The Trade Desk Asks SSPs for a Single Supply Path to Publisher Inventory

Media industry’s biggest independent buyer maintains changes will result in a more transparent marketplace

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The Trade Desk gave sell-side players a week to improve efficiencies. Sources: Trade Desk, Getty Images
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Key Insights

The Trade Desk has in recent days been contacting sell-side, or SSP, ad-tech companies requesting they choose a single supply path to premium ad inventory in a cost-saving move that could impact publisher yield.   

According to multiple sources, The Trade Desk has given SSPs and ad exchanges a deadline of this week to provide the demand-side platform a more tailored path to specific inventory types as part of its ongoing supply-path optimization efforts.

In effect, this means SSPs will have to send publisher-specific bid requests to The Trade Desk via a single tech integration, such as Google’s Open Bidding or independent ad-tech favorite Prebid.

Publishers use SSPs to generate higher bids for their inventory and theoretically, using more than one tech integration to monetize the same ad impression will lead to more bids, thus increasing its value.

Although, if multiple integrations are used to auction the same ad impression, it can lead to an increase in a DSP’s operational costs—often referred to as “queries per second”, or QPS—as, in many cases, they are offered the same impression multiple times on different exchanges.

Beginning April 22, The Trade Desk will require that SSPs use only one such integration to monetize specific types of ad inventory on a publisher’s site. Per The Trade Desk’s updated rules, a publisher can use one integration type for desktop display ad inventory and a different one for video or mobile app inventory, depending on what the SSP partners deem best for monetization.

The Trade Desk is making the request to improve efficiencies on its automated ad-buying platform and noted that there has been “a spike in duplicative supply” in recent weeks. The company gave sell-side players a week to implement the changes.

“Transparency is critical to ensuring trust across the digital advertising ecosystem,” The Trade Desk said in a statement it emailed to Adweek. “We have worked with the supply side in various ways to improve transparency in a way that drives trust and demand from advertisers, including the supply-chain, ads.txt and sellers.json initiatives. This is in everyone’s interest.”

The statement continued: “Our goal with this change is to see every ad opportunity once per exchange. This will help create a fair and transparent marketplace for advertisers and publishers, which is a key to the trust and integrity necessary to ensure a growing, thriving market.”

The Trade Desk has not specifically said it will cease trading with SSPs that do not comply with its requests, although the company has been vocal about the need for better efficiencies in the programmatic media trading space for some time.

Several of the industry’s leading independent SSPs have been contacting publishers to inform them of the upcoming change and how they will work within the new rules to ensure the best possible ROI. Although some did note the changes could lead to volatility in spend, particularly if they have historically used multiple integrations to monetize the same type of inventory.

One publisher-side source speaking with Adweek on the condition of anonymity due to their employer’s PR policies noted that the changes were being implemented at such a difficult time because of a slump in ad spend amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“I kind of expect some kind of a drop in CPMs if it [demand] is coming from The Trade Desk, but it’s hard to say right now because CPMs have already kind of tanked,” the source said. “It’s a difficult time for this to happen because the data I’m looking at day to day is already pretty volatile.”

@ronan_shields Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.