In the online advertising context, traffic shaping refers to filtering of the traffic, which doesn’t match a set of quality benchmarks or other determined criteria.
How Traffic Shaping Works
Quite predictably, the notion of traffic shaping isn’t new to the digital ad industry. However, unlike in the past years, when filtering of ad requests was mostly handled by SSPs and DSPs, prior to passing those to advertisers, this is rapidly changing.
Namely, in the recent months, gradually more publishers are shifting their focus to handling the traffic shaping activities on their side, either by developing their in-house functional capabilities, or implementing a third-party tech solution.
In this respect, the process can take different forms, including the following:
- filtering of ad requests by bidder/SSP, specifically if they’re performing poorly (low fill rate), or sending bids below the publisher’s price floor on a continuous basis;
- switching off ads on idle placements, i.e. poorly performing placements, e.g. on inactive webpages, which wouldn’t demonstrate satisfactory results in terms of viewability and audience engagement, and many more.
Potential Benefits vs. Challenges
One of the most noticeable drawbacks of traffic shaping is the reduction of the actually sent publishers’ ad requests, which frequently leads to lower ad revenue, at least in the short-term perspective.
At the same time, a share of premium publishers admit that the adoption of in-house traffic shaping can help increase the actual ad viewability in the active ad placements (and completion rates for video ads, too), hence helping them to acquire/maintain exclusive partnerships with premium advertisers/agencies.
In addition, the placement optimization improves the overall website performance, which not only enhances the overall user experience, but also enables publishers to increase the sustainability of their online ad practices, hence working in favor of their reputation as forward-thinking Supply partners, too.