Does ad impression affect a publisher’s revenue?

The industry standard for recording impressions has changed significantly over the past two decades.

February 2004:

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has published guidelines for interactive audience measurement and ad campaign reporting and auditing, encouraging the use of customer-initiated (download count) impression measurement methods.

The MRC (in partnership with the IAB Emerging Innovations Task Force) published the Visual Advertising Impression Measurement Guidelines in June 2014. The guidelines define ads with at least 50% of their pixels visible on the focused browser tab as “viewable” for at least one second (image and text ads) and two seconds (video ads).

October 2017: MRC/IAB/MMA/MMTF publishes updated impression-based guidance covering desktop display, mobile web and mobile application (in-app) environments, formalizing “start rendering” display ad impressions Metrics.
When searching for the best CPM ad networks for publishers, you should understand how they count impressions. Transparency is the key to profitability, and now that you’re here, you can learn all about How Adsterra Calculates 1000 Impressions: Publisher’s CPM Explained.

Factors Affecting CPM Rates

Let’s briefly discuss the main factors that can affect a publisher’s CPM rate.

Website Introduction

  • website niche
  • Keyword/Search Intent
  • SERP location
  • Traffic
  • download speed
  • Mobile friendly user interface

On-page SEO and user experience

  • Ad viewability
  • Ad Density (Number)
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • ad format
  • ad frequency
  • Webpage navigation


  • GEO device, operating system, browser
  • ad format
  • New VS Active Users
  • session duration
  • got engaged

Agenda and Trends

  • recurring event
  • seasonal
  • competition
  • Advertiser’s budget
  • Quarterly buying cycle
  • force majeure

First, some factors are beyond the publisher’s control, but can be predicted and prepared accordingly.

Geography and location

CPM rates are related to the GDP of the country where the content is served. Advertisers are less likely to bid for impressions in countries with lower consumer purchasing power (i.e. Tier 3 GEO).

Four seasons

CPM rates are largely influenced by the date and time the ad is scheduled to run. Most publishers know that demand will drop in January as advertisers refine their budgets and holiday campaigns.

Anything that increases consumer spending, such as holidays, sporting events or Black Friday, will drive up the CPM rate.

Equipment type

The more information you have about your users, the more effective your advertising campaigns will be. Although mobile traffic has surpassed desktop, desktop CPM is higher due to its higher conversion rate. Mobile device type also affects rates. Advertisers are generally willing to pay more for iOS and Mac impressions. We all know that iPhones are expensive, i.e. Apple users are more likely to have disposable income. Additionally, some online products are only available on specific devices, so advertisers tend to pay more to reach their target audience. In addition to audience demographics, ad serving technology can also significantly impact CPM. Interesting read: How to deal with low CPMs. List of publishers.

Ads Placement

The higher your ad’s CPM rate, the more impressions you will receive. This means that CPMs are highest in content-rich center-of-page ads and above-the-fold banner ads. The darker areas on this screen map indicate which placements are generating the highest CPMs.

Ad format

Your ad format determines where it can appear and how users will see it. Video ads usually require a lot of user attention; therefore, they have a higher CPM rate. Not many readers are willing to watch video ads while reading an article.

Interactive ads help capture user attention in the fraction of a second it takes to sign up for a viewable impression, thereby increasing click-through rates. For these reasons, more complex formats, such as custom in-page pushes, may attract higher CPMs.


Let’s talk about the increasingly popular interstitial ads. These full screen ads are easy to dismiss on mobile and desktop. Publishers especially like them because they’re not as annoying as pop-ups and drive high click-through rates, which means CPMs grow.

Ad viewability

An ad is only viewable when at least 50% of its pixels remain in the viewport for a second or longer. The user has to interact with the page, not just scroll the page for this to happen. Publishers with low ad viewability scores have a hard time attracting high CPMs. Ad networks recognize this and offer campaigns where advertisers only pay for verified viewable impressions.

Providing 100% viewability results in a significant increase in CPM rates, but it may take a long time for publishers to record such impressions. Users scroll slowly on pages with a lot of content, so placing ads at the bottom of the first viewport ensures that they are visible the entire time the user is reading the screen.

User Info

The more information advertisers have about their target audience, the more likely they are to convert them. The more information your audience leaves behind, whether through cookies or first-party data, the higher CPMs you can ask for.

Buyer’s Journey

People rarely buy something online the first time they see it. This means that users will consult multiple sources, read reviews and weigh professional advice before switching. Advertisers will be willing to pay a higher CPM for impressions at this stage if a user fails during the conversion funnel (such as viewing reviews).

Here, you can see how articles can provide advertisers with impressions from specific audiences when they are ready to buy. The CPM for that content will be higher due to competition from relevant advertisers.

Number of ad units

You can increase your CPM by reducing the number of ad units while maintaining a great, unified experience—but you have only a few buyers. To find the optimal range between CPM and number of ads, test and experiment with ARPU to see how any changes will affect your bottom line. It’s worth learning how to combine ad formats so you can diversify your revenue without annoying your users.

Brand safety

Brand safety for advertisers means two things: ensuring that their ads are not subject to ad fraud (robot clicks or content substitution), and that their ads are not appearing next to objectionable content.

According to Integral Ad Science, advertisers who don’t filter fraud can lose as much as 22% of their impressions due to invalid traffic. Then there is the issue of negative news. Brands don’t want their ads to get lost in bad news.

Some advertisers offer higher cost-per-mile rates for quality to ensure brand safety. QCPM only counts viewable, brand-safe impressions, and the impressions are frequency capped to prevent them from appearing too often. This is a good example of how low CPM doesn’t always mean good for advertisers. A page crammed with low-value, low-quality ad placements is always worse for reader experience and publisher revenue than a page with fewer, higher-quality, high CPM ads.