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CPM vs CPC Display Ads: Which Pays Bloggers More?

cpm vs cpc display ads

Two of the most common payment models + metrics in online publishing are CPM + CPC. In this article, we’ll introduce both and discuss the CPM vs CPC ad models so bloggers can understand which is best for their website.


What is CPM?

CPM, or Cost Per Mille, is a common pricing model in digital advertising and blogging. It refers to the cost an advertiser pays for one thousand impressions of their ad. In simple terms, CPM measures the cost of reaching a thousand potential viewers of an advertisement.

For bloggers, CPM can be a key metric in understanding how much revenue they can generate from displaying ads on their website. Bloggers are paid a certain amount for every thousand times an ad is displayed on their site, regardless of whether the ad is clicked on or not. This can be a more passive way of earning revenue compared to CPC (Cost Per Click) ads, where bloggers only earn when a visitor clicks on the ad.

Understanding CPM is crucial for bloggers looking to monetize their content effectively. By optimizing their website for higher CPM rates, bloggers can increase their earnings without necessarily increasing their website traffic. This makes CPM a valuable metric for bloggers to consider when choosing ad networks and strategies to maximize their revenue potential.

How to Calculate CPM?

The CPM calculation is:

Total campaign spend ÷ Number of impressions × 1,000

For example, lets say you have $1,000 to spend on a campaign with 100,000 impressions. In this scenario, your CPM would be $10.

What is CPC?

CPC, or Cost Per Click, is another common pricing model in digital advertising and blogging. It refers to the cost an advertiser pays each time a user clicks on their ad. Unlike CPM, where payment is based on ad impressions, CPC requires action from the viewer for the blogger to earn revenue.

For bloggers, CPC can be a more engaging way to earn money as it incentivizes creating compelling ad content that encourages clicks. However, it also means that bloggers need to focus on driving traffic and optimizing their ad placements to increase the likelihood of clicks.

Understanding CPC is essential for bloggers who want to diversify their revenue streams and explore different monetization strategies. By incorporating CPC ads alongside CPM ads, bloggers can maximize their earnings potential by catering to both passive and active forms of advertising revenue.

In the ongoing debate of “cpm vs cpc,” bloggers must weigh the benefits of each model based on their content, audience, and advertising goals to determine the most profitable approach for their blogging endeavors.

How to Calculate CPC?

The CPC calculation is:

CPC = Cost / Clicks

Again using the same scenario. You spend $1,000 on your campaign which results in 50 clicks. In this scenario, the resulting CPC is $20.

CPM vs CPC Comparison

When comparing CPM vs CPC display ads, it’s essential to understand the fundamental differences between the two pricing models.

CPM, or Cost Per Mille, is a model where advertisers pay a set rate for every 1,000 impressions of their ad, regardless of whether users interact with it. On the other hand, CPC, or Cost Per Click, requires advertisers to pay each time a user clicks on their ad.

The key distinction lies in the payment structure: CPM focuses on impressions, while CPC is centered around user engagement. Bloggers opting for CPM ads earn revenue based on the number of times the ad is displayed, providing a more passive income stream. In contrast, CPC ads incentivize bloggers to create engaging content that drives clicks, offering a more active revenue generation approach.

By understanding the differences between CPM and CPC, bloggers can strategically choose the pricing model that aligns best with their content strategy, audience engagement levels, and revenue goals. Balancing both CPM and CPC ads can help bloggers optimize their earnings by catering to different advertiser preferences and maximizing revenue potential.

Why Did AdSense Change from CPC to CPM?

AdSense made the change from CPC to CPM in 2024, marking a significant shift in its advertising model. This change impacted publishers by altering how they are paid for displaying ads on their websites. With the transition to CPM, publishers now earn revenue based on the number of impressions their ads receive, rather than solely on clicks generated by users.

This shift to CPM has both pros and cons for publishers. On the positive side, CPM ads offer a more stable and predictable income stream, as publishers earn revenue for every 1,000 ad impressions, regardless of user interactions. This can be particularly beneficial for websites with high traffic volumes but lower click-through rates.

However, the move to CPM also means that publishers need to focus on optimizing their ad placements and targeting to maximize impressions and overall revenue. While CPM ads may provide a more passive income stream, publishers must ensure that their content attracts enough views to generate significant ad impressions and revenue.

Overall, the switch from CPC to CPM by AdSense has reshaped how publishers monetize their websites, emphasizing the importance of audience reach and engagement to drive ad revenue.

Which Ad Networks are Best for High CPMs?

When looking for ad networks that offer high CPMs, it’s essential to consider platforms that cater to your specific niche and audience demographics. A few of the top ad networks known for providing competitive CPM rates are Mediavine, Raptive and Ezoic. Also known as the Big Three in blogger groups, these are all a popular choice among bloggers and website owners due to their vast network of advertisers and advanced targeting options, which can lead to higher CPMs.

Check out our curated list of 10 highest paying CPM ad networks.

By partnering with these top ad networks and optimizing your ad placements and targeting strategies, you can maximize your chances of earning high CPMs and boosting your overall ad revenue.

A New Future: Optimizing Toward Session Revenue

Transitioning from traditional CPM vs CPC models, publishers are now focusing on session revenue metrics like session RPM and EPMV. These metrics offer a more comprehensive view of revenue generation, taking into account user engagement and overall site performance. By optimizing towards session revenue, publishers can better understand the value each user brings to their platform, leading to more informed monetization strategies.

Session RPM, which calculates revenue per thousand sessions, provides insights into how effectively a publisher is monetizing their website traffic. On the other hand, EPMV (Earnings Per Thousand Visitors) factors in both revenue and user engagement, offering a more holistic approach to revenue optimization. By analyzing these metrics, publishers can identify opportunities to enhance user experience, drive higher engagement, and ultimately increase revenue.

Optimizing towards session revenue allows publishers to move beyond the limitations of CPM and CPC models, focusing on the quality of user interactions and content consumption. This shift towards more sophisticated metrics aligns with the evolving landscape of digital advertising, where user experience and engagement play a crucial role in driving sustainable revenue growth.


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