Let’s talk about session RPM

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As a publisher[11], you understand how important it is to measure the performance[4] of your website(s). This allows you to see if your users are loving your site, or if there are opportunities for you to optimize. Lots of data points are available to a publisher, like CPM[1], eCPM[2], overall revenue, page RPM[12], and fill rate[13]. We know that it can be challenging to determine which metric matters most—at HeaderBidding.com, we recommend focusing on session RPM to realize where you can improve your site(s).

What is session RPM?

Session RPM is the amount of revenue per thousand users. It is also known as, RPM V (revenue per mille[3] visits) or RPM U (revenue per mille users).

Specifically, the amount of revenue earned by a website via display ads[5] for every one thousand users. As more ads are seen as a user consumes more of your website content, the overall value of the individual session for that user to the publisher increases.

This also can be parlayed into how happy users are with a website. The more interested a person is in a website, the longer they will stay on it. Therefore, the more pages they will visit. Session RPM can range anywhere from $1.00 to well over $100.00 per thousand sessions. It is also a valuable metric to use to measure the impact of changes of A/B testing layouts, ad unit[14] formats, or user behaviours. Mainly because session RPM can provide very immediate feedback to see whether a change is impacting things positively or negatively.

Traffic levels might normally be higher on different days of a week, or across different weeks. So while overall revenue might be up, if session RPM decreased, this might indicate that something happened to reduce the end-user experience.

How is it calculated?

Session RPM = ( Revenue / Number of ad sessions) x 1,00

Why is session RPM more important than page RPM?

Our team often gets the question, “Which metric matters most, page RPM or session RPM?”

We occasionally observe publishers try to increase page RPM by overloading their page with ads. As a short-sighted solution, this method works to improve your page RPM. At HeaderBidding.com, we prefer to use session RPM as our starting point—it is our gold standard for optimizing yield[15] *and* user experience.

When you only focus on page RPM, you risk leaving a negative impact on your readers by overloading a page with ads. If those readers get overwhelmed with ads on your page, they could exit their session prematurely and may not return.

Page RPM = ( Revenue / Number of page views) x 1,000

How can you improve your session RPM?

The few occasions we see session RPM decrease are when CPM decreases, there are fewer pages per session, or a lower value user visits the site (for example, a non-English speaking user visits an English-only website). Our team works with publishers to continuously optimize session RPM and address issues where we see session RPM decrease. Here are a few ways you can improve session RPM:

  • Optimize layouts (or advertiser[6] demand stacks etc.) to improve viewability[7] and advertiser competition which translates to higher CPMs.
  • Test various ad refresh[8] strategies (including managed refresh) to increase impression[9] volume. Monetize paid traffic sources or marketing content (unpaid or paid channels).
  • Test internal content recommendation strategies to improve user pages per session.
  • Break out session RPM by device type to identify specific layouts that should be optimized.

Work closely with your ad ops[10] solution to optimize site performance and address issues like these when session RPM decreases. If you want to increase ad earnings while maintaining a positive user experience, pay attention to optimizing session RPM.

1. Cost Per Mille/Thousand [CPM] ( CPM ) Cost per mille, or thousand (mille = thousand in Latin). A pricing model in which advertisers pay for every 1000 impressions of their advertisement served. This is the standard basic pricing model for online advertising. See also CPC and CPA.
2. Effective Cost Per Thousand Impression [eCPM] ( eCPM ) eCPM is known as the effective cost per thousand impressions and is a metric used by publishers to determine the actual rate they’re earning from their ad inventory. eCPM is calculated by taking your (total ad earnings/impressions) x 1000.
3. revenue per mille. RPM is known as revenue per 1000 impressions and relates to the estimated ad earnings you could receive per 1000 ad impressions. RPM is calculated as estimated earnings/pageviews or impressions x 1000.
4. performance. A form of advertising in which the purchaser pays only when there are measurable results.
5. display ads. Display ads are a term used for traditional banner advertisements that serve on mobile or desktop web pages. Like video ads, many variations, types, and sizes exist.

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