Long story short, I run a website where users upload their own content. Photos and videos. Everything is posted directly to an AWS S3 Bucket, then propagated out to a CDN. I have users all over the world...telling me their content loads fast. Good.
Until recently I was getting a few tens of thousands of requests per day on my CDN. Then I saw a spike in traffic and my CloudFront CDN cost exploded to over $120 per month. I only recently put ads on my website and they earn me about 2 cents per 1,000 impressions. This does not add up.
I've heard that Youtube actually loses money but Google uses it to produce original content and collect advertising data, so it's worth it to them.
How does any other site function like this, without getting major sponsors or deals? Is Imgur profitable? Vimeo? Reddit?
If you have any light to shine on my problem, I'd love to hear you out.
I have some experience running a video platform and finding out how hard it is to maximize rpm. Video sites aren't targeting any specific profitable niche. And so add networks have to display a general click through camain and hope that your traffic leads to sales. Though I do think you can get your rpm up much higher than the 2 cents. It may be difficult for this number to go much over $1/1000 unless you're running video ads in between watch duration.
If you do have loyal users though, that means they're willing to spend their money with you. They trust your brand. Perhaps you'll have to figue out hope to monetize them.
The server costs of running a video site can certainly get out of control if you're hosting the video files.
One of the first things a site like yours has to do is solve server costs or you could crumble. You have one of the highest server requirement type of websites on the web.