Ad Trafficking – A Primer For Beginners

Updated on: April 7, 2024
If you want to maximize returns from your ad campaigns, a robust ad trafficking strategy is crucial. Here’s why.

Digital advertising, over time, has become a cutting-edge, data-driven industry that relies heavily on automation. Given the complex ecosystem, a framework of coordination, ad management, analysis, and retargeting is needed to achieve the advertising end goal of delivering the right ad to the right person. This process is broadly termed ad trafficking.

What Is Ad Trafficking?

Ad trafficking is the process of creating and setting up an ad campaign in the most efficient manner possible. The ad trafficking is important to maximize ad impressions and get as many visitors to the advertiser’s landing page by triggering a click from the user. This is done with the help of effective creatives, compelling CTAs, and targeted display. 

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

What is an Ad Trafficker?

An ad trafficker is a person in charge of successfully running this campaign, typically with the help of an ad server. They take care of the setup involved in this process as they are expected to have the understanding and skills to attract audiences and trigger a click.

A quick run-down of the Google Ad Manager setup process will help you better understand the tools to streamline campaigns.

Most agencies require ad traffickers to develop 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 must manage the ad server setup, indirect and direct campaigns on the site, and more.

Why Is Ad Trafficking Important?

Publishers want to make the most out of their ad space by increasing targeting and showing relevant ads. This will improve their ad revenue. 

On the other hand, advertisers want to get high clicks and conversions. This will increase their sales and ROI. To achieve both, ad trafficking and ad traffickers are needed to optimize ad campaigns. 

Key Components of Ad Trafficking

The workflow of ad trafficking starts from creative management, ad targeting, and ad delivery management to tracking and reporting. Each task has to be effective to make the campaign successful and profitable.

Ad creative management: The ad trafficking team is responsible for generating and managing ad creative. They test different ad formats to find the ones that perform well and produce the best results. 

Ad targeting: This team is responsible for optimizing ads to relevant groups based on demographics and other data. Targeting is important to reach the correct audience segments and maximize the campaign output. 

Ad delivery: At this step, the team optimizes delivery settings like ad rotations, time of display, frequency capping, etc., to balance user experience and ad fatigue. They optimize it to maximize the ad performance and output.

Tracking and reporting: Ad traffickers utilize tracking mechanisms like pixels, ad tags, etc., to monitor ad performance. They monitor metrics like views, clicks, and conversions to determine the campaign output. The aggregated reporting over time will give useful insights for further campaign improvements. 

Basics of Ad Trafficking

Knowing the end goal before devising a strategy campaign is crucial. It is impossible to head in blind and manage an ad budget effectively. Without a prudent game plan, it is an exercise in failure. And this is where an ad trafficker comes in. 

Here are a few tips that could help ad traffickers devise a solid strategy before execution. 

  1. Think like an advertiser

An ad trafficker needs to form a bridge between advertisers and publishers to mutually decide on the right ad formats that balance visibility and create a clutter-free UI for the visitor. The ad unit details are finalized at the initial stage.

Moreover, to maintain clarity, you must also discuss the CPM rates and placements of the ad. This step initially helps the advertiser set a budget and decide the campaign’s direction. Last but not least, you must include factors that can help you increase the click-through rates and test them to understand the effectiveness of the ads. 

  1. Keep a clear track of outcomes

Regarding programmatic advertising, keeping track of the final results is crucial. This is because the programmatic framework is designed to automate a bulk of daily ad operations for a publisher. As an ad trafficker, you must keep thorough records of your work and the results obtained to improve what you do.

From a publisher’s perspective, using advertiser requests to determine ad placements is a proven way to ensure better fill rates. This way, you can monitor performance statistics after ads are delivered and provide also optimize future campaigns to fit what works. 

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

  1. Take ownership

The role of an ad trafficker is crucial to publishers. Statistics show that 50% of publishers rely on direct-sold and programmatic ads to generate most of their monthly revenue. 

To maximize returns for both ends of the equation, factors such as ad creative, ad placement, and media type are crucial parts of the decision-making process. This helps filter publishers based on their inventory, the CPM, and the right target demographic visiting their website. 

You won’t be able to make an ad work if it has poor creativity. The success of a campaign hinges on how well an ad trafficker can synergize all these components effectively. 

  1. Update your knowledge

Technologies keep changing in the programmatic advertising industry. As an ad trafficker, you are responsible for taking charge and adapting to this change. Besides the basics of ads, you’ll also need to connect with 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 remember. We’ve curated a list to get you started:


  • When you add the orders and line items to the ad server, you must ensure that they match the ad creatives, advertiser or agency, naming conventions, etc. You should also thoroughly check network settings, CPMs, frequency capping, etc.
  • Check the available impressions before booking any campaign for your advertisers.
  • 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.
  • Even after you launch the campaign and put everything in place, you must check the impressions and track the clicks within 1 hour to confirm everything is working well.
  • 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.
  • Prepare weekly automated reports for 1st and 3rd parties to keep reporting in place. After 24 hrs of launching, you should compare your deliverable data with the ad server.
  • Ensure that your campaign delivery is spread throughout the campaign’s duration to ensure even duration.


  • 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.

  • Before making any revisions or optimizations, ensure you have a new ready insertion order beforehand.

  • Always test third-party tags and then serve them.

  • Share your inputs with the agency/advertiser for the creatives rather than rigidly working on them.

  • 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.

  • Get the optimizations approved before making any adjustments to the campaign.

  • Work with the advertiser/agency as an equal partner rather than working for them. Suggest them your inputs proactively in case of under-delivery.

Ad Trafficking Vs. Display Trafficking

Though people often use ad trafficking and display trafficking interchangeably, these terms differ.

Ad trafficking refers to creating ad campaigns from technical aspects such as setting up links for tracking, ensuring placement of ads, collecting and using creatives, etc. 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 on websites. Creative agencies create the ads in display advertising, and then they are planned, placed, and executed in the form of campaigns to get the intended ROI.

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


  1. What is ad trafficking?
    Running an ad campaign from start to finish involves setting up and tracking various moving parts. Ad Trafficking is the brains behind creating and setting up an ad campaign in the most efficient manner possible. 
  2. What is digital media trafficking?
    Digital media trafficking is the process of managing, designing, and delivering ad campaigns to track performance and improve ad revenue. The ad trafficker is responsible for trafficking with media, creative, and ad operations teams. 
  3. How does ad trafficking work?
    Ad trafficking involves determining campaign outcomes and devising a strategy that synergizes ad design, ad copy, budget, audience segments, and more. It involves creating, executing, and optimizing every aspect of an ad campaign from start to finish.

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