Do Other People’s YouTube CPMs Look This Good?

Hank Green on Oct 5

There has traditionally been a taboo against publicly discussing this stuff, but I think that’s dumb.

I have a very small YouTube network with about 15 channels (mostly owned and operated by our company) and we upload around 3 videos per day. This actually creates enough data points that we can see a pretty good sketch of the growth of YouTube ad rates since we were granted CMS privileges (don’t worry about what that means) back in 2012.

This is our CMS page, it basically just allows us to link a bunch of YouTube channels under one account and gives us the ability to claim content that rips us off. If a company claims to be an MCN, all it means is that they have access to this system.

The TOS of YouTube’s partner program requires that we don’t disclose our CPMs (cost per thousand impressions…the M (because ad agencies) stands for mille). But recently, YouTube added a little checkbox that allows me to see not dollars and cents, but percent growth. Of course, I could have done the math and graphed this myself long ago, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

In any case, I now have a graph I can share with the world, so that people can see a rough state of the YouTube advertising ecosystem (though heavily weighted toward educational content, which makes up about 50% of these impressions.)

Again, this is not growth in revenue, but growth in amount of money paid per ad impression.

People traditionally have not shared this kind of information but I think that sucks. YouTube’s TOS says I can’t show you my actual CPMs, but I can show you how much they’ve increased! At least, I think I can.

The picture is a nice one. From Q1 of 2012 to Q1 of 2014, there’s a roughly 200% increase in ad rates. From February of 2012 to today, a 450% increase. I wish I had data for Christmas 2011, but unfortunately that was lost when we were ported into an MCN-style CMS.

We also see that elections are almost as important to YouTube’s ad ecosystem as Christmas is. That might seem a little odd until you realize that YouTube provides the kind of demographic specificity that makes campaign managers’ keyboards sticky. This is unfortunate because I FREAKING HATE THOSE ADS.

It’s also very clear that the entire ad industry just goes to sleep for a month in January…so if anyone’s looking for some cheap impressions…

I would like to know if anyone else has similar data that they can share. I don’t think there’s any good reason for us to keep this stuff a secret; not from the community and not from each other. Indeed, having a greater understanding of the growth of CPMs is vital to capital investment plans and our relationship with YouTube and other ad sellers. If you’d like to share your data, anonymously or publicly, you can email it to me at I’ll add more to the bottom of this article if I get any.

In any case, it is very good news, and I’d like to send a shout-out to the people at YouTube who have worked to make this graph this shape. Oh, and to the people in the advertising industry who have realized that, if they want to reach anyone under the age of 30, they literally have no other choice.