put in the work to produce a quality product. The more viewers you attract the more likely you will earn more revenue.

YouTube Analytics

To get an understanding of how your channel is doing you’ll need to follow your analytics data provided by YouTube. In 2019 they rolled out the new YouTube Studio which will soon completely eliminate their classic studio.

Everything you need to know about your channel is located there. They provide real-time data that include:

  • Money earned
  • Views
  • Subscribers
  • Comments
  • Monetization
  • Copyright claims
  • and More

If you are going to be serious YouTuber familiarize yourself with this information because it ties into the money your channel is earning.

Reading Your AdSense Reports

Rule number one for creators, YouTube takes 45% off all ad revenue you earn. If you are okay with this, you’ll need to create an AdSense account and connect it to your YouTube channel. All payments for ad revenue through Google are paid through AdSense which is a product in the Google suite offerings.

In your AdSense account, you will have access to various information and stats. Some of the information is also found in your YouTube Studio, but some people feel is clearer and easily accessible in AdSense.

One thing you will find is your page’s revenue per thousand impressions (RPM). Every channel has it but not every RPM is the same. Yours can fluctuate up or down by the day, week, or month.

Your RPM gives you a good idea of how your channel is performing and allows you to make adjustments. Therefore, if a channel earns $0.15 from 50 page views, the page’s RPM would equal ($0.15 / 50) * 1000, or $3.00.

Your AdSense reports will also show:

  • Pageviews
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Impression RPM
  • Active View

You can request information by the day, week, or month. Now that we have the housekeeping out of the way let’s look at what directly impacts your channel’s ability to make money.

1. Understanding User Engagement

When you decide to become a content creator on YouTube, you need to have an idea of what the channel will be about. You also need to know what audience you are targeting. The worst thing you can do is start a channel without a plan.

By not having a general idea of what you will talk about makes it easier to become discouraged and quit. Some people believe they have to have the next great idea. Let’s face it, there is nothing new under the sun.

With millions of YouTube channels on the platform, the best you can do is provide quality content that people want to watch. The more viewers you have the more opportunities you create for advertisers to have their ads seen.

Ad Engagement

Once you create your content and people are clicking on your videos, it’s pretty much out of your hands.

NEWSFLASH: An ad running on your video does not equate to ad revenue. You only earn revenue if the person engages with the ad.

How do they do that? They can resist the urge to click on the bottom that allows them to bypass the ad. The longer the video is viewed the better off you will be. The other way is for the person to actually click on the ad and visit the advertiser’s website.

For example, Trueview ads pay when someone watches the ad for 30 seconds or more.

2. When Are Advertisers Buying Ad Space

YouTube has advertisers across the spectrum. If you can get an ad for the hottest movie of the summer, it’s great. It also is okay if the ads you generate are from marketing influencers.

What you need to be mindful of is when are advertisers buying ads. The blockbuster movie is a good example. The holidays is another.  All seasons and topics can have a wildly different YouTube CPM depending on the desired targeting and run dates.

The reason a YouTube creator wants to explore when advertisers are buying in large bulk is so you can boost the number of videos you are producing. It is also a time to do more live videos which increase the chances of ads running at the start of the stream.

3. Understand Algorithms

Algorithms can make or break your channel. Knowing when to post content to take advantage of algorithms is also important. Capitalizing on breaking news can grab the attention of YouTube.

If suddenly thousands of people are searching for a particular topic, YouTube will start recommending referral traffic to videos.

Get your video out quickly and then create additional videos to follow-up on the subjects as more information come available. This will get you more views.

4. Advertiser-Friending Content

Not every video is eligible to earn revenue and some videos may get flagged as not being advertiser-friendly. When this happens, a creator can appeal the decision to YouTube and request a manual review. The reviewer can either agree with the system’s assessment or it can overrule it and return the video to full monetization.

YouTube has guidelines for channels to follow that outline what topics can be seen as unfriendly to some advertisers. Unless the content is truly egregious, it is unlikely that advertisers are telling YouTube to pull their advertising from a video.

Instead, YouTube uses bots to search for certain words, keywords, or topics.

To avoid having your video go from a green $ sign to a yellow one, play it safe and avoid controversial topics that have to do with race, gender, nationalities, politics, sex, children, use of profanity and hate speech.

Since there is no true rhyme or reason behind which videos get flagged and which ones do not, as a rule, try not to produce offensive content.  Not only will it decrease your earnings it could also decrease your views.

5. YouTube Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is important for any form of content creation. These are the techniques that you incorporate in your campaigns to get noticed by Google’s search engines.

It is easy to get stuck on the notion that search engines only apply to websites. A search engine is an application on a website or platform that allows you to enter keywords and return results.

YouTube has its own search engine to help users find videos. Therefore, it is important that you use SEO to help your videos and your channel get noticed.

One of the many tools that YouTube offers its creators include:

  • Keywords
  • Playlists
  • Titles
  • Descriptions
  • Video analytics

If a creator is making a video about Search Engine Optimization, they should use the words in the video title. For example, “Why is Search Engine Optimization Important for YouTube Videos.” This makes it clear what the video is about.

In the description give more detail about the video. Once you get to your keywords, you can create about 15, but you really don’t need that many. Try “SEO for YouTube”, “YouTube Marketing”, YouTube SEO”. Also, write out all three words.

Playlists haven’t really proven to be effective in getting videos into search results. What they do is if someone is looking for videos on a certain topic, your playlists can appear in the results. This is good because if selected the user will be exposed to more of your videos.

Boost Your Earnings with Other Streams of Revenue

Understanding that ad revenue is really not in your control will help you see your potential to earn differently. Not only do you not have control over when ads appear on your videos, but you also have no control over the viewer’s engagement.

YouTube understands this and has created opportunities for creators to earn money outside of ad revenue. Before you get too excited, they will get a cut from some of them. Worrying about a higher YouTube CPM isn’t always the biggest issue when it comes to this platform.


Once you reach 10,000 subscribers, creators can offer branded merchandise from designated distributors YouTube has partnered with. These partnerships allow creators to offer their subscribers T-shirts, mugs, and other items with imprints of the brand’s logo or channel name.

There is a display bar you embed under each video. Remind viewers the merchandise is available and they can place an order. The best part of the set-up is the creator is not responsible for housing or shipping the items.


SuperChat is a fairly new feature that is offered on live streams and the premiere offering. Premiere videos are pre-recorded videos the creator uploads and then schedules to run like a live stream. The two are similar in that there is a live chat available to viewers.

Where SuperChats comes into play on these videos is that the viewer can send money to the YouTuber using the app. By doing so, their message is highlighted in color and stands out from all the other messages in the chat. This is useful on videos where 100s of people are in the chat.

In recent months YouTube rolled out a new addition that allows users to send graphics in their SuperChat messages. SuperChats don’t cost the YouTuber anything unless you count the 30% handling fee YouTube deducts for the transaction.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is when a brand or website pays you whenever someone clicks on a link with your code. To make affiliate marketing work on your YouTube channel, incorporate ads or talk about the product within your content. Direct the viewers to click on the link in the description to buy or learn more.


Any money you earn on YouTube isn’t paid until the 20th of the following month. For example, monies earned January 1st through 31st will not pay until February 20th, and only if you have reached the minimum threshold of $100.00.

Creators can incorporate links to have money sent through PayPal or CashApp accounts and direct viewers that want to support the channel to donate there.

Are You Ready to Start Clocking Dollars?

Now that you better understand the Cost Per Thousand views YouTube model, you can put your channel in the position to earn more money. Your time is valuable and you shouldn’t be giving it away.

If you are looking for assistance with YouTube SEO Marketing, we have you covered. Click here to learn more or give us a call at 833-Media Shark for a free consultation.

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