Average CPM And RPM Advertising Rates By Month

Average CPM and RPM advertising rates by month

Th average CPM and average RPM advertising rates by month changes throughout the year. As a personal finance blogger since 2009, I've been keeping track of the advertising rates for years.

As an online publisher, it's good to understand how advertisers spend their money. You should learn the advertising rates through the year so you can maximize your content production efforts.

Some years will be tougher than others. For example, advertising spend was way down in 2020 due to COVID-19. However, rates are back up in 2021 and businesses are spending big advertising dollars again.

If you run a lifestyle business like me, where I’m focused on spending as much time with my family and trying to maximize ROI, knowing when you’re getting the highest return for your effort is crucial.

We all want to earn more while doing less. In my case, I just really want to do less because I retired from corporate America in 2012 to be more free. To get back into a grinding work routine would be like going in reverse.

What Is The Difference Between CPM And RPM?

Before we dive into the average CPM and RPM rates per month, let's make sure you understand the key fundamentals of each.

CPM stands for Cost Per Thousand Impressions. It's what the advertiser has to spend to advertise on your website.

RPM stands for Revenue Per Thousand Impressions. It's what the website owner earns in advertising revenue from the advertiser.

CPM and RPM, therefore, are the same thing. It just depends on which way you look at it – whether you're paying or earning.

Average CPM/RPM Rate Per Month

Advertisers throughout the entire ad industry tend to hold back on spending at the beginning of the month and quarter. Advertisers then normally spend the most as the month and quarter are coming to an end.

This leads to normal dips and increases in RPM throughout the year. Here's a graph on Monthly Advertiser Spending trends that will help you visualize that a little more. The chart is from AdThrive, one of the largest ad networks today.

Online advertising spend and RPM by month shows December to be highest

As you can see from the chart, the fourth quarter of the year is when advertisers spend the most money.

Specifically, December is the highest advertiser spending month while January is the lowest. December advertising literally looks to be 2X higher than January.

This difference in advertising spend is interesting since traffic is often the highest during the beginning of the year. Think New Year's resolutions to get your finances in order, declutter, lose weight, and making the decision to buy a new home .

During the first quarter of each year, the average CPM/RPMs on AdThrive for financial websites dips into the teens: $15 – $18 RPM.

By the time fourth quarter roles around, the average CPM/RPMs on AdThrive for financial websites rises to $25 – $28 on average.

In other words, RPMs often increase by roughly 50% from 1Q to 4Q.

Between 2Q and 3Q, the average CPM/RPM rates on Adthrive for financial websites hovers around $18 – $25.

The reasoning behind this varies across the board. But the biggest reason for the spending push in Q4 is related to the holidays. The holidays are when consumer spending is at its highest. 

CPM Rates Per Month: Changes Due to Seasonality

Publish More Content In 3Q And 4Q

You might now be thinking, given RPMs and advertising spend increases by 50% or more from 1Q to 4Q, shouldn't I spend the least amount of time publishing content in 1Q? Conversely, should I spend the most amount of time publishing content in 4Q?

Although a logical conclusion, this would only make sense if you plan to run your website for only one year.

Your goal as an online media owner is to run your website forever given it's a high margin business. Over time, your online business will gain momentum the longer you are around due to increased reputation and credibility.

It's also tough to know when content will be popular due to search engine algorithms and social media. For example, something you write in January may not garner much interest throughout the year. Then it might really take off in Q4.

For example, a post I wrote entitled, Scraping By On $500,000 A Year, was picked up on Twitter and became a Twitter moment with tens of thousands of retweets a year later.

Financial Samurai Trending On Twitter

On the other hand, you may push a bunch of content out during the holidays only to have it finally see traffic around Q1-2. 

The general advice is to keep producing content year around, no matter what. But that's not very helpful. That's like saying, “Do your best, no matter what!”

Maximize Your RPM And Return On Effort

If you want to maximize your Return On Effort, then you should consider publishing more content and increasing your marketing efforts in Q3 and Q4.

You will earn a higher RPM in Q4 than any other time of the year.

The content you publish in Q3 and Q4 won't guarantee traffic success in Q3 and Q4, but it will certainly increase your chances. Think about publishing content in Q3 as having a slingshot affect into Q4.

If you want to start a money-making blog, here's my step-by-step tutorial on how to do so.

Also, owning an online business is more valuable than ever because it can't be shut down! We've learned post COVID-19 that other businesses are at risk of forced closure.

Further Reading

Here are some additional articles for further reading to enjoy.

About the Author: Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 as a way to make sense of the financial crisis. He proceeded to spend the next 13 years after attending The College of William & Mary and UC Berkeley for b-school. Then he worked at Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. He owns properties in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and Honolulu and has a total of $810,000 invested in real estate crowdfunding. Financial Samurai generates over 1.5 million organic pageviews a month.