July COVID Update

Kate Laing Sortable Updates

As promised, we’re here with the latest installment in our COVID update series, designed to keep you and our publishers up to date on the latest traffic, CPM value and other trends we’ve been seeing since the rise of the pandemic. If you haven’t already, check out the other articles in our series, from our Q1 update, April and May updates, through to our June/Q2 update. Our goal is to keep you in the know so you can make the decisions you need to in order to maximize your revenue during tough times.

The good news is, July looks a lot like June did with a continued recovery in many metrics across the board. The gap is slowly closing for pre-COVID CPM values, fill-rates are returning to normal, and we’re approaching an even keel with year-over-year comparisons to 2019. It’s important to note that some verticals were impacted more than others and thus, recovery periods may vary from vertical to vertical. All-in-all the economic recovery appears to be underway. Let’s take a look at some of the specifics.

Year-over-Year CPM Comparison

With the typical beginning of the month decrease expected by seasonal spending patterns, the month of July shows some signs of recovery when looking at CPMs from 2019 to 2020. Given that there was no Amazon Prime Day this year (July 15th in 2019), the fact that CPMs were this healthy in mid-July this year is actually quite impressive. Barring a resurgence of the virus and any other twists and turns that this year can throw our way, we hope the slow market rebound continues into the election season, as well as the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. 

CPM by industry

Note: CPM dollars have been converted to percentages to protect our publisher’s privacy.

As financial markets begin to rebound, advertising dollars are following as the economy opens up and consumer spending patterns slowly return to pre-COVID norms, we’re seeing predictable increases in the fields of Careers, Real Estate, Business and Sports as indicated in the graph above. We expect that as the news coverage around the upcoming election in the United States ramps up that Law, Government & Politics will receive a conservative CPM bump as well. Though it will be interesting to see how CPMs are affected by the upcoming election as more and more outlets are cracking down on political ad content, and more brands are seeing politics as an issue for brand safety. 

Fill rate by industry is seeing some improvements too, with very few industries falling below the 70% mark. Interestingly enough, the three that did fall below that threshold (Hobbies & Interests, Society, and Science) may indicate subject matter fatigue given how much has been consumed while quarantine orders were more strict and more time was spent online while at home.

A continued source of increased revenue for Sortable publishers has been the availability of Sponsored Video — a Sortable exclusive, video ad format that competes with display and demands significantly higher CPMs, without the need for an increased ad density on-page. Our publishers owe at least some of their new ad monetization success in the wake of COVID-19 to the availability of this new format — and of course, our amazing Customer Success Team for helping them implement it seamlessly on their site!


Are you a Sortable publisher that initially opted out of the Sortable Video format — and have changed your mind? Get in touch with your Customer Success Team representative, or email hello@sortable.com and we’ll be happy to discuss getting that set up for you. Not a Sortable publisher yet? Not to worry. Schedule a demo with one of our Sales team and see how we can get you up and running today.


As restrictions are beginning to ease around the globe, and markets are starting to recover in earnest, we’re excited to see publishers seeing the kind of success that they need to keep their businesses thriving during this time of uncertainty. Of course, we’ll be continuing to keep you up to date regarding the most recent trends, but given the current state of affairs, these COVID updates will likely be quarterly from now on!

Take care,

The Sortable Team