In a nutshell

  • Estimates suggest a YouTube video with 20 million views will earn between $60K and $100K in AdSense revenue for the creator
  • The amount advertisers pay depends on a number of factors, including industry, ad format and the demand for specific ad placements
  • Remember that it can be incredibly difficult to generate 20 million video views, so be sure to keep expectations realistic

Monetizing your channel through Google AdSense is not the only way to make money on YouTube, but it is one of the most popular. But how much can you really make on YouTube through AdSense alone? How much money will 20 million views on YouTube actually get you?

To answer this, let’s first take a look at how the AdSense monetization system works.

What the heck is AdSense?

The idea is simple. Once your channel qualifies for the YouTube Partner Program, you can sign up for monetization. Then, YouTube will run advertisements alongside your content, generating ad views and revenue. YouTube creators receive 55 percent of the ad revenue generated through channel views, while YouTube keeps the other 45 percent.

The amount of revenue generated depends on the amount advertisers pay to run their ads. One common way to measure this amount is CPM, or Cost Per Mille — Latin (and marketing-speak) for cost per thousand. In this case, an advertiser agrees to pay YouTube a certain amount for every 1,000 views their ad receives. YouTube, in turn, pays creators 55 percent of that rate. Say an advertiser agrees to pay a CPM of $1. That means, for every 1,000 times the ad is viewed on your channel, YouTube gets $1, keeps $0.45 and gives you $0.55.

What influences advertising costs?

This appears straightforward, but keep in mind that ad rates change based on industry, format, ad placement and the advertiser’s goals. Plus, YouTube’s bidding system means advertising rates can vary significantly based on how much demand there is for specific ad placements on different types of content and even individual YouTube channels.

Also remember that revenue is tied to ad views, not views in general. If a viewer isn’t shown the ad, skips the ad or uses an ad blocker, your channel won’t generate revenue from that view. On the other hand, one video may contain multiple ads, thus generating multiple ad views for a single video view. Plus, in addition to CPM, advertisers can also choose to pay YouTube in terms of cost per view (CPV), cost per click (CPC), cost per action (CPA) or return on ad spend (ROAS), depending on their goals and advertising budget.

All of this makes it more difficult to accurately correlate channel or video views to earned revenue.

Ok, but how much money can you make?

To keep things simple, we used the example of $1 per 1,000 views, but Social Media Examiner estimates the actual CPM advertisers pay to be much higher: from $20 to $1,000 in the most sought-after niches. After YouTube takes its cut, Intuit mintlife reports you can make anywhere between $0.01 to $0.03 per ad view with AdSense, with the average YouTube making around $18 per 1,000 ad views.

Remember, though, that 1,000 ad views do not equal 1,000 video views. Intuit estimates that YouTubers usually make $3 to $5 per 1,000 video views. Likewise, Forbes estimates that some of YouTube’s biggest stars make about $5 per 1,000 views.

So how much money can you make from 20 million views on YouTube? Leaning into the upper end of the scale, we can estimate that 20 million video views would generate up to $100,000 in AdSense revenue for the creator. Even at the low end of the scale, you can still expect to earn around $60,000. And that’s after YouTube takes their 45 percent.

How can you maximize AdSense earnings?

While you don’t have much control over the amount that advertisers are willing to pay to run ads on YouTube, you can increase your chances for a higher payout with a few smart strategies. First, you can do your best to make quality content that viewers want to watch. This will attract more advertisers, increasing competition and boosting ad rates.

Another way to maximize ad revenue per video view is to make longer videos. This creates more room for additional ad placements, allowing you to collect more ad views per video view. Longer videos can also lead to increased watch time for your channel as a whole. YouTube rewards this with a higher ranking in the algorithm. Just make sure not to stretch your videos with unengaging fluff. This will only turn away viewers and decrease viewer retention rates for your channel.

What can you really expect?

As you daydream about the money you’ll make from your new YouTube channel, remember that getting 20 million views on a video is extremely difficult. Even top YouTube creators can struggle to reach that milestone. For example, T-Series, the top channel on YouTube in terms of both subscribers and views, averages only 11.5 million views per video. It’s important to keep expectations realistic.