June and Q2 COVID Update

Kate Laing COVID-19

As we enter Q3, it becomes crucial to look back and see how the markets are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated downturn of the global economy. In our Q1 update, we broke it down for you both from a month by month perspective and over the quarter as a whole. We followed up with an update for April and May, so here we are with a closer look at June and the trends over the second quarter of the year!


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Looking at June

The markets continued to rebound throughout June with CPM numbers near the end of June coming as close to 2019 values as they have since the pandemic began. 

These market reactions beg the question: Are regular seasonality patterns going to make a return, or are we in a whole new world? No one knows for sure how everything will pan out, but we’re highly encouraged by what we’ve seen from CPM values throughout the month. As in the May update, we credit at least some of the CPM rebound that we’ve seen to the addition of formats like Sponsored Video which have shown incredible CPMs for publishers who use them.

As you can see, display CPMs have definitely seen a recovery over the latter half of the quarter and yet they were outperformed by video CPMs since inception. Video CPMs may have a greater overall variability than display CPMs, but they’re still consistently higher. This is great news for publishers who are taking advantage of video ad slots!


Interested in learning more about Sponsored Video — exclusive to Sortable publishers? Re-considering the addition of Sponsored Video to your tech stack? Get in touch with us at team@sortable.com



Looking at CPM changes by industry (compared to the previous months), values were up across the board with the exception of Science, which saw a 5% decrease in comparison to May.

Looking at the Quarter

The most encouraging data comes from looking at the quarter as a whole with CPMs showing a steady increase across all three months with values basically returning to 2019 levels near the end of June. 

As you can see, COVID-19 had a significant impact on CPM values that were seen at the beginning of the pandemic in April, but there began a steady recovery. From the graph, the majority of that recovery has occurred over the month of June and we remain hopeful that this upward trajectory will continue into July despite usual seasonality trends

Looking at fill rate data from each month, we can see that brands began to start increasing their ad spend across the quarter with fill rates rising dramatically between April and May especially, but also from May to June.

A similar trend can be seen when examining CPM change over the course of the quarter, again ending with the consistent CPM increase we saw in June:

Many folks are saying that we shouldn’t call this a comeback just yet — and we would have to agree, simply because it’s unclear how seasonality will play into the timing of when travel and other restrictions will be loosened. The more things open up and consumers return to normal spending patterns, the more we expect advertisers to begin returning to pre-COVID spending in terms of advertising and marketing campaigns. The continuation (or discontinuation) of COVID assistance programs will likely have an impact on spending patterns as well.  A similar pattern was seen in Asia, which is relatively ahead of the rest of the world in terms of putting the pandemic behind them.

What’s next?

This is the ultimate question as more and more economies begin to recover, but with the United States still experiencing an increase in cases, their economy represents the biggest question mark in the global economic framework. That being said, we remain cautiously optimistic that the recovery we’ve seen, while slow, will remain consistent throughout the next quarter and lead into a truly positive holiday season.

Stay tuned for our next update where we take a look at how the global pandemic has factored into results in July and what role, if any, seasonality has had to play in the patterns that we’re seeing!

Take care,

The Sortable Team