Ad Trafficking 101


What is ad operations?
That's us. Our department is called Ad Operations.
What do you do?
We traffic ads.
How are ads traffic'd?
We submit advertisements (and other materials required) for the campaign to the publishers -via an ad server.
What's an "ad tag"?
When we traffic ads, we send "ad tags" to the publishers.

What's a typical day like in ad operations?

We traffic campaigns, meaning: we send creative tags to the websites (via an ad server). The websites use these tags to publish the ads. The ad ops team uses these tags to track impressions, monitor post-click activities, etc. We also troubleshoot everything we traffic. We make sure everything is running.

What do you need to traffic a campaign?

  1. Campaign name
  2. Campaign dates
  3. Blocking chart, with ad-serving fees calculated
  4. MPA (or IO, or a contract that authorizes this campaign to run and the campaign's advertising costs are approved)
  5. Creatives *
  6. Are these creatives running during the entire campaign, or will we need to make revisions later?
  7. Landing page
  8. Are there unique URLs?
  9. Publisher contacts

* if there are English creatives and French creatives, you will need to create two campaigns on the ad server (one for English, one for French).

This campaign is really urgent, we haven't received MPA, creatives, approval yet.

Please send us everything above (as much as possible), especially the blocking chart. And make sure:

  1. The campaign is pushed to the ad server.
  2. The campaign is correctly pushed to the ad server.
  3. That the campaign in the ad server matches the publishers' IOs.

Is this an ad ops issue?

Yes, very likely * No.
The creative is clicking through to the wrong landing page. The landing page is down. (Ask the creative agency) More info
The tag is running the wrong creative (depends). The tag is running on the wrong website. (Ask the publisher) More info
We have new creatives to add into rotation. The creative has a typo. (Ask the creative agency) More info
This creative is to run 80/20 rotation with another creative, in the same ad tag. Allocate 80% budget/impressions/spend for this creative/channel/etc. and 20% elsewhere. (Work this out with publisher) More info
Please pause Version 1 of the creatives, and allow the other creatives to continue running in the tag Pause this entire campaign/tag. (Publisher will need to pause) More info

* unless the creatives are site-served.

Landing page issues

If the landing page is down, ad ops cannot fix this. You should:

  • Alert the people who sent you the landing page.
  • Find out if it is live yet, if it will be live later?
  • Is there a typo in the landing page?

Wrong creatives / wrong tag / wrong website

Reasons for wrong creatives:

  • Wrong creatives were given to ad ops.
  • Wrong creatives were given to the publishers.
  • The wrong tag is running.

Reasons for wrong tags:

  • Tags do not match the blocking chart, traffic sheet, or IO.
  • The placements in the ad server do not match the IO.
  • Miscommunication.

If the creatives are NOT site-served, the ad ops team can troubleshoot. A test page helps.

New / Revised Creatives

If these creatives are running in the ad tags, we can update the tags to run new creatives (the creative agency must provide this). No new tags needed. However we cannot edit the creatives themselves. We can only update tags. We don't have the tools to edit the creatives, the creative agency has the tools to do so.

Creative Rotation vs. Budget / Impression Allocation

If your plan needs the publisher to control the rotation, for example: the publisher will allocate 80% of total impressions to Rich Media buy and 20% of impressions to Standard Flash buy. Here are the tags they will need:

  • 300x250 tag - rich media
  • 300x250 tag - standard flash

But if publisher doesn't need to control this allocation, they will need instead:

  • 300x250 tag (just one)

Pause a creative / campaign

If in the ad tag, there are two creatives running. We can pause one. The tag will continue to run.

But if the entire tag or campaign needs to be paused, the publishers should pause on their end. The tag/campaign will no longer run.

Do we need to send new tags?

No Yes
New creatives to add into rotation, and they have the same dimensions as old creatives. New creatives to add into rotation, and they have have different dimensions than old creatives.
Landing page changed. Landing page changed and we are using click trackers (sometimes new click trackers are needed).
The creative is not to spec, publisher requires revised creatives. The ad tag is not to spec, publisher requires new tags.
Budget, impressions, clicks, rates were revised. Budget, impressions, clicks, rates were revised. And we're adding new publishers/placements to the campaign.
The campaign dates changed. We don't need new tags, but we will need to update the ad server. We're changing standard tags to impression/click trackers, or vice versa.
We would like to have the vendors site-serve the rich media creatives.

What tags do we need for...

Dimensions Type What does this do?
Facebook ads 1x1 In-Page Impression/click trackers
YouTube TrueView 1x1 In-Page Impression/click trackers
YouTube Forced View In-stream Video VAST Tag
Windows 8 ads 1x1 In-Page Impression/click trackers
XBOX ads Nothing! Sorry, cannot track (yet).
Wallpapers 1x1 In-Page Impression/click trackers
Wallpapers - non-clickable 1x1 In-Page Impression tracker

Types of Tags

Standard Banner Tags

Tags with standard banners (as well as rich media) creatives. These creatives are uploaded into the tags. Whenever revisions are made to creatives, we have to update the tags. We don't need to resend tags when we update creatives.

These tags can run static images, flash, or rich media creatives.


A VAST tag is a video (pre-roll) ad tag. The video is inside the tag. All changes regarding videos in this campaign must be made in the ad server.

With VAST tags, we do not need to send actual video files to the publishers. We only send the tags.

Most publishers are VAST-certified and can serve pre-roll using VAST tags. For the publishers that cannot serve pre-roll using VAST tags (ex. YouTube TrueView), they only use impression/click tags.

The cost of serving videos in VAST tags is different than the cost of impression/click trackers.

Impression / Click Trackers

For everything that cannot use standard tags and VAST tags, we send impression/click trackers. (Here is a list of ads that typically use impression/click trackers.)

Impression trackers are 1x1 ("pixel") size standard tags. This 1x1 pixel will track impressions for whatever ad you want on the page.

A click tracker is actually created separately, but it's built onto the 1x1 impression tag.

Impression/click tracker is one single tag: a 1x1-size tag + click tag.

Together, the impression/click trackers can track impressions and clicks on anything on the page -the publisher has the flexibility to apply them anywhere.