The Mediavine RPM Challenge: 2020 Update

Phone with RPM challenge logo displayed

Hello there! I’m Cristina, Publisher Support Specialist and Optimization Expert. A big part of my job here at Mediavine is helping publishers maximize their ad revenue. I’m super excited to share that we have revamped the RPM Challenge to help you optimize your site to earn more!

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What is the Mediavine RPM Challenge?

We launched our first Mediavine RPM Challenge in October 2018 to help publishers leave no stone unturned when optimizing content for Q4. The Mediavine RPM Challenge is back, redesigned and armed with the most up-to-date tips and best practices to help you maximize your income at any time of year!

A lot has changed in two years. While many things have remained the same when it comes to what makes for great performing ads (content length, short paragraphs, optimizing your most valuable content, etc), we have lots of new tricks up our sleeves as well as some updated best practices to pass on.

And in light of what’s been going on this year, I think everyone would agree that sometimes you need to think outside the box to get it done!

This year has certainly been unpredictable, ad revenue included. However, just like any other year, we’re looking forward to seeing high advertiser spend in Q4, ramping up around the second week of November and carrying on through the end of December.

The goal of the Mediavine RPM Challenge is to make sure you’re ready to earn as much as you can during this time and also prepare you to earn well EVERY quarter!

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Step 1 — Follow along with the first post in the Challenge and do the Google Analytics Audit to find last year’s top posts for every month of a quarter to find which posts to optimize. The best way to predict what posts will trend this year is to look back and see what posts were popular with your readers the previous year.

Step 2 — Get tips from the second post in the Challenge to analyze and optimize your top posts. Once you have a good idea of what content to focus on, analyze those posts and optimize them. Do an ad audit and a site audit. Make sure you’re getting every impression you can!

Step 3 — Read through the third Challenge post to share your work and track your progress. Make the most of that optimized content through social shares and keep up with your growth!

What’s new since 2018

The new Mediavine Dashboard with page-level data

Dashboard 2.0 opened up a wealth of data including average impressions per page, fill rates, CPMs and viewability. Now you’ll be able to see how optimizing your posts can translate into revenue on the page-level, and you can really dig into what posts are earning well for you and what posts need further optimization.

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How to tell why a post isn’t earning well

Your Ad Revenue essentially comes down to a simple equation:

CPM * Impressions / 1000 = Your Money!

How much advertisers spend on a post and how many ads that are viewed by your reader are big parts of the equation of how you earn. If you notice a post with a lower RPM or lower overall revenue, look at the impressions and CPM for that post to see what part of the equation is lacking.


The metric that you have the most control over is Impression/Page. This is the average number of impressions served per pageview.

How your readers interact with your content plays a big role in how your ads perform. Since this can be so crucial, impressions/page data gives you a good idea of reader behavior on your site.

A good thing to keep in mind is that impressions are not the number of ads per page, but the number of actual ads served. A high number of impressions is a great indicator that your post is well optimized and your readers are really engaging with your content. Low impression numbers mean you have some more work to do!

Are you using a jump button? Does it stand out and encourage your readers to skip over all of your content? Is your most valuable content too high in the post? Look at your posts on both desktop and mobile and really look at it from the perspective of a reader to find why those impression numbers are so low.

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What does it mean if my CPM is lower?

Just like many different factors can go into your RPM and overall earnings, CPM is influenced by a lot of different things as well. These can include:

  • Your Traffic — Where your readers are coming from, what device they’re on, demographics, and a multitude of things can play a role in how much advertisers will spend.
  • Viewability — Advertisers will pay more if they feel confident their ad will be seen by the reader. Things like page speed and how quickly your readers scroll through your content can impact your site-wide viewability score.
  • Your keywords — Do you have any words in your post that might not be considered “family-friendly?”

It’s not always possible to directly control your CPM, but gaining insight into how those numbers are being influenced on your site is beneficial, and can help you know where to focus your energy.

Many publishers earn 20–25% of their ad revenue from video alone so it’s pretty huge! The new Custom Playlist and Featured Video Playlist features gives you more control over how your videos are shown to your readers.

The revamped Mediavine RPM Challenge will help you make the most of your highest paying ad unit by making sure you’re following all the best video practices. The workbook contains a brand new video checklist to help you make sure each video you make performs its absolute best.

woman filming a video

Grow Social Pro

Grow Social Pro is our social sharing WordPress plugin that includes options for social share buttons and some powerful Pinterest settings to help you put your Pinterest game on autopilot.

With Grow Social Pro you’ll be able to set custom and hidden Pinterest images for each of your posts that includes a section dedicated to Pinterest descriptions so you can make the most out of your keywords and Pinterest SEO plan.

If you’re just getting started with Grow and Pinterest, make sure to read the blog post about how to use Grow for Pinterest.

hands holding phone with grow logo and social icons


In 2018, we officially launched Create by Mediavine®, the card that marks up your content for schema and opens up that ad unit beyond the recipe-writing crew to all of the world’s bloggers who run “How-To” content, so they can take advantage of this unit as well.

The List feature is great for round-ups too. It makes creating a round-up post of both yours and your friend’s content a breeze meaning more posts to earn from without too much extra work. Win-win, right? We’ve loved seeing how our publishers have used Create so be sure to check out our list of creative ways to use Create!


Grow.Me is Mediavine’s new, currently-in-beta, audience engagement platform. It works directly with the script wrapper that Mediavine publishers already have implemented on their site and is not only beneficial for earnings, but great for readers as well!

Grow.Me allows your readers to log in to save their favorites, build recipe boxes, share content and everything else they’ll love. It will also help you collect very important first-party data.

What’s new in the workbook?

  • Updated ad settings and recommendations
  • Worksheet to help you dive into page-level data
  • Longer SEO checklist based on SEO Like A CEO
  • Video checklist to make sure they’re performing optimally

If you’re a person who likes printable, check out our PDF of the workbook. If you’re a person who likes digital work, we have the workbook in spreadsheet form.

Join us in our Facebook group for community support!

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