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Covid-19 impact on News Sites

Dealing with COVID-19 Crisis – A Publisher’s Guide

COVID-19 crisis has adversely impacted the media industry and publishers across the globe are trying to sustain their revenue and weather the fallout from the outbreak. Regardless of your audience geo, niche, and the historical revenue numbers, you’ll see the impact of COVID-19 on the bottom line.

At Automatad, we tend to proactively work with publishers to minimize the impact and prevent the revenue from steeply declining over time. If you read our blog, you also know that we believe in sharing the results and strategies with the community — resulting in a better ecosystem.

So, here we are with a list of interesting data and proven techniques to help you navigate the crisis. We’ll regularly update the page so that you can keep yourself informed. Let’s win together. Again.

First things first.

What’s the Impact of COVID-19 on eCPM?

Even with the increasing volume of impressions and influx of new users, revenues aren’t improving as expected. Why?


The increase in traffic doesn’t mean the demand will also increase. Well, in the usual times, it might happen, but not now or anytime soon. So, we wanted to see how the eCPMs are getting impacted across the major geographies  — U.S, U.K, India, Germany, and UAE. We believe it will help you compare and prepare yourself. Because some are showing signs of improvement.

Here’s how the eCPM is varying from one month to another amid the crisis.

Now that you understand the trend, the next step is to work towards mitigation. How can you sustain the revenue while the eCPM is decreasing and advertisers are pulling out the campaigns? That’s a tricky question and as you have guessed, you can’t replace the lost revenue with a single alternative.

Minimizing the Impact on Ad Revenue

We have discussed how the advertisers optimize their campaigns (via DSPs) to avoid coronavirus-related content and what you can do to minimize the impact on ad revenue. From leveraging in-stream video ads to changing GAM setup, here’s an extensive list of actionable strategies.

1. Leverage Video
2. Get Yourself Whitelisted
3. Focus on the Right Categories
4. Run Direct Deals
5. Regain Adblock Users
6. Get the Basics Right
7. Optimize GAM Setup
8. Maximize Fill Rate
9. Advanced Ad Refresh
10. Bid Caching
11. Content Recommendation
12. Optimize Demand Partners
13. Capture First-party Data
14. Push Commerce Content
15. Market Yourself

Sounds interesting? We thought so. For detailed implementation and insights, head to this page. We’ll keep it updated as we find new ways to tackle the crisis.

Keyword Blacklisting

Because of COVID-19 content, brands are blocking ads on even the premium sites like The New York Times, CNN and USA Today. The blockage was in the range of 35% to 70%. And now the term “coronavirus” is the most blocked keyword. So yes, you are not the only one suffering from keywords blacklisting.

What’s the solution? As an industry, we haven’t framed a structure to help us deal with this very problem. With blacklisting in its full swing, publishers have taken measures to get the best out of brand-safe content. Some of them might work for your site. You can take a look and decide your next move.

Keyword Blacklisting

While COVID-19 affected publishers from several niches, news sites are the ones facing substantial drop in revenue. On one hand, there’s an uplift in traffic, but on the other, eCPM/demand is declining everyday. So, we studied how news publishers are dealing with the fallout.

How Local News Publishers are Tackling the Issue?

According to a survey conducted by IAB, nearly 88% of publishers had to cancel their advertising campaigns and 86% of publishers have been asked to pause the campaigns for an indefinite period of time. Gorden Borell, one of the advertising markets analyst, stated that local advertising will drop by 25% this year, as restaurants, bars, and other local businesses shutter temporarily and pull back spending.

That’s being said, local news sites are figuring out different ways to keep the communities informed and sustain the revenue. How? By leveraging the situation.

Without any further ado, let’s see how smart news publishers are leveraging the spike in traffic to come up with the products and build relationships.

COVID-19: Top headlines

The team at Aori has curated top industry headlines related to COVID-19 and it’s being updated regularly to help advertisers/publishers to keep up with the news. If you want to know what’s happening in the advertising space, just take a look at the feed of news.


We typically curate and find the fix for the important ad operations issues via “Ad Ops Quick Fix“. As we are receiving specific questions related to the current scenario, we began to answer them as well.

How to Find the Pages with a Specific Keyword Like “Coronavirus”?

What Changes Can be Done on the Site to Deal with COVID-19 Crisis?

How to Increase the Matched Requests Amidst the Crisis?

How to Optimize Floor Price at the Moment?

Should You Cover COVID-19 News While Buyers Actively Use Keyword Blacklisting?