Report: Small Publishers See eCPMs Drop

By Josh Catone
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According to the latest PubMatic AdPrice Index, average eCPMs across the board are mostly flat. eCPMs across all sites dropped a penny to 0.36 in June. That’s down from 49 cents in March (an NCAA basketball tournament bump?). The hardest hit publisher segment this month were small publishers (under 1 million page views) who saw eCPM averages fall for the second straight month to $0.81 — the lowest eCPM since PubMatic began tracking ad prices in January.

Over the winter, small publishers were the only segment experiencing growth, but that trend seems to have reversed. Large publishers (over 100 million pages per month) are starting to see modest month-to-month eCPM gains (could Olympic advertising be fueling some of the gains on large sites?), while medium publishers (1-100 million page views) saw the largest jump this month, but have remained mostly flat on the year.

Of the 5 verticals that PubMatic tracks — social networks, gaming, technology, entertainment, and news — only entertainment saw month-over-month gains. News and gaming, traditionally the best performing verticals in the index, saw the most significant drops.

PubMatic published the following key findings with their June index:

  • On average, Web site monetization decreased by less than one percent from $0.37 in May to $0.36 in June. *(Pricing data reflects net publisher monetization via ad networks and excludes ad networks’ share of ad spends as well as inventory sold directly by publishers to ad agencies or advertisers).
  • By size, small size Web sites had the largest drop to $0.81 in June, down from $1.13 in May.
  • By vertical, News and Gaming had significant drops, sliding $0.62 and $0.20, respectively.
  • Entertainment showed the only increase jumping $0.11 from $0.29 in May to $0.40 in June.

As Don Dodge notes, at the average eCPM of $0.36 that PubMatic is seeing, it would take about 2.8 billion page views to make $1 million from CPM ads. At the $0.27 eCPM in the dismally performing social networking category it would take 3.7 billion page views. These numbers indicate that making money from ads is a big volume game.

Our question to you: has your experience been in line with what PubMatic is reporting? For small publishers, have you been hit hard this summer? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • I think the data underscores just how poor of a job the ad networks are doing for small publishers, and how essential it is for site owners to diversify across multiple revenue sources (, text link sales, affiliate programs, CPA networks, co-registration, etc.)

    It would be interesting to compare the data from PubMatic against data from one of the more “exclusive” networks like GorillaNation or FederatedMedia.

  • My content sites that display AdSense, none of which is outside the ~500 unique per day range (small), don’t show this trend at all. ECPM has been rising consistently the past few months.

    May was up 19% from April
    June was up 10% from May
    July so far is up 3% from June

    That’s a total of 36% better this month than April, and there haven’t been any changes to the ad placements.

  • I rarely see less than $1 eCPM from AdSense – often around the $3 range. Those numbers sound a bit odd to me. But obviously contextual advertising returns vary widely depending on the content/context.

  • phil

    we fall into the medium range and see 5 to 7 times higher than what they are reporting using an ad network and adsense.

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