Reach to grab revenue

RPM vs CPM, Key Metrics for Ad Publishers

In the vast realm of digital advertising, two critical terms often puzzle publishers: RPM and CPM. If you’ve ever scratched your head while checking your AdSense earnings, and wondering which metric to focus on, you’re not alone. In this article, we will break down the differences between RPM and CPM, providing you with clear insights to help boost your ad revenue.

What is CPM?

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CPM, which stands for “Cost Per Mille” or “Cost Per Thousand Impressions,” is a term frequently used by digital advertisers and marketers. It serves as a measure of how much an advertiser pays for every one thousand impressions of their ad. Unlike CPC (Cost Per Click) ads where publishers earn money when users click on an ad, CPM focuses on impressions.

The CPM Formula

To calculate CPM, use this simple formula:

CPM = (Cost of the campaign / Number of impressions) * 1000

Let’s simplify it with an illustration: Let’s say an advertiser spends $4,000 on a CPM campaign that results in 4 million impressions overall. Apply the following equation to determine the CPM: (4000/4,000,000) * 1000 = $1 CPM. Accordingly, the advertiser will provide the publisher $1 for every 1,000 impressions.

What is RPM?

Revenue per Mille, or RPM, represents the estimated earnings for publishers based on the number of page views they receive. RPM serves as a metric on the publisher’s side, providing a general idea of earnings. Keep in mind that the actual earnings can fluctuate, sometimes exceeding or falling short of the estimated RPM.

The RPM Formula

To calculate RPM, use this straightforward formula:

RPM = (Estimated earning / Number of pageviews) * 1000

Here’s an example to illustrate: Suppose a publisher anticipates earnings of approximately $600 from 600,000 pageviews. Calculate the RPM as follows:

(600 / 600,000) * 1000 = $1 RPM

This indicates that the publisher can expect to earn around $1 for every one thousand page views.

What are the Confusion About RPM vs CPM?

  • Advertiser vs. Publisher Metrics

One of the primary sources of confusion is that CPM is an advertiser-side metric, while RPM is a publisher-side metric. Google AdSense, for instance, uses RPM to inform publishers about their earnings even though they display CPM-based ads. This discrepancy often perplexes publishers.

  • RPM vs. CPM Disparity

Another factor contributing to confusion is that RPM tends to be higher than CPM. The reason behind this disparity lies in how these metrics are calculated. RPM considers the cost based on pageviews and the number of ad units on a web page, while CPM calculates the cost based on the number of impressions per ad unit.

Imagine a user visits a webpage containing four ad units, but only three of them serve impressions as the user scrolls down. In this case, CPM would be based on the three ad units that received impressions, while RPM would consider all four ad units. This gap between CPM and RPM becomes more significant when publishers deal with 100,000 or more impressions each month.

As a result, publishers often observe a substantial difference between CPM and RPM, leading to concerns about their business practices. However, if you’re implementing effective strategies to increase RPM, there’s no need to worry.

Which Should You Use to Analyze Earnings?

The Choice is Yours

Google AdSense primarily showcases earnings through RPM, while most other ad networks lean towards CPM to inform publishers. However, it’s crucial to understand that neither CPM nor RPM provides precise figures. These metrics are based on estimates, and actual earnings may vary.

The RPM Perspective

RPM is a valuable metric for tracking your earnings and setting goals. Nevertheless, focusing solely on RPM can have adverse consequences. Some publishers might add an excessive number of ad units per page to inflate RPM, but this can harm the user experience and lead to higher bounce rates. Overloading your site with ads can also negatively impact viewability.

The CPM Perspective

A high CPM correlates with high-quality content and a better viewability score. Additionally, CPM depends on the advertiser’s budget and requirements. If your inventory aligns with an advertiser’s needs, they are more likely to invest more in your ad space. By striving to boost CPM, publishers aim to enhance the earnings of each ad unit on their pages. This encourages publishers to maintain a balance between content and ads, ultimately delivering better-performing ads.


In conclusion, while CPM reveals how much an advertiser pays on an ad campaign, RPM is a number used by publishers to evaluate their earnings. Precise measures are difficult because publisher earnings change for a variety of reasons. A website’s overall user experience, user behavior, and time spent on a particular page all affect ad revenue. No matter which statistic you choose to use—RPM or CPM—keep in mind that your earnings ultimately depend on how many impressions you get.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. Which One is More Important for Publishers, RPM or CPM?

A: For ad publishers, RPM and CPM are both crucial metrics. While CPM determines expenses based on the number of impressions per ad unit, RPM evaluates costs based on pageviews and the number of ad units. Both metrics give you important information about your ad revenue.

Q2. How to Calculate CPM?

A: Divide the total revenue produced by a certain number of page visits by 1000 to determine CPM. For instance, if 40-page visits result in $0.05 from 5 ad units, the CPM would be computed as follows: CPM = ($0.05 / 40) * 1000 = $1.25.

Q3. How to Calculate RPM?

A: Divide the expected revenue by the total pageviews, then multiply the result by 1000 to get RPM. For instance, the RPM calculation would be RPM = ($0.35 / 40) * 1000 = $8.75 if you expected earnings of $0.35 from 40-page visits with 5 ad units.