Data is king
Data is king when it comes to optimizing your website traffic sources. Unfortunately these days the basic analytics are just not good enough. Campaigns are frequently optimized based on industry standard analytics such as page views, time on site, and bounce rate. These metrics correlate directly to a publishers ad impressions and it’s safe to say that most publishers want them improved.
Using basic metrics to optimize website traffic
Often improving the basic metrics is not going to assist you with increasing your traffic quality. One reason is that fraudulent traffic is often designed to enhance these basic metrics. Blocking sources of traffic that are performing with poor metrics could very well be degrading the traffic quality. A better way is to set a baseline for each metric and block sources that are below and above it by a good margin. This is a great strategy but more should be done. One of the best ways to quickly flag bad quality traffic is to track the banner CTR for each source.
A high CTR should be a big red flag
If you were buying traffic from a source that was producing a CTR on your banner ads of 50%, then you would likely want to block it right away. Tracking CTR is easier said than done. If banner ad networks provided a simple way to pass source identifiers then you could use their data. Unfortunately most ad networks do not offer this and simply provide you with overall impressions and clicks per account. In some cases an ad network will allow your to analyze per banner id. A new banner id could be created for each source however that would likely be an unsustainable practice. Some years ago I read an article that provided a solution to this problem.
You must understand what your traffic is doing. With the right tools you gain a special ability to buy good quality traffic at inexpensive prices. While the basic metrics are useful, it is imperative to go beyond the basics. Implementing new and innovative measures will help you understand the good from the bad. Tracking CTR gives you great information that can be setup as a goal metric in your analytics platform. Knowing the sources of traffic with abnormally high CTR, as well as abnormally low CTR, will help you buy better website traffic in a sustainable and consistent way.