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YouTube Ad Revenue Per View Definition

Group of people looking at laptop screen in dark room (© chombosan /

Group of people looking at laptop screen in dark room (© chombosan /

Making a living from YouTube is something that many people would love to be able to do. It’s incredible really to think that you can make a full time career, doing something you love and building a loyal audience.

YouTube Ad Revenue explained

But just how does YouTube ad revenue work? And how much traffic do you need for this to be a sustainable living income? Making money as a YouTuber might seem like the perfect gig. You get to get paid for creating content on any topic you wish and hopefully something you find inspiring and feel passionately about.

At the same time, being a YouTuber means that you get to enjoy a semblance of fame. You’ll have a relationship with your fans and will have engaged with them and build their trust in a way that would be impossible to approach with any other format. But how much can you really expect to make? And how many visitors will you need to attract in order to make a livable income? Let’s dive in and find out.

Statistic: Net video advertising revenues of YouTube in the United States from 2015 to 2018 (in billion U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

The Basics

There are two types of ads that can show on a YouTube video. One is an ad that is displayed before or during the video and which will be a video itself. These ads will pay out different amounts depending on whether they are clicked, watched all the way through or skipped.

Either way though, the amount that gets earned is relatively small and somewhat unknown. Some estimates put the rough estimate at around $2,000 for every one million views. I have personally had access to the statistics of a YouTube channel with 3 milliion subscribers, and that was earning around $15,000 a month.

That’s a relatively small amount then when you consider how much those channels will be earning for the advertisers. It’s important also to consider that most YouTube channels will struggle to make even close to one million views per month – essentially making this a somewhat futile goal.

But before your dreams of being a YouTube star are completely squashed, consider a few points…

  1. While rare, it is possible to gain a million subscribers even as an independent vlogger. People like NerdWriter, or MKBHD manage to make those kinds of numbers and likely earn a very healthy wage.
  2. There are other forms of monetization for YouTube. This is particularly true at the moment, after the ‘adpocalypse’ – a period when a lot of videos were demonetized to protect advertisers and creators lost thousands of dollars a month in some cases. This was a reaction to some dubious content becoming associated with advertisers and a new automated system being used to flag up ‘inappropriate’ videos. This caused a mass exodus from YouTube’s own advertising program, as many publishers sought new ways to get money for their hard work. Two methods became quickly popular:
    1. Sponsorship – many creators will work with sponsors and get paid to mention brands and products at the start of their videos. There are many networks where vloggers and YouTubers can find those partners and thereby get paid. In other cases, you can try contacting brands directly, or waiting to be contacted.
    2. Patreon – Patreon is theoretically a more viewer-centric option. Here, viewers and subscribers that are very fond of the creator and want to see them continue to make videos will pay a ‘donation’ to keep the channel live.
  3. A third option that many YouTubers have used for a long time is to sell their own product. Likewise, they can send viewers from a website and gain money from there.
  4. And finally, you can consider using YouTube’s own subscription service ‘YouTube Red’.