Sources Guide

With PlugRush's Sources you can track paid traffic as a media buyer down to the adzone or Sub ID level with Subsources, not just referrer domains.

Use PlugRush's Sources feature to optimize

In an effort to provide a more nuanced and accurate system for blacklisting and whitelisting, PlugRush developed an innovative way to handle your Sources of traffic. We cleverly called it the Sources Feature, and it even has an auto-protective mechanism, which we'll describe later in this guide.

Some history: Before, when you would blacklist or whitelist, it would be based on the domain registered in our system. Inside the PlugRush user interface, these are still listed in the campaign overview under the 'Referrals' tab. We strongly recommend using the Sources tab instead.

Why the hell would we make such a massive change?

Now, you might be asking yourself, "What in the world were the PlugRush developers thinking? Why didn't they just leave it how it was?" It's a valid question and we'll answer this for you now.

Before, when you would run a campaign, and tracked the domains sending you traffic, you didn't get the whole picture. You only got the domain registered in our system that your traffic came through. Often times, you couldn't figure out why your ROI was okay, but not great... or it was close to positive, but not quite. In both cases, you likely ended up killing a whole registered domain from your campaign using a blacklist, when you really just wanted to exclude certain parts of the traffic.

Optimization only based on the registered domain simply wasn't good enough. Let's outline why with an example: Publisher A registers the domain in our system, but maybe he's sending us traffic from,, and through the adzones of the one domain he registered. That means, with the old system, you would see one domain sending you traffic that may have been okay overall, but had amazing parts that you wanted to target specifically.

It wasn't possible back then, but thanks to our Sources system, it is now! Available in the campaign overview under the 'Sources' tab, they are based on the actual referring domains sending you traffic, and also their sub-sources. This helps to make optimizing your campaigns easier and more accurate.

How to start using Sources & Subsources

Under the 'Sources' tab, you'll see the primary Referrer Source domains listed and then for many of these domains you'll be able to expand their Sub-Sources under the 'Sources' column.

Each top level Referrer is designated with a letter R at the start of its ID number. So, for example, if the referring domain is, that could be marked with a Source ID of R123. Sub-Sources are marked with a letter S at the beginning of their ID number. This means under R123, there could be Sub-Sources called S234, S456, S789, etc.

You may find yourself in a situation where the top level Referrer R123 is performing okay on your campaign, but not good enough. But Sub-Source S234 under it is performing really great and you want more of that Sub-Source's traffic. It's 100% possible now!


Sources are throttled by default for your protection

Each campaign you start will be limited to receive 5% of its total traffic from each Referrer Source. So Referrer R123 can only send your campaign 5% of its traffic. Sub-Sources are limited to 1% each, so if Referrer R123 has Sub-Sources S234, S456, and S789, each of them can send your campaign a maximum of 1% by default.

Important note: You can remove this built-in protective limit on any Referrer Source or Sub-Source at any time. Later in this guide, we'll explain how.

In the past, when you created a campaign, a given domain in our system could end up sending you most of the traffic. If it ended up being traffic you didn't like so much, it was sometimes difficult to get ahead of this happening in your blacklisting efforts. It might've gone as far as ruining your campaign's Return On Investment (ROI) altogether. Now, this is no longer a risk, because we automatically limit each Source until you decide to unlimit them.

Example scenarios:

  • Referrer Source R123 is performing well for you. Conclusion: Unlimit R123
  • Sub-Source S234 under Referrer Source R123 is performing well for you, but Sub-Sources S456 and S789 are only doing okay. Conclusion: Unlimit S234, but leave S456 and S789 limited to test them further while they're throttled to 1%.

What do the tooltip colors mean?

In front of each Referrer and Sub-Source under the 'Sources' tab of the campaign index, you'll see a small dot. The colors of these tooltips mean the following.

Orange means the Referrer Source or Sub-Source is throttled. This is the default state of each Source, when a campaign begins. This means the campaign will receive a maximum of 5% of its total traffic from the Referrer Source. (1% for Sub-Sources.)

Green means the Referrer Source or Sub-Source is unlimited. Your campaign can receive as much traffic as this Referrer or Sub-Source has to offer it.

Red means the Source is blacklisted.


Tracking the Source ID

The Source ID identifies the specific Subsource in our system sending your ad campaign traffic. Preferably, you would set up conversion tracking with us to track it indirectly and efficiently. This way, your campaign stats in the PlugRush user interface will reflect which Referrer Sources and Subsources are converting for you. This allows you to optimize quickly.

How to implement conversion tracking to find good sources

To easily figure out which sources are performing well for you, we've added an additional feature: Conversion tracking

In the PlugRush user interface, you can find your conversion tracking URL under Account =

Simply click where it says "Server to server Conversion Tracking" on that page to grab your conversion tracking URL and also for some quick instructions on how to use it. To get further instructions on how to use conversion tracking, please read our guide dedicated specifically to this topic here.

Once you have that set up, you'll see which Sources are converting for you under the 'Sources' tab for your campaign and you'll be able to unlimit traffic from the good ones accordingly.

How to use the Source ID with third party tracking systems

If you're not able to use our conversion tracking to send us postbacks, you can alternatively use the {$source_id} and {$source_referrer} URL parameters with third party tracking systems.

This way, with each visitor we send to your campaign, you'll get the Source ID it came from. Then you can break down your statistics in the third party tracking tool to find out which Source IDs from us are performing well for you. According to this, you can unlimit good Sources and blacklist poor quality ones.

The {$source_id} token will pass the Subsource ID (starting with the letter S at the beginning of the ID). This is the most specific thing you can track and should be used for advertising campaign optimization.

The {$source_referrer} token will pass the Referrer Source ID (starting with the letter R). This is the top level Source and less specific than the Subsource. You could track this additionally, when possible, but if you can only track one token then it should be the {$source_id} to have the most specific information possible.

How to unlimit good Sources

Let's say you're receiving good traffic that converts well from a few Sources or Sub-Sources. If you're using our conversion tracking mentioned above, it will be very easy to find the good ones, because we list your conversions in the campaign index.

If you're not that fancy, maybe you're just using a tracking system like Voluum and have a specific Subsource ID from our {$source_id} token. If you're not using any tracking, it's also possible you just have a referring URL and want to unlimit the corresponding referrer domain. Regardless, here is how to do it.

Unlimit Sources in a few simple steps:

  1. In the user interface, go to BUY TRAFFIC =
  2. Locate the campaign you'd like to unlimit a source from. Click on its name. This breaks down your stats for this campaign.
  3. Click on the 'Sources' tab.
  4. Locate the Sources and click on them. (Use the search box if you have the specific source ID from the {$source_id} token.)
  5. At the top of the statistics table, select 'Unlimit Distribution' from the 'Actions' dropdown menu.


How to blacklist or whitelist Sources

There may be some Sources you're receiving traffic from that you don't like at all. In fact, even 5% of your campaign's traffic may be too much to spare. In that case, you can blacklist them from your campaign(s) to stop them from sending you traffic completely.

Alternatively, you might be getting excellent traffic from a few Sources, leading you to want to whitelist them in a separate campaign, in which you bid higher to receive more traffic from these high quality Sources you have found. When a Sources whitelist is applied to a campaign, you will ONLY get traffic from those whitelisted Sources. And these whitelisted Sources will be unlimited by default.

Blacklist unwanted Sources easily like this:

  1. Go to BUY TRAFFIC =create-blacklist

  2. Go to BUY TRAFFIC =

  3. Locate the campaign you'd like to block a Source from. Click on its name. This breaks down your stats for this campaign.

  4. Click on the 'Sources' tab.

  5. Locate the Sources and click on them. (Use the search box if you have the specific source ID from the {$source_id} token.)

  6. At the top of the statistics table, select 'Blacklist selected' from the 'Actions' dropdown menu. blacklist-sources

  7. This will bring up the blacklisting popup. In there, you can either create a new blacklist or use an existing one you created in step 1. blacklist-popup

Whitelisting works the same way as blacklisting

To whitelist Source IDs on your campaign, you can use the same procedure as you would with blacklists (described above). Just make sure you create a whitelist instead of course.

Bulk importing of Source IDs to blacklists & whitelists

Here is a quick Pro Tip for you: If you know which Subsource IDs you want to blacklist or whitelist (i.e. if you're tracking our {$source_id} token in a third party tracking system), you can also blacklist straight from the list editor under the 'Add sources and referrers' tab. You can additionally use the 'Import data' tab in the list editor to bulk import a list of Source IDs to your blacklist or whitelist.


Automated Rules can optimize Sources

With our automatic optimization tool, you can reduce your time spent on optimizing campaigns by up to 90%. Learn how to use PlugRush Automated Rules and have them do the job of excluding and unlimiting Sources / Subsources for you.


Make sure you read the guide about Automated Rules to unlock the full potential of this very powerful auto-optimization feature.

Thank you for reading

We hope this quick guide on Sources is helpful to you in understanding this very powerful tool that will enable you to run campaigns with PlugRush without risks and the amazing option to optimize your campaigns in a meaningful way. Improving your ROI and getting your campaign to be profitable will be a breeze now!

As always, you can contact our staff HERE.

Was this guide helpful?