What is Traffic Shaping? How to make sustainable revenue from it?

October 10, 2023 | by Aleesha Jacob

Traffic shaping has been a cornerstone strategy employed by supply-side platforms (SSPs) and demand-side platforms (DSPs) to optimize the quality of programmatic ad inventory. While this technique has traditionally been in the domain of these platforms, an emerging trend sees forward-thinking publishers taking the reins.

Publishers today are revolutionizing the AdTech landscape by embracing traffic shaping. By proactively refining their ad inventory, they’re positioning only their crème de la crème for sale, ensuring higher bid request successes. Let’s dive deeper into what Traffic Shaping actually is and how it can help you below.

Traffic Shaping Explained: The Evolution of Ad Requests

Traffic shaping refers to the strategic process by which publishers meticulously decide which ad requests are dispatched to intermediaries like SSPs (Supply-Side Platforms). At its core, it’s about making ad transactions more efficient and targeted.

Historically, the heavy lifting of traffic shaping was shouldered by SSPs and DSPs (Demand-Side Platforms). They systematically filtered ad requests based on location, browsers, and devices, ensuring that only the most relevant and likely-to-succeed requests were processed.

However, the narrative is evolving. Today, publishers are not just passive participants. With advancements in technology and tools, many are either developing in-house capabilities or leveraging solutions offered by AdTech industry pioneers, like MonetizeMore. This shift allows publishers to proactively filter and diminish the volume of ad requests, streamlining the programmatic pipeline and ensuring a more efficient ad exchange.

Kean Graham, CEO of MonetizeMore, articulates this shift as a significant evolution in the advertising ecosystem. He says, “We’re witnessing a transformative phase where publishers are not just bystanders but active players, gaining unprecedented access to ad request controls. Many of our publishers who’ve tried Traffic Shaping echo a similar sentiment. By strategically curating our bid requests for SSPs, we’re not just boosting our bottom line. It’s about evolving into an indispensable ally, alleviating the burden of filtering through sub-optimal requests.”

For these publishers, the goal transcends mere revenue enhancement – it’s about cementing robust, streamlined collaborations in the programmatic advertising arena. This strategic approach ensures that every ad request holds more value, promising a brighter future when it comes to maximizing ad revenue.

Traffic Shaping: Types and Implementation

Traffic shaping has evolved as an invaluable tool for publishers seeking to optimize their ad revenue streams. Here’s a breakdown of its diverse forms and how they can be harnessed for maximum efficiency:

  • Bidder-Specific Requests
    • Publishers can customize the prebid code that defines their ad units for SSPs. This enables targeted dispatching of ad requests based on criteria like geographic location, device type, browser, and even connection speed. By refining these parameters, publishers can channel their requests more effectively.
  • Idle User Ad Suspension
    • Leveraging first-party data, publishers can gauge user activity levels on their platforms. Detecting prolonged user inactivity can trigger a system to suspend ads, ensuring that ad impressions aren’t wasted on inactive users.
  • Performance-Driven Throttling
    • This adaptive approach allows publishers to momentarily halt ad requests to specific SSPs that might be under-performing or consistently bidding below the set price floor. After a defined interval, these SSPs can be reactivated to assess any improvement in their bidding patterns.

Of these strategies, Bidder-Specific Requests and Performance-Driven Throttling have emerged as the predominant choices for publishers looking to implement effective traffic shaping.

How to Choose the Right Traffic Shaping Strategy?

Navigating the world of traffic shaping requires publishers to understand the unique advantages of each strategy. Here’s a deep dive into the three primary methods – Bidder-Specific Requests, Idle User Ad Suspension, and Performance-Driven Throttling – to help publishers make an informed decision.

1. Bidder-Specific Requests Pros

  • Granular Control: Offers detailed targeting based on geography, device type, browser, and more.
  • Increased Relevance: Ensures that ads are served to the most appropriate audience segments, enhancing bid success rates.

Considerations for Implementation:

  • Analyze your user demographics. If you have diverse audience segments, this method can increase ad request relevancy.
  • Ensure your technical team understands the intricacies of prebid codes or partner with a solution provider with expertise in this area.

2. Idle User Ad Suspension Pros

  • Efficient Ad Spend: Prevents wasting ad impressions on users who are not actively engaged.
  • Enhanced User Experience: Reduces the likelihood of ad fatigue among users and ensures ads are shown when they’re most likely to be noticed.

Considerations for Implementation:

  • Monitor user engagement metrics on your platform. If you detect varying levels of engagement, this method can optimize ad delivery.
  • Employ first-party data analytics tools to understand user behavior patterns accurately, allowing for better decision-making on ad suspension triggers.

3. Performance-Driven Throttling Pros

  • Optimized Returns: Pauses or limits requests to SSPs that are under-performing, ensuring higher-quality bids.
  • Adaptive Strategy: Allows for periodic reassessment of SSP performance, adapting to changing bid patterns.

Considerations for Implementation:

  • Conduct regular assessments of SSP bid quality. If certain SSPs consistently underperform or bid below your price floor, this strategy can refine your ad request flow.
  • Define clear performance benchmarks and throttling intervals. For instance, decide on the duration an SSP should be paused before reactivation and the performance metrics that trigger these actions.

Is Traffic Shaping Limited to Open Marketplace Inventory?

Definitely not. Traffic shaping isn’t confined solely to the open marketplace. Its principles can be applied across a myriad of programmatic advertising avenues. The essence of traffic shaping is about optimizing and controlling ad requests for maximum effectiveness.

Let’s say you have a million-plus user base accessing your platform via Safari and the ads directed towards Safari users have a higher conversion rate when channeled through private programmatic marketplaces, compared to the open market. By leveraging traffic shaping, you can strategically decide to direct all Safari-based ad requests exclusively to private marketplaces, ensuring a more targeted and potentially profitable ad delivery.

Why should publishers do traffic shaping?

Traffic shaping has emerged as an indispensable strategy for publishers, offering a plethora of advantages as testified by top executives across publishing and ad tech landscapes. Delving into its core benefits can shed light on its growing importance:

1. Enhanced Revenue Streams

Through strategic traffic shaping, publishers can fine-tune their ad requests, leading to improved bid quality and higher CPMs (Cost Per Mille).

2. Strengthening SSP Relations

Reducing the workload of SSPs (Supply-Side Platforms) by sending more refined ad requests can enhance the collaborative dynamics between publishers and SSPs, building mutual trust and efficiency.

3. Elevating User Experience (UX)

A less cluttered ad environment invariably means a better UX. By running fewer, but more relevant ads, page load times decrease, offering users a smoother browsing journey.

Interestingly, traffic shaping is closely aligned with demand path optimization, a technique that amplifies these benefits further.

MonetizeMore’s AdOps team champions the efficiency brought by refined ad requests. We recognize that as users engage deeper in a session, turning off underperforming bidders reduces page load, further enhancing user experience.

In essence, for publishers aiming for a perfect blend of profitability, sustainability, and user-centricity, traffic shaping is the way forward.

Traffic Shaping: Pursuing Sustainable Long-Term Revenue Over Short-Term Spikes

The concept of traffic shaping stands out as a beacon for publishers. However, there’s a prevailing misconception that it’s a strategy exclusively for instantaneous revenue boosts. In reality, its essence is rooted much deeper.

1. Building Foundations, Not Just Spikes

Traffic shaping isn’t about achieving a quick, ephemeral surge in ad revenue. Instead, it’s about laying a foundation for a stable and consistent revenue stream. By refining and optimizing ad requests, publishers ensure that every ad slot is maximized to its full potential, ensuring sustained profitability.

2. Enhancing Partner Relationships

Short-term strategies often lead to short-lived partnerships. Traffic shaping, with its focus on quality over quantity, fosters stronger, more enduring relationships with SSPs (Supply-Side Platforms). In the long run, this mutual trust and understanding can lead to better collaboration and enhanced revenue opportunities.

3. Commitment to User Experience

Short-term gains often come at the cost of user experience. In contrast, traffic shaping prioritizes the user, ensuring ads are relevant, unobtrusive, and in line with the user’s preferences. Over time, a positive user experience translates to increased loyalty, returning visitors, and a sustainable growth curve.

4. Adapting to Industry Evolution

Strategies that focus on fleeting gains can quickly become outdated. However, traffic shaping, with its emphasis on continuous optimization and adaptability, ensures publishers remain at the forefront of industry changes, securing their revenue prospects for years to come.


While the allure of quick wins can be tempting, traffic shaping underscores the value of long-term vision in the realm of digital advertising. For publishers who envision a sustainable future, traffic shaping is not just a strategy; it’s a commitment.

Dive deeper into traffic shaping and beyond with MonetizeMore, the premier AdTech partner for publishers. With our expertise, cutting-edge tools, and dedicated support, we empower publishers to optimize their ad revenue and achieve sustainable growth. Get Started Here.

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