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Ask HN: how many page views i need to earn $5000 per month from ads?
61 points by maxwin on July 19, 2009 | hide | past | web | favorite | 30 comments
Hi, Everyone, if i have a web app, i would like to know how many page views or unique visitors i need to have in order to make about $5000 dollars a month from Ads? Any (educated) estimation or guess? It will be great to hear from your own experience. Thanks.

The real answer is, of course, that it totally depends. Here's some reasonable generic ranges though:

   --------     -------     ---------    ----------
   Best         $1.00       2            2.5 million
   Okay         $0.25       2            10 million
   Bad          $0.15       2            16 million
You can almost always show more than one ad per page. But, don't over do it.

The primary way to generate significant ad revenue with low page views is to have highly targeted content and sell ads directly for $4+ CPM. It's better to think of this kind of advertising as sponsorship, and charge appropriately (preferably thousands over month+ commitments).

I have a niche high market value site, generating a CPM of about $26, with a very healthy CTR. It's only a little side project and doesn't receive that much traffic, so it's certainly not my main business. But just goes to show, you don't necessarily need millions of page views, or indeed hundreds of thousands if you select your market wisely.

If it's getting $26 ecpms, why aren't you buying assloads of adsense traffic for it? If you have good retention, surely you can buy customers for less than you make off of them. If each customer averages only $100 pageviews that's still $2.60 a pop.

It's a project from a few years back that failed to live up to my misguided immediate expectations. So it was put on the back burner and now and again I look back and its been making steady progress. I'll get back to it soon and see if I can crank it up a few gears. The investment in time has been done, and it has a foothold, so now it should just be a case of expanding on what's there.

I'm not sure if what you have described would work for my particular site, I think id need an actual product rather than just articles and content, otherwise it's a bit of a gray area?

It is not a gray area at all if the keywords you are bidding for are relevant to your site.

Google will HEAVILY penalize you if they think you are doing "arbitrage" (paying for ads to get visitors who you hope will click on ads) because they think this makes for a sucky user experience. It is fairly easy for them to figure out who is doing this, considering they own the best CPC program in the world to get traffic (AdWords) and also own the best CPC program in the word to sell your traffic (AdSense). That gives them plenty of data to be a law unto themselves, but they have other sources if you decide to be tricky and try something like Yahoo CPC -> you -> AdSense.

Source ? AFAIK, google will penalize you only if the target site is filled with ads. If the target page has useful relevant content then google doesn't care. This is an accepted practice and high profile people have indulged in it (shoemoney for example) without getting penalized.

As far as I know there's no reason not to buy traffic to a content destination. It's not commonly done, but then it's not common to get $26 ecpms.

On a site with a desirable niche audience, you can hit $4 CPMs averaged across 6 ads, so you'd only need ~200k page views to make 5K.

Eek. I get an average eCPM of $0.06.

Those figures sound about right, with the caveat that CPMs can vary wildly over time even with the same audience and website. There is a market out there and what holds today will most likely not hold tomorrow.

Here is a point to remember: the less popular your website, the lower your CPM average will be.

If you only attract 1,000 unique visitors - your CPM maybe well under $1. But if you cross 20,000 or 50,000 visitors - your CPM could go as high as $2 to $5. (I've seen websites earn $10 per CPM too - but that is very rare.)

Most money in selling ads is made if you sell the ads privately. Without allowing Google or anyone else to take a big hefty cut.

But you won't be able to sell out all your inventory on your own if you're not already popular.

Anyhow - general rule of thumb: if a website can cross over the half a million visitors mark - he can make $5,000 from ads per month. (6 ads per page at $2 CPM on average.)

So aim for 500,000 visitors per month.

This completely contradicts my experience. (in total roughly 1M uniques / day on all the sites that I'm involved with).

The larger the site the lower the CPM in my case, and that is significantly lower. Bulk traffic seems to get lower CPMs than niche sites, the smaller sites make as much as $5 and the larger ones are way down, some all the way down to $0.12.

What sites do you see this opposite effect on ?

I should stress that I'm talking about selling ads privately.

$2 CPM per ad at 6 ad spots = $12 CPM for the website. You will very rarely earn $12 CPM from Google.

FreelanceSwitch.com sells 125*125 ad spots at $900 (raised from $800 recently). And gets 500,000 page views. (Pretty close to $2 CPM).

SearchEngineJournal.com sells ad spots for $1000. And gets 300,000 page views ($3.3 CPM).

If you're selling ads privately - and show your analytics to your advertisers - they won't say that reduce my CPM rate as your traffic has increased. And if they do - you can just put up an ad-rotator so that their ads are only shown to as many people as they can afford.

And if you show your analytics that has a trend of increasing traffic - you will start finding better quality of advertisers too - people who will not mind paying a higher CPM.

So yes - as your traffic grows and you attract enough advertisers to sell all your ad inventory - you can increase your prices slowly and steadily. The trick is to reach a stage where you can sell all your ads privately.

Its supply and demand after that. (Supply of ad spots remains the same. Demand keeps on growing as your website grows in popularity.)

Nice job on the layout on FreelanceSwitch.com very clean!

Large sites with bulk qualified traffic e.g. auto or real estate classifieds can do 200m PIs a month and still make $5-$10 CPMs. To do so you'll either have to rep your own site or use a good agency, and be quite targeted e.g. Escalade ad for X5 search results.

My adsense stats last month: 200K page views, $1300, CPM of around $6 for a very narrowly targeted website. As other posters have said, it's highly domain specific.

There are sites that estimate ad revenue: http://www.webtrafficagents.com/WebSitevalue/WebSiteWorth.as...

Then, you can use Quantcast or Alexa to determine page views: http://quantcast.com http://alexa.com

From my own experience? I no longer get anywhere near this but last year I made between 4-9k per month on only a few thousand pageviews a day to my personal blog - I was getting > $10 CPM from Adsense no trouble. No scams, etc.

Sadly my blog went down the rankings a bit and with the general advertising slump, even several hundred dollars is good for 2009 :-(

It could be from 500 to 500 millions, really. Depends on so many factors; what ads, how many, CPM or CPC? Clickthrought rate? How high is your CPM? Are you selling stuff too?

As others have said it depends on what your site is about. If your site already exists there isn't much you can do but if you are planning to create a site then you can find out what the CPM average is by using Google Adword tools to find out how much people are paying for the key words. That will give you a fairly good idea of what you can charge. As others have already said you will make more money if you sell adds yourself but I would only budget two or three times the price not ten or one hundred times markup.<br><br> Also a pure add model isn't generally the best idea. If you link to a realted product you can often get comissions that are much higher than the CPM average that you will get for adds. Without context you can only assume that you will get $0.15 CPM. Social networking sites are probably slightly less.

my site would need 1.25mm page loads or 125k uniques per a month Im currently at 7% of that or (9k unq's). (assumes my cpm scales) .. my site is weather related.

I would assume a web app would get more pageloads but have a much lower CPM.

In my experience, CPM from AdSense does not scale by itself. When you're only serving up a few thousand impressions per day, all it takes are a few good advertisers on your keywords for you to get a pretty nice daily payoff, but as soon as you burn through the high CPM ads from AdSense, you get down to their low CPM remnant inventory.

For example, at 30k impressions per day, you might make $75 from AdSense at a $2.50 CPM. If you keep relying on AdSense as your traffic numbers go up to 500k impressions per day, you'll still get the $75, but most of the traffic above that level comes in at a low CPM, say $0.20, and you end up with $169 for that day rather than $1300.

The takeaway is that you can't rely on AdSense to scale, and selling your own ads makes sense at a certain traffic level.

Those figures are way too low. See



At 30K uniques per day you become a google premium adsense partner and google will allow you to customize the adsense code etc.

Actually, as a (somewhat) large AdSense publisher, I disagree with you on both points.

My experience matches up with what drp is saying: Once you start serving a high volume of AdSense ads, the CPM drops dramatically. The result is that you essentially receive a fixed income from Google based on your audience and clickthrough ratio.

In addition, the "Premium" program has not existed for several years. I have 60-90k uniques, but do not qualify for any special consideration (I've asked). The features of the old "Premium" program are now offered à-la-carte to publishers based on factors which are much more strict than before.

And the figures he gave are just examples set to scale. The numbers he quotes are irrelevant, because the amount of money one makes an an AdSense publisher varies greatly depending on many, many factors. Just because "ask the builder" makes $1,500/day from AdSense doesn't mean that most publishers with the same traffic will.

I'm speaking of impressions, not uniques.

You were saying adsense doesn't scale. That at 500K impression you are likely to get only $169. That is simply not true.

See this comment http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=712746 200K impressions, 1300$ income

Nothing in that comment disproves what drp is saying.

The only knowledge you gain from idlewords' comment is the final amount. For all we know, $1,200 of that $1,300 might be earned from the first 100k impressions, and the other $100 from the second 100k.

In addition, just because idlewords has earned $1300 from 200k impressions doesn't mean that he won't soon exhaust his inventory if his site grows.

1. see the first case study i linked to. AskTheBuilder was generating 1500$ a day.

2. At that traffic level, you will become a google adsense premium publisher and google will help in optimizing your ads to generate maximum revenue

3. It just doesn't make sense that google can't fill an inventory. Unless you have a highly limited site with very less keywords to target, there will be plenty of inventory. At that traffic level, you can privately place ads if you are not happy with google. Do you think google would let go of a high traffic site? No! and this is precisely why they have a adsense premium publisher program

I just requested a media kit from a blog that covers data centers: 45$ CPM.

CPMs at big internet marketing sites are worth much more than that.

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