“It depends” is possibly the most annoying answer to any question. Yet when you ask about almost anything to do with online advertising, it’s usually the only answer you’ll get.
Enough already. Sure it does depend, of course it does. Every website is different, industries work differently, and countries are not uniform.
However, that does not mean there are *no* useful answers to be had, and this is a problem that we at The Online Advertising Guide have decided to solve. We’re going to start providing the simplest answers we can to questions where there are no simple answers. They may not be the most useful things in the world, but they will definitely be more useful than “it depends”.
So, to start with a big question – how much money can your website make from advertising?
Well, the truth is… it depends! But ignoring that for the moment – the rough overall answer seems to be just above $10 Page RPM. I’ve suspected this for a while, as I did some informal research years ago (by which I mean that I intensively Googled the question and read every forum post I could find) and $10 per 1,000 page views was the most common answer that came up (as well as the approximate median answer).
We have now however completed our first round of research on the subject, which seems to suggest the same. We ran a Twitter poll in February 2020 asking the question: “Website Owners: What Page RPM did you earn from running ads on your website in January (in USD)?”
We received 4,651 votes, with the headlines of the results coming in as:
- Over third of websites are receiving under $5 per 1,000 page views
- Over half of websites are receiving under $10 Page RPM
- 75% of websites earn under $15 from ads per 1,000 page views
Or to put it more positively
- A quarter of websites are earning over $15 Page RPM from running ads on their site
- Almost half of websites earn over $10 per thousand page views
- 40% of websites earn between $5-$15 Page RPM
Now, these results aren’t completely definitive of course. It’s one unscientific poll, taken at one point in time, adjusting for no factors at all. They are however very useful if you want to know roughly how you are doing.
Website Owners: What Page RPM did you earn from running ads on your website in January (in USD)?
— Ad Guider (@adguider) February 13, 2020
Wait, what is Page RPM?
For context – Page RPM is the amount of money a website makes per 1,000 page views. Many people still count their ad revenue in CPM – but that is actually not how websites are paid, and CPMs and RPMs aren’t exactly the same. This is because CPMs are how much the advertiser pays, while RPMs are what is left for websites once everyone has had their cut:
Just to make it more confusing, there are also Impression RPMs as well as Page RPMs. An Impression RPM is how much a website gets paid per 1,000 ad impressions, whereas Page RPM is how much a website gets paid per 1,000 page views. I personally much prefer Page RPM as a measure, as the number of ad impressions a site serves is a side effect of how many page views it gets.
Anyway, if you want to calculate your RPM then you can use this free RPM calculator.
We will be doing more research on this subject so we can bring you better and more helpful answers in the future. For now though – these are reasonable benchmarks. If you’re earning over $10 then you are doing better than average. As always, the key is to benchmark against your own past results and try to improve. For context, however, these results should help.
Before I go I’d like to add one thing – I am shocked at how many websites are earning such ridiculously low RPMs. Under $5 is simply not enough. Is it to do with location or industry? Is it to do with bad websites getting paid poorly? Or is it to do with certain ad networks paying poorly? Whichever the answer, this needs further examination.