Last night, noted YouTube creator and industry thought leader Hank Green put out the call for fellow creators to publicly share their CPMs — a typically-closely-held figure that refers to the dollar amount marketers pay per 1,000 clicks of an ad. The key figure varies from channel to channel, but provides a critical window into YouTube monetization prospects.
Given his longstanding call for greater transparency around the influencer economy — in a bid to help creators advocate for their rightful share amid unfair treatment by advertisers and platforms — Green presumably made the ask on Twitter in a bid to help creators paint a better picture for one another about how they are faring through the coronavirus pandemic. And indeed, creators responded to his call in droves, with top stars like beauty guru James Charles (18 million subscribers) and Minecraft creator Jordan ‘Captain Sparklez’ Maron (10.7 million subscribers) confirming that their CPMs have plummeted.
For his part, Green says the average CPM across his entire network of channels — including Crash Course (10.6 million subscribers), SciShow (6.2 million subscribers), and SciShow Kids (378,000 subscribers) — is down 28% over the last 28 days, for an average of $4.75. While this is the lowest it’s been since Jan. 2013, Green says, it’s worth noting that the CPM figure alone doesn’t paint the entire picture of YouTube earnings during the pandemic. As Green shares, viewership across his network of channels is up 15% — with viewership skyrocketing for many channels due to worldwide quarantining — which is likely making up for at least some of the lost revenues due to declining ad rates.
YouTubers, please share you CPM! This is our whole network over the last 28 days. Our lowest since January 2013, but I assume we’ve dropped less than many. pic.twitter.com/8WcVyPxSdY
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) April 15, 2020
Charles, for his part, shared that his CPM is down 20%, while Maron noted that his CPM has fallen 42% over the last 30 days — the lowest it’s been in his main channel’s history. Maron also shared that his CPM is down 40% over the same period last year.
While most of the creators who responded to Green’s missive reported double-digit losses, mostly more than 20% in the red, others saw their channels on the up and up — though, for the most part, these appeared to be outliers. For instance, biology and ecology channel Nature League (15,400 subscribers) has seen a CPM increase of 318% to $7.81 over the past six weeks, per host Brit Garner, who added that watch time over the past 28 days has increased by a staggering 400%. “Teachers are sharing our videos like crazy and it’s making me very happy,” she said.
Interestingly enough, @Nature_League has been doing better over the last 6 weeks than in the lifetime of the channel. Here’s the CPM factor, but for the record, my watch time for the last 28 days is up ~400% pic.twitter.com/EdzB5yeHCe
— Brit Garner (@BritGarner) April 15, 2020
London-based book and travel creator Rosianna Rojas (58,300 subscribers) disclosed that her CPMs are up 26% to $4.50, though likely because she has started uploading again after taking time away from the platform in recent months. And music tutorial channel The Flute Channel (89,400 subscribers) also posted a formidable 44% increase, to the tune of a $6.84 CPM.
However, in total, the Green-initiated thread would seem to indicate that CPMs are in an increased decline roughly a month after the pandemic began to impact the United Sates in full, and as economic fallout continues to compound. Earlier this month, we spoke to industry experts who said that CPMs were starting to drop — though more in the 15% range — with execs attributing the decline to advertiser pullout and also skyrocketing viewership, resulting in increased ad inventory (and thus lower prices) given YouTube’s auction-based system. Additionally, execs told Tubefilter that a large share of YouTube advertisers are small business owners, who are bound to pull their ad spend as an initial cost-saving measure after their companies start to feel the pinch.
mine is down 20% 🙄
— James Charles (@jamescharles) April 16, 2020
I’m at the lowest in history for my main channel, down 42% vs previous 30 days, down 40% vs same time period 2019.
— Jardon Maroon (@CaptainSparklez) April 15, 2020
Given these fluctuations, Green notes that creators will likely come to rely more and more on other revenue streams going forward, including YouTube Premium subscriptions and, to a greater extent, Patreon. Green says that YouTube Premium — which costs $12 per month — currently represents 13% of his YouTube channel network revenue — a slight increase over the 11% that it has contributed in months’ past. (Though it does not disclose exact figures, YouTube says that the majority of Premium earnings are dispersed to creators based on how many Premium subscribers are viewing their content).
You can check out the full list of creators who responded to Green’s call below:
- Science channel Real Engineering (2.3 million subscribers): 4.36 euros, 23% decrease
- Gamer Austin Hargrave, better known as PeanutButterGamer (2 M subscribers): $5.07, 30% decrease
- Film criticism channel Cinema Wins (1.5 million subscribers): $5.25, 29% decrease
- Gaming channel KreekCraft (1 million subscribers): $3.22, 31% decrease
- Pokemon creator M And J TV (1 million subscribers): $5.57, 27% decrease
- Musician David Choi (966,000 subscribers): $4.50, 21% decrease
- Comedy creator and prankster Twomad (960,000 subscribers): $3.40, 8% decrease
- Law-focused Legal Eagle (892,000 subscribers): $5.08, 31% decrease
- Pokemon-focused channel Lockstin & Gnoggin (844,000 subscribers): $4.80, 40% decrease
- Tech channel Technology Connections (659,000 subscribers): $5.26, 21% decrease
- Author/vlogger Melanie Murphy (650,000 subscribers): 4.06 euros, 23% decrease
- Writing channel Hello Future Me (591,000 subscribers): $5.74, 31% decrease
- 3D printer reviews and tips channel 3D Printing Nerd (389,000 subscribers): $10.12, 3% decrease
- Gamer ScrapMan (369,000 subscribers): $6.12, 38% decrease
- Review and commentary channel Quinton Reviews (334,000 subscribers): $5.98, 34% decrease
- Animation channel Worthikids (222,000 subscribers): $2.90, 34% decrease
- City planning-focused YouTube channel City Beautiful (217,000 subscribers): $4.97, 24% decrease
- Anime analyst Explanation Point (164,000 subscribers): $3.13, 26% decrease
- Video game history channel Thomas Game Docs (147,000 subscribers): $3.49, 29% decrease
- Medically-inclined channel Medlife Crisis (139,000 subscribers): 5.04 pounds, 2% increase
- Cosplayer and singer Ginny Di (132,000 subscribers): $5.25, 31% decrease
- Writer and LGBTQ+ activist Jackson Bird (72,700 subscribers): $5.14, 27% decrease
- Esports host Excoundrel (64,200 subscribers): $8.28, 14% decrease
- Tech review channel GeekAWhat (57,100 subscribers): $7.16, 20% decrease
- Judaism and Israel-themed channel Unpacked Media (28,800 subscribers): $5.32, 14% decrease
- Daily vlogger Michael Aranda (25,600 subscribers): $6.39, 30% decrease
- Tech channel FutureNow (13,400 subscribers): $7.39, 15% decrease
- Gamer Demonac (9,500 subscribers): $4.49, 11% decrease