Ad Trafficking – A Primer For Beginners

Updated on: May 3, 2023
Advertising is no less than art in today’s time. You need to be creative, smart, and updated in order to create and execute successful strategies for your campaigns.

Digital advertising is no less than art in today’s time. You need to be creative, smart, and updated in order to create and execute successful strategies for your campaigns. Your advertising campaigns may have creativity but they also need to be placed in the right spot in order to get the visibility that’ll lead to genuine business.

In a world full of ads, publishers and advertisers need to ensure that they catch the attention of the right audience at the right time. And, that’s where ad trafficking comes in. Let’s dive deeper into it.

What is Ad Trafficking?

Ad trafficking is pretty much self-explanatory. It is the process of creating and setting up an ad campaign in the most efficient manner possible. An ad trafficker is a person in charge of successfully running an ad campaign, typically with the help of an ad server.

The aim of the ad trafficker is to maximize the reach and get as many visitors to the advertiser’s landing page by setting up a campaign in the right way. Once the trafficker receives all the ad creatives, he/she works on finalizing the most effective method of setting up the campaign in order to generate maximum impressions and clicks.

When ad trafficking is conducted, several important factors are considered. Some of which are segmentation and targeting options, placement of the creatives, campaign dates, impression volumes, campaign report access, etc.

Make sure you are familiar with the basic setup of Google Ad Manager. Know more about it in this article.

The process of ad trafficking involves setting up an ad campaign strategically along with the selected ad units on the websites that are expected to get the right audiences’ attention. Ad traffickers take care of the setup involved in this process as they are expected to have thorough knowledge, understanding, and skill set to attract audiences and generate conversion.

Note: If you’re working with an agency, you are required to come up with ideas to reach the target audience. For instance, you can partner with a DSP (demand-side platform) or a trading desk to run ads programmatically.

On the other hand, if you’re an AdOps engineer working with a publisher, you are required to manage the ad server setup, indirect and direct campaigns on the site, and more. In this case, you need to be aware of various ad tech jargon and programmatic techniques.

Know-hows of Ad trafficking

In order to make the most out of ad trafficking and utilize it completely, it is extremely important to know the end goals of the advertiser. Ad traffickers, publishers, and advertisers need to work in tandem to achieve the outcomes of successful ad campaigns. As an ad trafficker, you should follow the below-noted rules in order to achieve substantial traffic and intended growth:

1. Get Into the Advertiser’s Shoes

It is important for an ad trafficker to think from an advertiser’s perspective. Based on that, you can mutually decide the ad formats that are expected to increase the engagement rate of ads and finalize it at the initial stage.

Moreover, in order to maintain clarity, you must also discuss the CPM rates and placements of the ad. Completing this step initially helps the advertiser set a budget as well as decide the direction of the campaign. Last but not least, you must include factors that can help you increase the click-through rates and test them in order to understand the effectiveness of the ads. Here’s a detailed guide on how to do it.

2. Keep a Clear Track of Outcomes

When it comes to programmatic advertising, you need to keep a track of the final results of your strategies in order to stand out. As an ad trafficker, you must ensure that you keep thorough records of your work as well as the results obtained from it in order to improve what you do.

It is advisable to keep notes of advertiser’s requests when it comes to ad placements and planning. This way, you can justify the statistics when the ads are delivered and provide better suggestions for upcoming campaigns for them. In the end, you’ll be judged on your performance so you must develop and maintain the habit of keeping copies of instructions and outcomes so as to avoid any chances of miscommunication when results arrive.

Tip: If you’re running ads via Google Ad Manager, the reporting feature is helpful in providing insights into the performance of your ad campaigns.

3. Take Ownership

Though your role as an ad trafficker makes a lot of difference in your advertiser’s success, you’re not the only one responsible. In order for an ad to be successful, many aspects such as ad creative, ad placement, media type, etc. are taken into factor. Make sure your advertiser has an understanding of it.

You won’t be able to make an ad work if it has poor creative. In case you come across such problems, make sure that you contact your advertisers and suggest changes and variables that affect the ad performance. Your role is to make the best out of an ad and in order to achieve this, you must have support from the advertiser and creative team.

4. Update Your Knowledge

Technologies keep changing in the programmatic advertising industry. As an ad trafficker, it is your responsibility to take charge and adapt to this change. Other than the basics of ads, you’ll also need to connect with different creative people such as designers and copywriters and understand their mindset.

Networking with like-minded people via social networks and attending seminars on digital technology can also be a great step in learning about the latest updates. Educate yourself and adapt to the habit of learning new things.

Do and Don’ts of Ad Trafficking

When working on ad trafficking, there is a certain set of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind. We’ve curated a list to get you started:


  1. When you add the orders and line items into the ad server, you need to ensure that they clearly match with the ad creatives, advertiser or agency, naming conventions, etc. You should also keep a thorough check of network settings, CPMs, frequency capping, etc.
  2. Check the available impressions before booking any campaign for your advertisers.
  3. It is important to check the campaigns before taking them live. Therefore, you should always keep an identical test environment that resembles your original website for testing purposes.
  4. Even after you launch the campaign and put everything in place, you must check the impressions and track the clicks within 1 hour in order to confirm that everything is working well.
  5. After launching and checking, immediately take screenshots and share them with the advertiser or agency. Also, act proactively in figuring out the ups and downs of the campaigns and share with the advertiser or agency for optimization suggestions.
  6. In order to keep reporting in place, prepare weekly automated reports for 1st and 3rd parties. After 24 hrs of launching, you should compare your deliverable data with the ad server.
  7. Make sure that your campaign delivery is spread throughout the duration of the campaign so as to ensure even duration.


  1. Handle campaigns on your own and run them manually. Do not put them on the “auto-pilot” mode just to save some time and effort. 
  2. Before making any revisions or optimizations, ensure that you have a new ready insertion Order beforehand. 
  3. Always test third-party tags and then serve them. 
  4. Make sure to share your inputs with the agency/advertiser for the creatives rather than working on them in a rigid manner. 
  5. Always set up campaigns in full detail. It is not a good idea to go for shortcuts such as grouping orders and impressions as they increase the chances of mishaps and affect the overall performance. 
  6. Get the optimizations approved before making any adjustments in the campaign.
  7. Work with the advertiser/agency as an equal partner rather than working for them. Suggest them your inputs proactively in case of under-delivery.
  8. Make sure that the creatives don’t impact the user experience in a negative way.

Ad trafficking Vs. Display trafficking

Though people often use ad trafficking and display trafficking interchangeably, these two terms are different from each other.

Ad trafficking refers to a process of creating ad campaigns from technical aspects such as setting up links for tracking, ensuring placement of ads, collecting and using creatives, etc. In order to perform ad trafficking, an ad server or advertising platform is used. The process isn’t limited to any particular format here. 

On the other hand, display trafficking involves setting up banner ads that are displayed on websites. The ads in display advertising are created by creative agencies and then they are planned, placed, and executed in the form of campaigns in order to get the intended ROI.

Now that you’re done with the basics, here’s something you need to know: no one (advertisers and publishers) is looking to hire a person just to set up ads. You need to be well-versed in ad servers, SSPs, DSPs, Trade desks, ad exchanges, ad networks, etc. Take initiatives, proactively work towards the goals, and keep up with what’s happening in ad tech.

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