CPMs, the Achilles heel of many content creators. It’s about as elusive as the feared YouTube algorithm and can be a huge source of financial stress for creators.

If you’re not sure what CPMs are, or need a little refresher, I’ll give you a super speedy overview to our frenemy. CPM stands for “cost per mille”. It’s essentially a fancy term that gives you an idea of how much advertisers are willing to spend on the ads that come up when watching your content. If you want to know more about CPMs, you can read our previous blog post here! If you’re a CPM nerd, there’s also a great deep dive by Looxcie.

But how can I improve my CPM? What are the factors that affect it?! Will AdSense ever make sense?!?! These are all questions I’ll answer in this blog post, and hopefully get your CPM increased 🤞

What affects CPM?

There are countless factors that go into determining your channel’s CPM. The major offenders to watch out for are:

  1. Advertiser-friendly content. If your videos never get monetised, it’s possible your content isn’t suitable for most advertisers. Try censoring swearing or inappropriate language, avoiding sensitive political subjects and making things more family-friendly. It’s a bit of a murky area, so it’s worth playing around and seeing what works best for your content.
  2. Viewer demographic. If your channel has a broad and varied demographic, it may not be suitable for some advertisers. Ultimately, it helps a lot if your video and the ads on it are targeted at the same demographic. So keep an eye on your analytics 👀
  3. Spam. It can be tempting to boost your subscriber or view counts with spam accounts. But advertisers want to meaningfully reach to potential customers, so YouTube will penalise you big time for bots. As a rule, the more bots and fake views to your site, the lower your CPM rates will be.

But there’s one factor that people rarely think of, and it has possibly the biggest impact on your CPM…

Location, Location, Location

Yep, location is a HUGE factor in determining your channel’s CPM. So you probably think, “well that’s it, I’m doomed. I can’t get around location?!“. I’m pleased to tell you that you can (wooo!).

Here’s some of the countries with the highest CPM rate:

  • Canada
  • Austria
  • New Zealand
  • United States
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Australia
  • Switzerland

It’s no surprise that most of these are predominately English-speaking countries. But the German-speaking countries and Japan are big competitors and their CPM rates are worth looking into. So what can you do about it?

Make content in different languages

English-language content often has the highest CPM rates, but also a large variance. We’ve waxed lyrical about how people want to watch video content in their native language. Sure subtitles/CC is good, but going that extra step can help drive new traffic to your channel.

Some areas hugely benefit from secondary languages spoken within their country or their neighbours. For example, an English-language channel based in the US is ignoring the opportunity to access any Spanish speakers from within the US or nearby Central American countries.

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Target these countries

If you can’t access these countries’ CPM honeypot through language, it’s worth mixing up your content. Look at what kind of content does well in these other countries and experiment with your videos.

For example, 59% of Japanese users access the internet via their mobile phones (source). If you wanted to target a Japanese audience, it could be worth considering making more mobile-friendly content!

Branch out

Low CPM rates can be difficult to overcome, even if you’re doing steps 1 and 2. But CPMs aren’t the only way to monetise your YouTube channel. Nowadays, there are huge creators that are consistently demonetised by YouTube because of their channel content, yet their views are through the roof. Their solution? Brand deals! We’ve all seen the collaborations with website software services or VPN providers and they can be a great alternative

Hopefully, that’s cleared up some of your questions about CPMs! Our number one tip is make sure that you are being authentic! It can be tempting to chase the biggest CPM rate, but if your content just doesn’t work with a certain demographic, don’t jump ship just for the AdSense. Above all, viewers and advertisers prefer honest, trustworthy and authentic content and staying true to your passions and interest is a better bet. ‘Til next time 👋