Did The Trade Desk Just “SLAAP” The Supply Side?

Did The Trade Desk Just “SLAAP” The Supply Side?

At this point it isn’t a secret that the programmatic ecosystem has done an abysmal job with brand safety and supply quality. It also is pretty clear that The Trade Desk is doing whatever it can to distance themselves from the DSP pack. While The Trade Desk is clearly a Tier 1 DSP it’s hard to take market share away from their competitors who all own and operate premium inventory and data.


The Trade Desk has invested a lot into Universal ID2 to put themselves at the forefront of the post-cookie audience targeting solutions. While it’s too soon to write off UID2 it seems pretty clear that it will not achieve the scale needed to make them the “go to” for post-cookie identity. Now, it appears they are taking another shot at differentiating themselves from their other Tier 1 DSP competitors. 


The new PR push is pretty straightforward. They want to brand themselves as the arbiters of “the premium open web.” The timing makes sense because brands and agencies are scrambling to figure out ways to ensure brand safety and supply quality in the wake of numerous reports highlighting how DV, IAS, and the like have been asleep at the wheeling certifying quality. The Trade Desk has released SP500+ (which seems to be an index of top, premium publishers) and more recently the Top 100 publishers. 


These lists are not any kind of innovation in themselves. In fact, many on adtech Twitter (or X) chided the move as a SLAAP (site list as a service) and I essentially agree. Any programmatic media buyer with a few years of experience probably could have put a nearly identical list together. That said, something bigger is likely going on. It appears the Top 100 publisher list is full of UID2 adopters. The Trade Desk could be trying to bully the open web into their ecosystem of UID2 or else be branded “non-premium” inventory. 


If this is the case I think it’s a dangerous path for The Trade Desk to take. Publishers are tired of being pushed around by monopolistic players on the buy side. Further, The Trade Desk has spent a lot of effort creating goodwill in the programmatic ecosystem around not being their competition. Attempting to use their clout in the industry to start pushing their view of the world on publishers and the rest of the programmatic ecosystem players could ultimately backfire. I don’t think the industry as a whole wants or needs a DSP to declare what is and is not the premium open internet.  


No matter what The Trade Desks true intentions are with these publisher lists one thing is certain. We will be very interested to see where they go with all of this.

How Programmatic Thrives in the Future

How Programmatic Thrives in the Future

As the hopes and dreams of a truly open internet come crashing down around the adtech industry, is there any chance that a truly independent ecosystem can not only survive, but thrive in an era of privacy, walled gardens, and domination by a handful of key players? I believe there is. 


To be successful we as an industry need to beat the walled gardens at their own game. It will entail leveraging the interconnected ecosystem of agencies/buyers, platforms, and publishers to scale a walled garden experience in an open, programmatic environment. While it sounds challenging, the foundation for achieving this is already in place. We need all of the key players from the buy and sell side to collaborate on curation. 


Here are three ways this can happen: 


  1. The walled gardens need to understand the value of programmatic media buying. As Amazon continues to garner more market share and players like Yahoo and The Trade Desk create more premium, exclusive deals around O&O (or 3rd party O&O) the stranglehold that the duopoly of Google and Meta is slowly being chipped away. Advertisers understand there is a vast network of high quality inventory to be bought across multiple channels outside of 
  2. The supply side (i.e. SSPs) needs to focus their efforts not on creating competing DSPs, but rather partnering with buy side players (agencies, in-house teams, data providers, and other solutions) to curate customized networks that aggregate premium data that can prove top of funnel value by starting customer journeys that end with conversions. Basically, the SSP of the future is the curated ad network of the past. However, instead of competing directly for advertiser dollars the opportunity to even better collaborate with DSPs that already have the advertiser budgets will grow immensely as SSPs create more value for every niche on the buy side. 
  3. The adtech industry as a whole needs to stop focusing on scale and more on value. For every advertiser and every tactic there is a point where incremental spend provides a negative ROI. Adopting a focus on value alone will go a long way in eliminating MFA and other types of fraud from the ecosystem and raise CPMs on the quality inventory that is out there. Everybody wins! 


Do I think all three of these things will happen overnight? No. In fact, I think it will take a long time for #1 to happen. If the adtech industry can actually come together, focus on #2 and #3, and stop fighting useless turf wars we can force the walled gardens back into the programmatic ecosystem. It’s time to call a ceasefire and admit that it will take all of us (agencies, in-house teams, DSPs, SSPs, data providers, publishers, and other solutions), working together, with SSPs as the new ad networks, to create a better, curated ecosystem that provides value to every advertiser. 

What Exactly is Retail Media?

What Exactly is Retail Media?

A Retail Media Network (RMN) is a platform that allows retailers to monetize their websites and apps by offering advertising space to brands, which can then promote their products directly to consumers within the retail environment. These networks leverage the retailer’s digital properties, such as their online store, mobile app, and sometimes even in-store digital touchpoints, to provide targeted advertising opportunities based on the retailer’s customer data.


Key Features of Retail Media Networks include:


Targeted Advertising: Utilizing the retailer’s customer data, RMNs enable brands to target ads to specific segments of customers based on their shopping behavior, preferences, and purchase history.

Closed-loop Measurement: Retailers can offer brands the ability to measure the effectiveness of their ads directly within the retail ecosystem, providing insights into how advertising impacts sales and customer behavior.

Omni-channel Reach: Many RMNs offer the ability to reach customers across multiple channels, including online, mobile, and in-store, providing a seamless advertising experience.

Data-driven Insights: Brands can access rich data insights from RMNs, including customer demographics, shopping patterns, and product preferences, to inform their advertising strategies and product offerings.

Benefits for Retailers and Brands:


For Retailers: RMNs represent a significant revenue stream beyond traditional retail operations. They also enhance the shopping experience by offering relevant product recommendations and promotions to customers.

For Brands: Advertising through RMNs allows brands to place their products in front of consumers at critical moments in the shopping journey, potentially increasing sales and market share within the retailer’s ecosystem.


One area of debate is whether or not using first party retailer data on third party websites is a part of the RMN ecosystem. Many retailers are pushing this, but the reality is this is more of a data sales play than a true RMN. One key aspect of an RMN is catching highly targeted shoppers at the time they are making purchase decisions. Leveraging retailer data on third party sites can be very valuable, but it’s definitely more of an upper funnel tactic and more akin to a run of the mill audience network. 


Retail Media Networks are becoming an increasingly important part of the digital advertising landscape, especially as e-commerce continues to grow and retailers look for new ways to leverage their digital assets and customer relationships.

How Transparency Reduces Programmatic Costs

How Transparency Reduces Programmatic Costs

Transparency that comes via in-housing programmatic media buys plays a pivotal role in reducing costs and increasing the efficiency of digital advertising campaigns. This transparency pertains to the visibility into the entire process of buying and selling media, including fees, the performance of ad placements, and the authenticity of traffic. Here’s how increased transparency can lead to cost reductions:


Elimination of Hidden Fees


One of the most immediate ways transparency reduces costs is by revealing all fees associated with programmatic buying. With so many moving pieces in programmatic media buys, the amount of unnecessary fees/markups that advertisers don’t even know about is pretty immense. These can include technology fees, agency fees, 3rd party service fees/markups, and additional charges that might not be evident without a clear view of the transaction process. When advertisers have a detailed understanding of where their budget is going, they can identify and eliminate unnecessary expenses, negotiate better terms, and allocate more of their budget to actual media buying rather than to intermediary services.


Improved Inventory Quality


Transparency allows advertisers to see exactly where their ads are being placed and the quality of the inventory they are purchasing. This visibility helps advertisers avoid spending on low-quality sites that do not contribute to their campaign objectives or, worse, on fraudulent traffic. By directing their spend toward high-quality, relevant inventory, advertisers can improve the effectiveness of their campaigns and achieve better ROI, thus reducing wasted spend. It is a common practice for outsourced programmatic media buys via agencies or DSP managed services to only show you the best performing media while omitting the long-tail media that is largely low quality, unattributed media, or potentially outright fraud. 


Optimized Supply Path


Supply path optimization (SPO) is the process of analyzing and choosing the most efficient and cost-effective way to purchase media. Transparency in the programmatic supply chain reveals the path an ad buy takes from the advertiser to the publisher. With this information, advertisers can identify and eliminate redundant or non-value-adding intermediaries, reducing the overall cost of the buy. This direct path ensures that a larger portion of the advertising budget is spent on actual media rather than on middlemen.


Data-Driven Decisions


Transparency provides advertisers with detailed data on campaign performance, including metrics such as viewability, engagement, and conversion rates. Armed with this information, advertisers can make informed decisions about where to allocate their budgets, focusing on strategies and channels that offer the best return. This data-driven approach to campaign management allows for the continuous optimization of campaigns, ensuring that budgets are not wasted on underperforming ads or strategies.


Enhanced Negotiation Leverage


Having a transparent view of the programmatic ecosystem gives advertisers leverage in negotiations with suppliers, including publishers, platforms, and technology providers. With detailed insights into costs, performance, and the supply chain, advertisers can push for better rates, more favorable terms, and higher-quality inventory, further reducing their costs.


Trust and Long-Term Relationships


Transparency fosters trust between advertisers and their partners, including agencies, platforms, and publishers. When all parties have visibility into the process and outcomes, it builds confidence and facilitates the development of long-term relationships. These relationships can lead to more favorable terms over time, including volume discounts and access to premium inventory at competitive prices.



In summary, more transparency in programmatic media buys can significantly reduce costs by eliminating hidden fees, improving inventory quality, optimizing the supply path, enabling data-driven decisions, providing negotiation leverage, and building trust. As the digital advertising landscape continues to evolve, the demand for transparency will likely increase, driven by advertisers’ desire to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their digital ad spend.

The Strategic Advantages of In-Housing Programmatic Media Buying

The Strategic Advantages of In-Housing Programmatic Media Buying

In the ever-evolving digital advertising landscape, the shift towards in-housing programmatic media buying is becoming increasingly popular among brands seeking greater control, transparency, and efficiency in their advertising efforts. This move not only signifies a shift in operational strategy but also underscores a deeper understanding of the benefits that come with direct management of programmatic buying. Here, we explore the myriad advantages that businesses stand to gain by bringing programmatic media buying in-house.


Enhanced Control and Transparency


One of the primary benefits of in-housing programmatic media buying is the increased control and transparency it offers brands over their advertising operations. By managing programmatic buying internally, companies can directly oversee their ad spend, campaign targeting, and optimization strategies without relying on third-party agencies. This direct oversight allows for real-time adjustments, ensuring that campaigns are aligned with the brand’s goals and market dynamics. Furthermore, in-housing reduces the layers between advertisers and their data, providing clearer insights into spending efficiencies and campaign performance.


Cost Efficiency


In-housing programmatic media buying can lead to significant cost savings. By eliminating the middlemen – typically agencies or managed service providers – brands can reduce the fees that were previously paid for campaign management and strategy. Additionally, with direct access to ad exchanges and supply-side platforms, companies can negotiate better rates and enjoy the cost efficiencies of buying media at market price without added agency markups.


Data Ownership and Privacy


With data privacy becoming a paramount concern for consumers and regulators alike, having direct control over data is critical. In-housing programmatic buying allows brands to maintain strict oversight of their data usage and storage, ensuring compliance with data protection regulations. Moreover, owning the data generated from programmatic campaigns enables brands to build and refine their customer insights, leading to more personalized and effective advertising strategies.


Agility and Speed to Market


The digital market is characterized by its fast pace and constant evolution. Brands that manage programmatic buying in-house benefit from increased agility and speed to market, enabling them to launch campaigns quickly in response to emerging trends or competitive pressures. This responsiveness is a significant competitive advantage, allowing brands to capitalize on opportunities as they arise and adjust strategies swiftly to optimize campaign performance.


Tailored Strategies and Creative Control


In-housing programmatic media buying empowers brands to develop and implement advertising strategies that are precisely tailored to their business objectives and target audiences. With direct control over the creative aspects of campaigns, companies can ensure that their messaging is consistent, on-brand, and adapted to the specificities of each channel and audience segment. This customization extends to the optimization of creative assets, where in-house teams can test, learn, and iterate in real time to improve engagement and conversion rates.


Building In-House Expertise


Finally, in-housing programmatic media buying cultivates a deep reservoir of digital advertising expertise within the organization. As in-house teams grow more proficient in managing programmatic campaigns, they develop a nuanced understanding of the digital advertising ecosystem, enabling more strategic decision-making and innovation. This expertise becomes a valuable asset, informing not just advertising strategy but broader marketing and business strategies as well.




In-housing programmatic media buying offers a range of strategic benefits that can significantly enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of digital advertising efforts. From increased control and transparency to cost savings, data privacy, agility, tailored strategies, and the development of in-house expertise, the advantages are compelling. As more brands recognize these benefits, the shift towards in-housing programmatic media buying is likely to accelerate, reshaping the digital advertising landscape in the process.