What is Cost Per Thousand (CPM) in Digital Marketing

by Jay Kang | Posted on November 29th, 2023
Cost Per Thousand (CPM)

Cost Per Thousand, commonly known by its acronym CPM (where ‘Mille’ stands for thousand in Latin), is a fundamental concept in digital marketing and online advertising. It refers to the cost an advertiser pays for every thousand impressions (views) of their advertisement.

This model is prevalent in the realm of internet advertising, where it serves as a cornerstone for understanding and managing the economics of digital ad campaigns.

What is CPM: Understanding the Basics

CPM is a metric that quantifies the cost of having an advertisement displayed a thousand times on a website or a digital platform. It is a method used to price ad banners, sponsored social media posts, and other digital ad formats. This pricing model is advantageous for advertisers as it allows them to gauge the cost-effectiveness of their advertising expenditures based on the visibility of their ads.

Calculating CPM: The Methodology Explained

The calculation of CPM is straightforward yet critical for budgeting and strategy in advertising. To calculate CPM, divide the total cost of the advertising campaign by the total number of impressions it generates. Then, multiply this result by 1000. This formula provides advertisers with a clear and quantifiable measure of how much they are paying for the visibility of their advertisements.

Example: If an advertising campaign costs $200 and generates 50,000 impressions, the CPM would be calculated as follows:

Industry Benchmarks: What Constitutes a Good CPM?

A ‘good’ CPM is contextual and varies across different platforms and industries. It’s a balancing act between achieving maximum visibility and maintaining cost-effectiveness. For social media campaigns, an average CPM could range from $5 to $10. However, platforms like Google Ads display a wider range, with search ads averaging around $38 and display ads around $3. These figures serve as benchmarks, helping advertisers set realistic expectations and budget effectively.

The Significance of High and Low CPMs

Interpreting CPM requires more than just looking at the numbers. A high CPM might indicate premium ad placement or targeted audiences, which can be beneficial but only if it translates into higher engagement or sales. Conversely, a low CPM could mean broader reach but might lack targeting precision. It’s essential to align CPM with campaign objectives and overall marketing strategy.

Beyond CPM: Integrating with Other Metrics

While CPM provides valuable insights into the cost efficiency of an advertisement, it shouldn’t be the sole metric to guide advertising strategies. It’s crucial to consider it alongside other key performance indicators like Click-Through Rate (CTR) and Conversion Rate to gain a comprehensive view of an ad campaign’s effectiveness.

Case Study: Real-World Application of CPM

Consider a hypothetical scenario where a new e-commerce brand launches a digital ad campaign. With a budget of $1000 and an aim to maximize brand awareness, the brand opts for a platform known for its lower CPM rates. The campaign yields 500,000 impressions, resulting in a CPM of $2. While the low CPM indicates cost-effective brand exposure, the true measure of success will depend on subsequent metrics like website traffic, customer engagement, and eventual sales conversions.


Understanding and effectively utilizing CPM is vital. It offers a quantifiable measure of advertising spend efficiency but should always be considered as part of a broader strategy encompassing various performance metrics. By doing so, marketers and advertisers can ensure that their campaigns are not only cost-effective but also align with their broader business objectives.

Jay Kang

Jay Kang, entrepreneur and SEO expert, is the driving force behind innovative platforms like linkilo.co and seorankserp.com. His latest creation, ProductReview.Tools, provides affiliate marketers with a powerful WordPress plugin for crafting high-converting reviews. Committed to empowering marketers, Jay continues to make a positive impact in the digital marketing space.