Page RPM is one of the few metrics that give you a true understanding of website revenue performance. OKO Deep Dives drill deep into a single metric to help publishers use it most effectively. In this Deep Dive, we’ll look at Page RPM in both AdSense and a more complex ad setup and talk about how publishers can use this powerful metric as a yardstick for performance optimisation.
What is Page RPM & why is it useful?
Page RPM tells publishers how much revenue is being generated for each page that is viewed on their website. This focus on page-level performance means that Page RPM can be used as a guide for broader optimisations, such as page layouts, number of units per page, the impacts of lazy loading, etc in a way that ad unit-level metrics, like Ad Request RPM or Impression RPM, can’t.
If a pageview is counted correctly, i.e. each time a page is loaded or reloaded in a browser, then Page RPM gives us a true insight into the value of user attention on our websites. As with other metrics, RPM is an initialism for Revenue Per Mille, with ‘mille’ meaning one thousand. Therefore, Page RPM is a measure used to estimate how much revenue is generated by a site per thousand pageviews.
Page RPM formula
To calculate Page RPM, you need to know total earnings and total number of pageviews. Total estimated ad revenue must be divided by total number of pageviews and then the answer must be multiplied by 1000:
Page RPM = (Estimated Earnings / No. of Pageviews) * 1000
So for example, if you received 2000 pageviews and earned $30 in ad revenue, your Page RPM would be $15:
($30 / 2000) x 1000 = $15.
Where to find Page RPM in AdSense
To find Page RPM in AdSense simply navigate to the ‘Report’ tab, and this metric should be shown by default as part of the overview. AdSense Page RPM is useful because it is so easy to find that metric and allows a like for like comparison on page performance, but it is not true Page RPM.
Because AdSense only counts a pageview when the AdSense code fires, AdSense is not calculating average RPM across all pages. If the code is omitted, conflicts with other code, or is blocked by ad blocking software that pageview isn’t included in the calculation. This doesn’t make AdSense Page RPM worthless, but it does mean that it is not suited to some uses, such as monitoring overall performance of a site.
A common mistake is to compare AdSense performance with alternative monetisation strategies using AdSense Page RPM vs the true Page RPM of the alternatives. This can lead to wildly inaccurate comparisons and it is important to make such comparisons using the True Page RPM of both.
True Page RPM in Google Ad Manager and AdSense
Calculating True Page RPM is simple, no matter what monetisation method you are using. Simply divide total revenue for a period by the total number of pageviews in the same period then multiple by 1000. The same pageview number should be used for both calculations if making a comparison and pageviews from Google analytics is ideal for this.
How to increase Page RPM
To increase your Page RPM you have to either serve more impressions per pageview or increase how much you are paid per impression. Ideally both.
Page RPM = Impressions per page * Impression RPM
Increasing the number of impressions you serve per pageview might be as simple as adding an additional ad unit to pages, but this is not the only option. You can also increase impressions per page through approaches such as:
- Improving page speed
- Reducing ad blocker usage
- Driving users towards more ad-rich parts of the site
- Using smart-refresh strategies
Increasing Impression RPM can take longer to have an impact than increasing the number of impressions served per pageview, but ultimately can have greater impact. Doing this boils down to three things:
- Making your inventory more valuable to advertisers (more)
- Exposing your inventory to more interested buyers (This can be achieved through Open Bidding or Header Bidding).
- Running a more efficient auction (This can be achieved through Open Bidding or Header Bidding).
Why you shouldn’t trust Page RPM in isolation
Like most metrics in ad monetization, Page RPM is useful but can be misleading. One sure-fire way to increase your Page RPM is to block traffic on your worst performing pages. Although that would make your metrics look good, you would earn less money and there is no sensible reason to do this.
Another pitfall of chasing Page RPM as a metric is that it can lead publishers to push too many ads onto the user. If too many ads are placed on a page then user experience will be affected. This can not only lead to increased ad-blocker adoption, but will discourage users from requesting additional pages or even from returning in the future.
Page RPM is useful in the right context, but no single metric gives you the full picture.
Page RPM vs Ad Request RPM
Ad Request RPM is calculated by dividing total ad revenue by total number of ad requests made and then multiplying the answer by 1000. Ad request RPM tells us how much revenue is generated for every 1000 ad requests. Publishers are only paid when an impression is served, so ad requests that go unfilled do not generate revenue. Therefore, Ad Request RPM takes fill rate and coverage into account.
This is relevant to Page RPM because though we can fill a page with ads, we need to know how many of those ad requests are being filled. The lower the fill rate, the lower the revenue.
Page RPM vs Impression RPM
Impression RPM measures how much revenue is generated per thousand impressions. It is calculated by dividing total ad revenue by total impressions and multiplying the answer by 1000. Impression RPM is only part of the puzzle and focusing on the metric alone could be detrimental to improving overall revenue performance. For example:
A publisher already has one ad unit on-page that is in a strong position above-the-fold and is performing well. The publisher decides to add an additional ad unit below-the-fold which does not perform quite so well, and consequently brings down the Impression RPM. However, the overall Page RPM has increased because there are more impressions being served, which results in more revenue for the publisher.
If the publisher had focussed on the data from Impression RPM alone, they would have found that the additional ad placement had a negative impact. However, the opposite was true.
Page RPM vs Session RPM
Session RPM is the total amount of revenue earned per thousand visits to your website. It is calculated by dividing total revenue by total number of sessions and multiplying that answer by 1000. Unlike Session RPM, Page RPM does not take into account how poor user experience can lead to decreased revenue.
For instance: A website averages $5 Page RPM with users viewing 4 pages per visit. A publisher decides to add some more ad units to key landing pages which increases the Page RPM to $7. Taking into account Page RPM alone, this result seems to have a positive impact on publisher revenue. However, Page RPM ignores the fact that pageviews have now dropped to 2 pages per visit. By calculating Session RPM we know that the ad revenue per 1000 visits has dropped by 30% from $20 to $14, bringing down overall ad revenue.
Calculating Page RPM in Ad Manager
Google Ad Manager does not provide Page RPM as a metric to publishers in their dashboard which means that this figure needs to be calculated manually. Using figures from Google Analytics, publishers should divide ad revenue by the total number of pageviews and multiplying the answer by 1000.
OKO publishers thankfully don’t need to do that manual checking. Our system automatically pulls revenue from all managed sources and compares this to Analytics traffic for accurate daily figures. However, even if doing the calculations manually, they are well worth doing. As mentioned previously, publishers should avoid comparing Ad Manager Page RPM with AdSense Page RPM because it is not a like-for-like comparison and the figures are likely to vary.
Limitations of Page RPM
Page RPM is useful when looking to optimise earnings as it is a good indicator of which pages are most successful. However, the main limitation of Page RPM is that it does not take into account the user experience which can decrease ad revenue. Because of this, Page RPM should be combined with other metrics to get a panoramic view of your site’s success.
Dolly joined the OKO team in early 2019 and certified to Google Certified Publishing Partner status. Dolly manages publisher communication and learning at OKO.