Ghost loads. Bait-and-switch posts with inaccurate origin and destination information. Double brokers. Carriers of last resort with questionable credentials and safety records.
These are just a few of the structural issues that introduce friction into trucking load boards and undermine the integrity of the data derived from them.
Load boards for the trucking spot market were an important innovation decades ago when the trucking industry was changing rapidly in the wake of deregulation. Capacity was fragmenting and there were more small carriers and owner-operators than ever before, creating a need for new marketplaces that allowed many carriers to connect with reaggregated spot volume.
As the freight brokerage industry grew during the first two decades of the 2000s, spot markets became even more important in indicating the direction of the broader market. Spot rates ultimately derived from load board activity and self-reporting began to drive the equity valuations of publicly traded trucking carriers. Yet at the same time, the brokers and carriers transacting in the load boards were developing sophisticated techniques to game the marketplace for their own purposes.