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As marketers, we have a tendency to optimize campaigns towards the cheapest clicks, because surely, the more clicks you get, the more leads, online purchases and fan mail you’ll receive… right?


The truth is not all clicks are created equal and optimizing toward cheap clicks is not an efficient way to spend your budget and push your business ahead.

If you can understand what drives quality traffic and balance that with your ability to scale across those sources, you will quickly learn how to spend your money more effectively in order to generate greater ROI. This is something I spend a lot of time on at Nudge, where we’re constantly evaluating the quality of different traffic sources that drive leads across various verticals.

When it comes to measuring the quality of our traffic sources we look at what we like to call ‘Attention Minutes’.

I recently published an article for Sharethrough, ‘Why Marketers Should Pay Attention to Attention’, which goes into the metric with a bit more detail, but simply put, Attention Minutes is the active time that a person is consuming your content. By layering Attention across traffic sources, you can quickly figure out where to invest your money.

Active Time that a person is consuming the content.

In order to find the highest quality traffic sources, we had to pool our clients’ distribution data into categories (i.e. recommendation units, email newsletters, social etc.).

We then developed an average against Attention Minutes which helped us identify our top 5 quality traffic sources.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

Top 5 Distribution Sources, by Attention Minutes

If you’d like to download the top 5 distribution sources as an infographic, you can do so here.

Email newsletters

Email newsletters drive drives 65% higher average attention minutes, than the norm.

However, it’s not the distribution source that’ll scale as much as others;

So, use email newsletters as a tool to improve the overall quality of your campaigns.
The options below provide some great ways to get started:

  • Upstart: provides targeted email newsletters to promote your startup.
  • Inside: enables brands to sponsor newsletters.
  • LiveIntent: has an email ad solution.
  • Newsletterdirectory.co: lets advertisers sponsor some very small email lists.
  • Gold Lasso: manages native ads in email newsletters.

Influencer Marketing

Bounce rates related to influencer traffic is 61.72% lower than the mean, which means you’ve got an incredibly engaged audience on your hands that you need to make the most of.

Influencers also drive really high attention.

So, make sure you link through to your other content. Because, if someone clicks, they are going to be valuable to your business.

Google always ranks as a high quality distribution source in Nudge quality benchmarks. It also provides scale.

You might be asking, will I rank? It’s paid content. We still see paid content ranking, as from Google’s perspective, if it’s the best content for that search term they will show it.

The easiest way to get started with paid search is with Google AdWords.


Publishers own content drives 54.94% higher quality than social, and although it’s not going to tear the roof off when it comes to scale, it does provide a reasonable amount of volume.

So, for your next campaign, think about incorporating publisher direct into your distribution mix, if you haven’t already.

Recommendation Units

Recommendation units drive, on average, 9.01% higher average attention minutes than the mean and hey, it also drives volume!

Check out Taboola and OutBrain, as both can drive excellent results.


You might have noticed that social isn’t part of our list and that’s simply because they didn’t rank high enough within our benchmarks.

I think it’s important, so I’ll say it again: Not all clicks are created equal.

So, make sure you’re spending your money wisely, on what actually entices and engages your audience. Not just on the cheapest clicks you can get your hands on, as chances are, they’re cheap for a reason.

I hope this article either serves to form a new way of thinking about distribution optimization, or simply confirms that what you’re already pursuing, is the right way to go.

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