In a significant speech today, to a live audience of industry peers (as well as a virtual audience), Jeff Green, founder and CEO of The Trade Desk delivered an impassioned defense of the open internet and a critique of walled gardens. The backdrop, of course, is the threat the deprecation of cookies poses to the ability of advertisers to reach the right audience, and the ability of publishers to monetize their ad inventory — as well as the perception that FLoC will be yet another walled garden.
The occasion was the launch of Solimar, The Trade Desk’s new DSP, built on the foundation of its universal identifier, Unified ID 2.0.
The future of the internet. Green listed some of the major factors contributing to the moment we are in now: the digital acceleration caused by the pandemic, the flourishing of new channels, and the slow death of cookies. “It’s up to those of us who are committed to the open internet to really take advantage of this moment.”
Change your messaging. “Advertising is a leading force for economic growth and recovery,” said Green, but the way brands message consumers about their products and services has to change: “We care about people, and we want to make a difference in their lives. Advertising has been credited with selling people products that they don’t want, but during this pandemic, not only have we been creating growth in the economy, but we have been reminding people of the value of the products we represent.”
Privacy is center stage. Many tech companies, said Green, are using privacy “both as a sword and a shield. To protect themselves in some cases, and in other cases to gain more ‘land.’ It’s really important that all of us acknowledge that that’s happening, as well as figure out what we need to do on behalf of the open internet and our individual companies.”
CTV will be half the pie. “TV will never be the same,” he said. With people staying at home and the appetite for content growing, during a period not much new content was created, and sports and live entertainment were canceled, cable-cutting was the order of the day. “I personally think that premium video will represent more than half of what will soon (a couple of years) be the trillion dollar pie that is global advertising.” CTV is also, he said, the most effective vehicle for advertising ever created. “We’re going to take the moving picture and sound, and combine that with the ability to leverage data to personalize who’s receiving that. And because it is fragmented, in a beautiful way, it is not monopolizable. It can’t be owned by any one company.”
This will put pressure on walled gardens, he said, “and on every form of advertising to be a little more democratic. That’s part of the reason this moment is so important.”
It’s not just about cookies. Green emphasized that championing the open internet is more than just a reaction to the impending end of third-party cookies. “We’re not talking about this now because it’s come into favor, or because it’s in our interest to talk about it as we become bigger and more competitive with companies like Google. It’s because we’ve always believed it.” He described it as “an important cause” for humanity.
“I think there’s two types of companies in the world. Those that are trying to control the internet and those that are trying to enable it. One of the biggest problems, especially inside adtech, is that when somebody gets a little bit big, they try to hoard whatever it is they’ve created. That’s why we created Unified ID 1.0 — to give away that advantage we had, to raise all boats. When we raise all boats, we benefit. So do they, and we’re okay with that.” Unified ID 2.0, the current iteration, is open source, and was released by The Trade Desk into the stewardship of an industry organization, Prebid.org.
A new trading platform. Green was setting the stage for the launch of Solimar, The Trade Desk’s new DSP. The platform focuses on data security; the need for marketers to show ROI; the need to serve a wide range of channels, including CTV; and the challenge of resolving user identities.
Among the main features announced today are:
- Secure onboard ramps for advertisers’ first-party data (including triple-encrypting in some jurisdictions);
- An extensive measurement market place that delivers real-time metrics to support campaign optimization (Green drew the contrast with the walled gardens’ secrecy around measurement);
- An advanced business goal-setting capability that enables real-time adjustment of goals based on recommendations from KOA, The Trade Desk’s AI engine; and
- An improved and simplified user experience (an interface, Green said, thats seeks to sustain a “dialogue” with the user).
Summing up. “Bottom line? I don’t think there’s ever been a more exciting time in the history of the internet than right now,” said Green. “What I believe Solimar is, and what these engineers have spent all this time building, is something to help all of your companies to take advantage of the open internet, and define where it’s going to go.”
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