What is cost per thousand (CPM)?

Cost per Thousand or CPM is a calculation used by advertising and marketing professionals to compare media based on two variables: audience and cost. It allows advertisers to determine how well a campaign may do using one media channel versus another. The lowest cost per thousand medium is the most efficient, all other variables being equal. Oftentimes the media with the lowest cost per thousand are selected, but not always.

CPM may be computed for a print ad, a digital campaign or broadcast time, and the audience base may be either circulation, homes reached, impressions, readers, or number of audience members of any kind of demographic or product-usage classification.

In the last decade, CPM has become one of the most common online advertising terms used for pricing ads. For digital purposes, CPM is often used to determine the cost for 1,000 impressions/views of an advertisement.

Publishers and media properties use CPM to measure revenue made per 1,000 impressions of the ad.

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