We’ve delved in to the mildly taboo topic of the potential money to be made on YouTube many times on ReelSEO. You’ll hear lots of complaints and comments from creators who are not earning the kind of revenue from advertising they thought they would, but it’s still pretty rare to hear from those who are making a very good living, even rarer to find any that will disclose any kind of data about it.

There are a few reasons for this – firstly, it’s none of anybody else’s damn business, and contractual restrictions often stand in the way of those who don’t mind who knows how much they bring in. However, once in a while someone breaks ranks and opens the door a little to let us peek into their world, and this week it’s Hank Green, one half of the VlogBrothers, co-creator of VidCon, and all-round YouTube big shot. Yay!

Do Other People’s YouTube CPMs Look This Good?

In a blog post entitled “Do Other People’s YouTube CPMs Look This Good?” Hank confirmed the impressive increase in CPM rates that his blue ribbon network of YouTube channels has seen in the past few years. What’s a CPM rate? It’s the amount that advertisers bid for their ads to appear against content – in this case, against YouTube video content. There are a number of variables that affect the price such as the content the ads are run against, and the ‘value’ of the creator’s Channel in terms of subscribers, and average views per video.

Highlighting specific CPM rates info per channel is forbidden under YouTube’s TOS, and Hank doesn’t break that rule, but he does give an overview of the progress that their 15 channels have made in attracting decent rates of CPM – up by 450% in the last 2.5 years:

hank green youtube playback based cpm

The Greens Attract a Higher CPM – Because They Are The Greens

hank greenThe Green’s video content is heavily weighted towards educational topics, and 50% of their ad impressions are against these informative videos. Green makes it clear that the above graph refers to the rise in money paid per ad impression, and not any actual growth in revenue, but even after YouTube has taken its 45% slice of the revenue pie, these figures suggest that the creators are making a sustainable living from their video content.

If the average rate for pre-roll ad is $7.60 per 1,000 ad views on YouTube – a figure that most creators will never reach – then the Greens need never write another Hollywood blockbuster, or produce any creative outside of YouTube to cover their mortgages. But that’s the Greens, and they have worked tirelessly for years to build up their network and to produce a consistent 3 uploads per day. It’s no wonder that their CPM rates reflect this.

Advertising Works for the Greens, But They are Bothered By It

In 2013, Hank’s (vlog) brother John, he of ‘The Fault in our Stars’ fame, took to YouTube to champion ways of generating revenue without having to rely on income for advertising. He argues that advertising doesn’t incentivize the best views, it incentivizes the most views, so YouTube communities are only really rewarded for their sizes, and not for their innovation or creativity.

We love the Greens. They produce outstanding content, generously give back to the community that supports them, and have an admirable work ethic. The fact that they are at the top of their profession speaks volumes about their drive and talent. But does Hank’s spotlight on the success of their CPM rates foretell the same for hundreds and thousands of other creators? Sadly, we think not, but we’re looking forward to finding out if others come out with their stats.