The digital advertising world is broad. There are multiple ways in which advertisers can reach potential customers and in which publishers can monetize their websites.
This complexity has led to the necessity of creating tools and strategies in order to manage all advertising processes. Ad trafficking is part of that.
Ad trafficking is a process that allows ad campaigns to be strategically planned, implemented, and optimized.
The global digital advertising market is still growing and is projected to reach $786.2 billion by 2026. At the same time, digital media is projected to dominate more than two-thirds of marketing budgets this year.
As a publisher, this is good news for you. With investments in digital media on the rise, there are a lot of opportunities out there.
This article is designed to help you understand ad trafficking and the processes behind it, which should help you run campaigns more efficiently.
What Is Ad Trafficking?
Ad trafficking is the process of designing and setting up ad campaigns and involves both marketing and technical aspects.
With digital ad trafficking, the process usually involves the creation and strategic placement of banner ads. But it can also involve pop-up ads, interstitials, or other ads that appear when consumers visit a website.
The process of ad trafficking is supposed to maximize the reach of an ad to get as many visitors as possible to the advertiser’s landing page. For this purpose, several factors are considered when setting up a campaign: segmentation, targeting, campaign dates, ads or banner placement, etc.
What Is an Ad Trafficker?
An ad trafficker is the person who is in charge of running a particular ad campaign, usually with the help of an ad server. Essentially, an ad trafficker is a person responsible for the success of the ad trafficking process.
The ad trafficker works to optimize ad processes in order to maximize the number of impressions and, implicitly, clicks to a campaign. Usually, the ad trafficker will receive the creatives from the creative team, after which they will work on identifying and implementing the most effective method of setting up the campaign.
Why Is Ad Trafficking Important?
Ad trafficking is important because it helps advertisers and publishers alike reach their goals:
- Advertisers want to have their ads viewed by a large number of people;
- Publishers want to make the most out of their ad space, while ensuring good results for advertisers.
Ad trafficking processes have grown in importance over time. That is due to the fact that digital advertising has become more complex and the advertising space has become more competitive.
From this perspective, it is important to optimize every aspect of the digital ad trafficking process.
How Does Ad Trafficking Work?
The goal of the digital ad trafficking process is to create a media plan and prepare a digital media campaign for activation.
There are several components necessary for this process: the creative assets, the trafficking instructions, and the ad server configuration and tag generation.
These components often involve different teams: a creative team, the media operations team, and ad operations. While team members will overlap in some organizations, we will simplify the processes involved by referring to the three teams mentioned above.
The Creative Process
The creative elements (images, copy, etc.) are generated by the creative team. These are then sent to the media team or loaded onto the ad servers.
Once the creatives are done, they are usually forwarded to a media team, which is responsible for the campaign implementation. This involves sticking with a pre-defined media plan.
Depending on the preferred advertising methods, several steps follow. For example, placements must be created and configured. The campaign and the placements are pushed to the ad server. The campaign data and placements are correlated with the trafficking instructions documentation. During this step, creative assets are assigned to each ad placement in the trafficking instructions.
The media team provides the instructions, along with the creative assets to the ad operations team for implementation on the ad server.
The Operations Process
As the last step, the ad ops team implements the trafficking instructions, proceeds to generate tags, and distributes them to publishers and/or media teams to implement in the ad buying platforms for activation.
How to Get Started With Ad Trafficking?
If you want to reap the benefits of ad trafficking, you need to understand its components and how they interact. Here are three necessary steps you need to follow:
The first step is making sure you have access to the necessary tools. We may be talking about Google AdSense or other third-party ad networks.
Depending on your ad strategy, you may also need access to some of the best ad servers, ad exchanges, and supply-side platforms (SSPs). Advertisers may need to set up access to their demand side platform (DSP).
Once you have chosen your ad infrastructure, make sure your accounts are set up. Google AdSense, for example, is pretty easy to set up and also gives you access to Google Ad Manager.
Ad Campaigns Settings
Implementing a campaign will involve following the processes previously discussed. Before setting it up, you need to clear the creatives, choose the placement and targeting, set up the technical specifications, etc.
Reporting and Optimization
When your end goal is to optimize for impressions and maximize ad impact, reporting is crucial.
This is important so that both the ad trafficker and the advertiser can make changes to any aspect of the campaign that isn’t performing. For example, reporting can help you confirm impressions according to your targets.
3 Tips to Manage Ad Trafficking Effectively
Now that we have discussed what ad trafficking is and how it works, let's also talk about how publishers and those directly responsible—ad traffickers—can approach it better.
1. Think Like an Advertiser
As a publisher, you need to be able to understand the advertisers' (or agencies') wants and needs, in order to provide them with the best environments for their ads.
This will help you decide on the ad formats that can increase the engagement rate, as well as other crucial campaign details like CPM rates and placements.
2. Monitor Everything
You need to keep track of your final results to make sure you can improve your work—for the benefit of the advertisers, as well as your own.
For example, you should take note of the advertisers' requests when it comes to ad placements. Also, make sure you can justify the statistics for the delivered ads.
At the same time, don't forget to test everything before sending your campaigns to a live environment. Once it is live, the metrics are there to stay.
3. Take Ownership of Advertising Campaigns
The ad trafficker isn't the only one who is responsible for campaign performance. For example, you cannot ensure campaign performance with low-quality creatives.
While this is not entirely in your control, you can contact the creative team or the advertiser to provide suggested optimizations.
Do's and Don'ts of Ad Trafficking
As with all things digital and marketing, ad trafficking can succeed or fail.
Here are some tips and tricks on what you should and shouldn't do for campaign efficiency.
- Program the delivery of ads evenly during the entire duration of the campaign, unless otherwise instructed.
- Take screenshots and share them with the agency or advertiser. This will make them feel confident that their campaigns are taken care of.
- Track and evaluate campaign performance and provide performance optimization suggestions.
- Check that the IO (insertion order) is matched by the line item data and orders (naming conventions, line item values, CPMs, creative, etc).
- Check available inventory before booking any campaigns.
- Check priorities and campaign specifics, especially when running multiple indirect partners.
- Compare deliverable data with the ad server after campaign launch.
- Check the creative assets and make sure they match the specifications. The creative elements should be relevant to the campaign and approved by the advertiser.
- Don't let a campaign run on “auto-pilot”.
- Don't make revisions or optimizations without a new IO.
- Don't serve third-party tags without previous testing.
- Don't assume the creative assets match the specifications; double-check everything before using.
- Don't try any workarounds, like grouping line items or orders, when setting up a campaign; this may sometimes do more harm than good.
- Don't implement optimizations before getting approval.
- Don't set up an interstitial or pop-up without setting up frequency capping.
What Is the Difference Between Ad Trafficking and Display Advertising?
Display advertising is a form of paid online advertising used to attract and eventually convert a certain audience. Display advertising targets the audience of a website, social media platform, app, or another digital medium.
Ad trafficking, meanwhile, involves setting up ad campaigns from both a marketing and technical perspective. It involves setting up links for tracking, choosing the placement of ads, using the creatives, etc.
Ad trafficking may involve display advertising campaigns, but it does not necessarily work the other way around. You can use display advertising without considering ad trafficking.
In the intricate landscape of online advertising, ad trafficking offers a more thorough way of managing digital ads.
It adds complexity to the campaign design process, but it also offers advertisers the opportunity to maximize their efforts and stay relevant in an ever-challenging digital market.
Publishers that understand the driving forces behind the ad trafficking process, meanwhile, are better positioned to meet the needs of their demand-side partners.
Publift helps digital publishers get the most out of the ads on their websites. Publift has helped its clients realize an average 55% uplift in ad revenue since 2015, through the use of cutting-edge programmatic advertising technology paired with impartial and ethical guidance.
Contact us today to learn more about how Publift can help boost your ad revenue and grow your business!