Industry Insights
Sorting through a Cornucopia of Ad Networks to Monetize, with Sortable

brenden-sherratt-sortableBrenden Sherratt
Digital Marketer



For those of us that aren’t familiar with Sortable, please tell us a little more about your offering and audience.

Sortable helps publishers generate greater revenue. We use data and machine learning to automate the ad operations process. Our Ad Engine analyzes every single ad impression, looking at geo, device type, session depth, speed and bid, then makes a real time decision on which ad networks should fill.

Our goal is to make ads suck less for publishers, so they can focus on creating great content.

Check out our explainer video:


How does this type of mediation help publishers maximize yield? 

Every user is worth a different amount to a publisher, and our goal is to unearth that value in real time and craft the right monetization strategy.  Sortable can adjust ad layout, ad partners, ad type (display, native, content units, video, cpc, cpa) and bid floors in real time.  So we maximize the chance that the publisher makes the most per user which drives site yield up dramatically.


Based off the data you’ve seen working with dozens of publishers, what are some of the best performing ad units by content vertical?

We see no correlation across publishers between ad units and vertical – there is different demand per vertical and there is different demand per ad size but no vertical seems to have unique demand per ad unit.


There are so many monetization solutions out there, that it’s difficult to know which ones work best, without testing. How does Sortable help to streamline this process for publishers?

We manage all the relationships and use the right solution in real time per user.  Because we make it easy for demand partners to reach a wide audience regardless of technology, they are eager to do custom integrations with us, allowing us to easily deploy new features, functionality and betas to hundreds of publishers at once with little to no work on their part.


From your unique view, what do you think the revenue breakout for a medium-sized publisher is, between direct-sold ads, and revenue coming from ad networks/exchanges?

For medium sized publisher, it really depends on the vertical. We sometimes see 70/30 direct to programmatic to 100% programmatic.


What are your thoughts on header bidding?

We love header bidders, and recently published a study based on a test we ran of 6 popular header bidders and how they performed on some of our sites.


To the extent that you can share, which ad networks or exchanges have performed well for each content category or geo? 

Over 90% of our traffic is US based but, so we do have some insights.  There are many old school ad networks with strong performance in non-US geos that are worthwhile building relationships with for specific campaigns, but from a remnant standpoint.  Tribal Fusion, for instance, is able to perform strongly in Great Britain, bRealTime has surprisingly strong performance in Canada and Sonobi is strong in Australia.


How do you think the pausing of flash ads, and the rise of HTML5 (with it’s much larger file size), will affect publishers and the ad industry?

Anything with larger file sizes is anti-user, and that’s the biggest problem the industry has right now.  I don’t think that specifically html5 vs flash will be an issue, other than being a pain for some period. 


Lastly, how do you envision the future of online web publisher monetization?

Generally we’re not hopeful. Publishers have been pushed around because none of them are large or technically sophisticated enough to make a difference.  The Google’s and Facebook’s of the the world will continue to drive the outcomes because they have sufficient scale.  That’s why our intent is very simple, to give publishers a voice.  Put them under one roof at scale, in a demand agnostic way, advocate on their behalf, give them tools, give them technology and put the power back in their hands, so that we can ultimately clean things up, satisfy users, and get publishers paid.  We really have a tragedy of the commons where we’re all going to destroy things for ourselves if we can’t get our act together.



Sortable is one of the fastest growing startups in Canada, we’re a group of passionate people solving hard problems.

Building upon our publishing roots our Ad Optimization Engine helps online publishers make more money from their ads allowing them to focus on creating great content for their website. Our system uses machine learning to discover which ads will pay the most and algorithmically decides in real time what to do.

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