vCPMs: How to calculate viewability and 5 tested ways to boost vCPMs

July 19, 2023 | by Aleesha Jacob
viewable cost-per-thousand impressions (vcpm)-vcpm-definition

What’s the 411 on viewable cost-per-thousand impressions (vCPM)? If you’re like most publishers, you may be wondering what this metric means for your business and how you can capitalize on it. In this post, we’ll break down the vCPM definition for you and provide some tips on how to make the most of it. Keep reading to learn more about what is vCPM and how it works!

vCPM Definition

vCPM also known as viewable CPM is the abbreviation for cost per thousand viewable impressions. The vCPM metric is used to determine how many people view ads on a web page rather than the number of users who are actually visiting the site.

What counts as a Viewable Impression?

Based on the Media Rating Council & IAB guidelines, views are influenced by the following factors & the ad won’t be checked off as viewed if these standards aren’t met:

  • For over 250K pixel large-format ads, users need to see at least 30% of the ad for over a second.
  • With video ads, the viewability requirements are totally different where users must watch more than 50% of the ad for about 2 seconds or more.
  • Over 50% of the ad appears on the viewer’s screen, and the duration of the advertisement lasts more than a second.

Viewable CPM: why do you need to pay attention to this metric?

To calculate vCPM, publishers need to know what percentage of the ad is visible as well as the viewable impressions. Any portion of the ad that lies outside the fold as well as above or below the fold is deducted from the total ad viewability percentage.

Ad Placement Above the Fold (ATF)

Usually, ad viewability increases when placing ads above the fold as ATF ad units stay visible regardless of scrolling down the webpage.

Since the complete ad appears, you might think this is the best option, however web users are notorious for banner blindness or bouncing leaving only 3/4th of the ad being viewed—which is still better than below the fold (BTF) ad units.

Ad Placement Below the Fold (BTF)

vCPMs: How to calculate viewability and 5 tested ways to boost vCPMs MonitizeMore

Ad viewability drops to 40% for ads below the fold. It is recommended to keep the ad size under 728X90s. Alternative ad placement options like pop-/interstitials or sticky/anchor ads might work for BTF ad units but it’s best to do a web page audit first before implementing them.

While ATF ad placements can garner publishers more visible impressions, currently there’s no solid proof that states ATF trumps BTF ad units. Based on your niche, you’ll need to figure out what works best for your site in order to maintain and grow user engagement.


When it comes to digital marketing, CPM (cost per thousand) has long been the industry standard for measuring ad prices. The term “impression” refers to a display ad being delivered and viewed by 1 person – regardless if they actually look at it or not! In other words: If an ad appears on your screen, then you’ve made an impression on someone (even if they don’t see it or care)!! This costs money and can be expensive for advertisers.

CPM and viewable CPM are often interchanged with other terms like eCPM and eVCPM depending on which part of the world you live in! CPM i.e cost per mile or cost per thousand impressions is an advertising metric taken into consideration for online ad campaign costs. CPM calculation is all about estimating the cost of an ad every time it appears. This includes all ad campaigns that have been run on the website. On a CPM basis, advertisers are charged for all their ads that are displayed on a webpage.

It’s a simple calculation: total ad cost divided by the number of impressions equals CPM. So if an advertiser pays $1,000 for 1,000 impressions, then their CPM would be $10. What’s tricky about the CPM Calculation is that it only counts impressions and not clicks or conversions. So if you see an advertisement but don’t click on it, your count will not be included in the calculation—even though you saw something that interests you!

The advertiser would pay what they bid during the auction regardless of whether the ad is viewable or not. The difference between CPM and vCPM is that, while both are in reference to the cost of 1000 impressions, CPM is a universal standard while vCPM takes viewability into consideration.

On the contrary, vCPM stands for cost per thousand ‘viewable’ impressions meaning that advertisers pay based on thousand viewable impressions of the number of ads viewed. The vCPM metric is mainly used to track ad campaigns that enable advertisers to measure the number of times an ad is really viewed on a page.

Advertisers who are mainly looking to improve their brand awareness are more likely to flock towards vCPM as they don’t waste money in this case. When an advertiser using viewable cost-per-thousand visible impressions, solely pay for visible & active users. Ad Campaign rates mainly depend on the ad viewability metric since visible impressions are only taken into account for viewable cpms.

vCPMs: How to calculate viewability and 5 tested ways to boost vCPMs MonitizeMore

What is the difference between Visible impressions & non-viewable impressions?

You may be wondering what the difference is between a viewable impression and a non-viewable impression. A viewable impression is counted when the ad is seen by the user, whereas a non-viewable impression is counted when the ad is on the page but not visible to the user. So why does this matter?

Because these measurements are measured by two different parties, they aren’t always in agreement with each other. For example, let’s say your site has an average time spent of one minute per visit; but if you only measure viewability as part of your vCPM campaign (which doesn’t include time spent), you might see that 40% of your ads were not viewed at all!

vCPM Formula: How to calculate Viewable cost-per-thousand impressions (vcpm):

Calculating viewable CPMs is similar to the CPM calculation. Consider the following variables when crafting an ad campaign using a vCPM plan:

  • Ad viewability: 68% considering above-the-fold ads.
  • CPM: $2 per click
  • Gross budget: $50,000 (advertising campaign’s budget)
  • Actual impressions: 50,000,000
  • Viewable Impressions: 25,00,000
  • Highest vCPM bid: $5

To calculate vCPM, you need to know the cost of your ads and the number of viewable impressions.

Here’s the vCPM Calculation formula:

vCPM = Total advertising Budget / {(Actual Impressions * Ad Viewability percentage) / 1000}

At least 50% of the ad must be visible for more than one second in order to qualify. Using the above viewability formula example to calculate vCPM, each viewable CPM should be:

$50,000 / {(50,000,000 * 0.68) / 1000 } = $1.47

In this case, the vCPM is $1.47 since 3/4th of the ad is in the visual field for more than 1 second.

Ultimately, we’re looking to drive down the viewable cost, increase the number of ad impressions, and deliver a better return on ads spent (ROAS).

How to increase Viewable cost-per-thousand impressions (vcpm):

vCPMs: How to calculate viewability and 5 tested ways to boost vCPMs MonitizeMore

To improve ad viewability, it is important to understand how it works and what factors contribute to it. Since vCPMs are still a new ad viewability metric, here’s what you can do to improve advertising viewability & increase vCPM from now onwards:

  • Keep testing multiple variables simultaneously; ensure that all critical data is included in the metric for the ideal outcome.
  • Make use of heatmap tools to find out the most engaging parts of your webpage, typically the ad units garnering a lot of user interaction and organic CTRs.
  • Keep working on your ad viewability strategies and split test every two weeks.
  • Prior to providing pricing and planning services to network advertisers, publishers should conduct a thorough analysis of their ad viewability and audit their inventory.
  • Use MonetizeMore’s Pubguru Viewability Booster feature to boost your ad viewability. With improved viewability, you get better vCPMs.
vCPMs: How to calculate viewability and 5 tested ways to boost vCPMs MonitizeMore
Pubguru’s AdX Report for tracking viewability

Wrap Up

During your CPM calculation and vCPM calculation, it’s important to consider the cost variable you’re attempting to measure. There are a tonne of ways to analyze ad viewability, but if the main goal is better ROI, keep track of your key performance indicators (KPIs) and optimize,

Viewable CPM may have an adverse impact on publishers’ earnings in comparison to standard CPM.

Nevertheless, when used effectively, ad viewability indicators can yield benefits to both advertising and business development in the long run. Publishers who are utilizing header bidding and private marketplaces do not need to worry about

With the PubGuru Viewability Booster feature, we make it easy for publishers to analyze their viewability data in real-time, and improve the performance of ad units by improving ad viewability for both above the fold and below the fold ad units.

Sign up today and see an immediate increase in your vCPMs!

Frequently asked questions

How to calculate viewability?

Here’s the formula for viewable cost-per-thousand impressions (vcpm): vCPM = Total cost of ad campaign / {(Actual Impressions * Ad Viewability percentage) / 1000}

What is the difference between vCPM and CPM?

CPM is the advertising cost of thousand impressions, regardless of whether the ad was actually viewed by the site visitors. vCPM is the cost of thousand viewable impressions. The ad needs to be actually viewed by the user to be counted as a visible impression here.

If a display ad appears “above the fold” what does it mean?

If a display ad appears “above the fold” this means that it: has more chances of actually being viewed by site visitors. Regardless of whether a user scrolls down the page, above the fold ad units, are always visible.


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