Contributed by Noah Everist, Director, Account Strategy at Goodway Group
What is Sourced Traffic?
Sourced traffic is any method by digital media sellers to get visitors via third parties, and the tactic is commonly used to reach audience guarantees for digital ad campaigns, also commonly known as audience extension.*
Marketers Unaware of Sourced Traffic Issues
Many clients and advertisers take deals with direct sites at face value as they are not aware of this inventory procurement method. Per eMarketer, only about 40% of clients are familiar with the concept of sourced traffic, and over 50% of clients do not know if sourced traffic is part of their buys. This hampers knowing what inventory is actually, and actually not, providing results for their campaigns. Per an ANA and White Ops study, sourced traffic was estimated to be 52% fraudulent, about 5x more than all digital traffic. High-profile and well-known sites were not immune to this phenomenon.**
Protecting Yourself—Buyer Beware
- Read the agreements. If you work with publishers directly, read the agreements. Understand how they go about audience extension or source third-party traffic, and ask about how they prevent fraud. Negotiate that they will not source traffic, or that they will disclose what traffic they are sourcing.
- Be skeptical. If a site with a small audience sends you guaranteed impressions that seem way too big of a number for them to fulfill, they are probably using sourced traffic.
- Demand transparency. Don’t be afraid to look through the third-party ad server reporting. Chances are, if they are not transparent, something is being hidden for a reason.
- Utilize outside resources. Be sure that you utilize a third-party fraud partner. And measure viewability!
- Align your goals. Set your goals as deep within your purchase funnel as possible. This helps protect against fraud and improves campaign performance.
- Include a human element. Don’t completely trust the computers; have a skilled trader analyze your traffic flow.
- Work within the system. If their sourced traffic is appropriate for your target/goals, continue to monitor and negotiate a better price on that traffic.
How Goodway Can Help
Transparency. It’s your data, and you should be able to see it. We hold our inventory partners to the same standards. Human Involvement. Goodway has over 70 media traders who supervise and optimize campaigns. Third-Party Ad Server and Viewability Measurement. Goodway partners with best-in-class companies in both categories. Lower Funnel Goals. Goodway encourages clients to provide goals as deep within the purchase funnel as possible. Fraud Protection. We work with many partners and even help our DSPs root out fraud.
Noah is a 15-year agency veteran who brings his deep cross-channel and cross-vertical media experience to the digital table. He co-created an agency trading desk, leading a trading team into the real-time-bidding environment before it was an industry-accepted practice. As a member of the sales-enablement team, he lives on the front lines of the digital world providing our clients holistic strategy recommendations, insightful research, and in-depth analysis and evangelizing all things programmatic. You can find him in an airport near you on his way to a client meeting.