May COVID-19 Update – Current Trends

Kate Laing Ad Monetization

Publishers and marketers alike have been laser-focused on the market and current trends as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as promised — we’re here to give you the latest update based on real-time data from our publishers here at Sortable. If you missed our Q1 update or the April update, be sure to check them out!

May CPM data

Here at Sortable, May was a big month. We saw an incredible recovery in CPM values for our publishers, with numbers approaching what they were in early March — what we are calling ‘pre-COVID’. Like others in the industry, overall we’re seeing lower CPM values compared to 2019 and what we would have expected to see based on seasonal increases, but the results are encouraging. 

Is this just markets doing what markets do? Or have the changes we’ve made actually made a difference? We implemented Sortable Video in the middle of May and have continued rolling it out to our publishers — with impressive results. We’ve seen an amazing capacity for CPM recovery with publishers who’ve chosen to implement Sortable Video.


Have questions about Sortable Video? Make sure to reach out to your Customer Success representative! Not sure who to reach out to? Try success@sortable.com — someone there will be able to help you!


Taking a look at Sortable Video CPMs compared to typical display programmatic values since the roll out in mid-May, it’s evident that video is the clear winner — and publishers are reaping the rewards.

Indeed, even when looking at the data comparing Sortable Video to other video sources, you can see that Sortable Video is a huge asset, and outperforms other sources by approximately 220%.  

So while markets are definitely starting to show what we suspect will be a slow return to pre-COVID CPM levels, we also think it’s reasonable to attribute at least some of the CPM value increase we’ve seen thus far to this new option we’ve made available to our publishers.

CPMs by vertical

CPM values by industry comparing April and May spending trends are perhaps indicative of new consumer priorities as the world has changed. Family & Parenting saw the biggest gains as many families got the news in May that school was out for the summer, and it may look quite different when and if regular classes return in September. The News vertical did predictably well given the current COVID-19 focus and the socio-political climate both at home and abroad. Most interesting in May was the increase seen in the Travel industry — likely a result of some countries having begun to lift travel bans and people feeling a little bit of quarantine fatigue setting in. 

What’s to come?

As always, we’re not fortune-tellers and no one really knows how to predict the way the markets are going to rebound. Given May’s fairly consistent CPM gains, we remain cautiously optimistic about what’s to come, both as we close out Q2 and look forward to Q3. It remains to be seen what will become of the normally highest selling season based on seasonality, but rest assured we’ll be keeping you apprised as we move forward!

Take care,

The Sortable Team


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