Spotlight: The Trade Desk talks CTV, 2020, and transforming media for good

October 6, 2020 | 4 minute read
Jon Branch
Business Development and Partnerships
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Many of us dream about making the world a better place. The Trade Desk took that aspiration to heart with their mission to “transform media for the benefit of humankind.” As one of the leading demand-side platforms in the digital advertising industry, they are focused on delivering better experiences for consumers across the ecosystem.

We recently sat down with The Trade Desk’s Walker Linares, Director for TV, to talk about the growing dominance of connected TV (CTV) in advertising and how the events of 2020 are playing into all parts of the industry.

Oracle: It’s been a banner year for advanced TV, but The Trade Desk has been expanding growth in this space for a while. How has COVID shifted or accelerated your bets in CTV?

Walker Linares (WL): We’ve been all in on CTV for the last number of years, but COVID has permanently accelerated its growth and changed the TV landscape forever. The reach of CTV is expected to equal and potentially pass linear TV this year due to the current climate, and this is a change that won’t be undone. Because of our investment in both partnerships and technology, we’re very well positioned to take advantage of the rapid growth CTV is seeing today, and we are continuing to invest heavily in the channel across the globe.

Oracle: The Trade Desk is all about “transforming media for the benefit of humankind.” In what ways does this influence how the company approaches the growing dominance of CTV?

WL: Openness and transparency are key values of The Trade Desk, and CTV is a place where both of those can thrive. Ensuring all CTV inventory is open to all buyers, and not walled off, will allow advertisers to use more precise targeting and frequency controls. This leads to a better consumer experience, both in relevance and ad load. Those controls lead to higher CPMs, which will continue to help fund the amazing content we watch.

Oracle: In the spirit of trust and transparency—and creating a better digital ecosystem—how important is cross-channel measurement in delivering better media to consumers?

WL: Incredibly important. As the entire world becomes more digital, channels that once existed fully in silos—that is, linear TV, print, and radio—now can be measured together. I like to put my consumer hat on; I use a number of devices, and advertising impacts me across all of them. I may see an ad for the first time on CTV and then again on my phone, but that doesn’t mean I immediately convert. That could take another week and three more exposures. If I then convert but see the same ad another 12 times, not only is that a waste, but it’s a bad consumer experience.

With cross-channel measurement, advertisers can start to answer questions like: How does my Spotify campaign impact my ad buys on Hulu? Or: How many times do I need to reach consumers before they buy my product? If advertisers are looking across all channels and buying media holistically, that means I’m seeing more relevant ads, and I’m not being bombarded over and over again. That makes watching ads more engaging and tolerable.

Oracle: With the cancellation of upfront spending this year, how do you see that impacting TV buying moving forward? What are the opportunities for marketers?

WL: One of programmatic’s biggest advantages is flexibility. Whether that means turning campaigns on and off in certain markets or buying only the impressions you want, the control and agility is what makes the difference and drives results. Historically, upfronts were not incredibly flexible. But this year we’ve seen a number of brands go into the upfronts demanding flexibility as a part of those cancellations. I believe more TV dollars will be transacted in a more flexible manner. That will allow advertisers to buy ads using new audiences, with the ability to optimize and measure the outcomes in ways they’ve never been able to before.

Oracle: Since the media landscape overall continues to change rapidly, what does the future hold for CTV? What innovations do you expect will inform those developments?

WL: CTV will no longer be a different budget than linear, and the idea of incremental reach will go away. It will all just be “TV.” You can see how networks are already thinking this way as they invest heavily in streaming services like Disney+, Hulu, Peacock, HBO Max, and others. More of the top new content will be available on CTV, and in many cases it will only be available via CTV. Networks will continue to invest in technology that will allow buyers to activate more flexibly, something we’ve also started to see.

Oracle: In which ways will marketers need to adapt to accommodate?

WL: The biggest way marketers need to adapt depends on who they are and their goals, but in general it will be about how they buy and how they measure success. Linear TV was bought in the upfronts, and success was mostly about reaching a demographic group. With so much more targeting data available and so many different measurement solutions out there, marketers will have to start asking harder questions around what really matters: Is it unique reach? Household penetration? Foot traffic? Online conversions? Then they’ll start adapting their planning to maximize those goals.


Go here to learn more about CTV and how to effectively measure across platforms.

Jon Branch

Business Development and Partnerships

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