It’s no secret that it’s hard for YouTube creators to generate meaningful revenue if they rely solely on YouTube advertising. The site takes a 45% cut of all pre-roll revenue, and if affiliated with a network, the MCN takes a bit more.
And that’s not even considering that YouTube has long been criticized for having lower CPM (cost per thousand impression) rates than other video sites — largely due to the mountains of user-generated (and therefore, “non-premium”) content available on the site.
It might still be difficult to make a lot of money only via YouTube ads, but CPMs might not be as much of an issue in the near future — that is, if a graph on CPM rate growth published by Vlogbrother and VidCon co-founder Hank Green is emblematic of a larger trend on the video site.
Green’s graph shows that CPMs for his mini-network of YouTube channels (15) have grown 450% since February 2012.
Not only does the graph show an overall trend of growth in ad rates for Green’s MCN, which features channels like SciShow, The Brain Scoop, Crash Course, and, of course, Vlogbrothers, but it also shows when rates picked up.
As it turns out, holiday times, US elections, and midterm season means spikes on Green’s graph. Green points out that his content is largely more “educational” than that of the average YouTube MCN (at around 50% of impressions), perhaps explaining the spike in ad rates during the midterm season.
It also suggests that Green’s data should not be taken as a universal representation of the state of ad spending on YouTube. Though it shouldn’t come as a surprise if other top YouTube creators and networks — regardless of content type — are also witnessing similar growth.
In his blog post, Green asks other creators to share their numbers to see if there is any alignment with what his channels are witnessing: “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.”
On Green’s network, Vlogbrothers ranks as the most popular channel, while YouTube is featuring SciShow in their latest multimedia advertising campaign, offering the potential for even higher ad rates for Green.