Understand ad revenue analytics

This article is about YouTube Analytics. Learn how to earn money on YouTube.

YouTube Analytics offers a wide range of metrics to measure your channel performance and to see how much money you’re earning on YouTube. Some of these metrics are very similar to one another, but their differences are important for understanding your YouTube ad revenue. Below are some commonly confused metrics, and info on why it's important to know their differences. 


CPM is a metric that represents how much money advertisers are spending to show ads on YouTube. It’s not a measure of how much your videos are earning per thousand views. You’ll see a few different CPM metrics in YouTube Analytics:

  • CPM: The cost an advertiser pays for 1,000 ad impressions. An ad impression is counted anytime an ad is displayed.
  • Playback-based CPM: The cost an advertiser pays for 1,000 video playbacks where an ad is displayed. 

What’s the difference between CPM and playback-based CPM?

Videos on YouTube can have more than one ad. CPM focuses on the advertiser cost for ad impressions. Playback-based CPM focuses on the advertiser cost for video playbacks that include one or more ads. Your playback-based CPM is often higher than your CPM.
For example, say your video is viewed 5,000 times. 1,000 views included one ad and 500 other views included two ads, for a total of 1,500 views with ads. This means there were 2,000 individual ad impressions, but only 1,500 monetized playbacks.
Let’s say the advertiser paid $7 total. The video’s cost per impression would equal the $7 advertiser cost divided by the 2,000 ad impressions, or, $0.0035. The CPM, or cost per thousand impressions, would then equal $0.0035 times 1,000, or, $3.50. The playback-based CPM would equal $7 divided by the 1,500 monetized playbacks, times 1,000, or $4.67.

Why is CPM important?

You get a cut of what advertisers pay when an ad serves on your video. The more an advertiser pays for that ad, the more money you make. Your CPM is a good indicator of how valuable advertisers find your videos and audience for achieving their own business goals.
Your revenue will not be equal to your CPM times your views. This is because CPM reflects what advertisers pay, not what you earn. Also, not all views will have ads. Some videos are ineligible for ads altogether if they aren’t advertiser-friendly. Other video views may not include ads due to lack of available ads at that time. Views that included ads are referred to as monetized playbacks.

Why is my CPM changing?

Fluctuations in your CPM over time are normal, and happen for a variety of reasons, such as:
  • Time of year: Advertisers tend to bid higher or lower depending on the time of year. For instance, many advertisers bid higher just before holidays.
  • Changes in viewer geography: Advertisers can control which countries/regions they’d like to reach with their ads. Different locations will have different levels of competition in the ad market, so CPMs will vary by country. If there’s a shift in where most of your views are coming from, you may see a shift in CPM. For instance, if you previously had views from a country with higher CPMs, but are now getting more views from countries with lower CPMs, you may see a decrease in your CPM.
  • Shifts in distribution of available ad formats: Different ad types tend to have different CPMs. If, for instance, there are more available non-skippable ads in the ad inventory, CPM might be higher.

Estimated revenue vs. ad revenue 

  • Estimated revenue: Revenue from all revenue types. You’ll see this metric on the Revenue tab.
  • Estimated ad revenue: Revenue just from ads on your videos. You’ll see this metric in the revenue sources report.

The key metrics card on the Revenue tab shows your estimated revenue, estimated monetized playbacks, and playback-based CPM. Estimated monetized playbacks and playback-based CPM are just about ad revenue. This means the estimated revenue may be higher than your ad revenue, due to revenue from other sources. Other revenue sources include channel memberships, YouTube Premium revenue, merch, and Super Chat. Check your estimated ad revenue to see how much money you’re earning from ads alone.

 Views, ad impressions, & estimated monetized playbacks

  • Views: The number of times your video was watched.
  • Ad impressions: The number of times individual ads were viewed on your videos.
  • Estimated monetized playbacks: The number of times your video was watched with ads.

If your video is viewed 10 times, and 8 of those views contained ads, you would have 10 views and 8 estimated monetized playbacks. If one of those estimated monetized playbacks actually had 2 ads, you would have 9 ad impressions.

Not all views on YouTube have an ad. A view may not have an ad if:

  • The video is not advertiser-friendly.
  • Ads or individual ad formats are turned off for that video.
  • There isn’t an ad available to show to that particular viewer at that time. Advertisers can choose to target specific devices, demographics, and interests. Your viewer may not match this targeting. Learn more about available targeting methods for video ads.
  • A range of other factors, including the viewer’s country, how recently they’ve seen an ad, whether they have a Premium subscription, etc.

Because of this, you’ll likely have more views than estimated monetized playbacks.

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