The Trade Desk Tests Its Agency Legacy; Google’s Agency Relationships Change, Too

Here’s today’s news round-up… Want it by email? Sign up here.
Trade Punches
In 2016, The Trade Desk cracked open the DSP market by sticking with agencies. DSPs such as Turn and TubeMogul attempted to go brand-direct but were dropped by agencies and AppNexus, the top dog DSP at the time, refashioned itself as a developer platform for programmatic specialists.
These days, The Trade Desk is as big as any agency holdco – and agencies and ad tech vendors chafe under TTD’s incumbency, Digiday reports. 
For example, although The Trade Desk shares log files and is ostensibly open, advertisers are hit with more nontransparent fees when using The Trade Desk.
And other TTD products, including its Data Alliance, Koa and OpenPath, demonstrate how much the company has transformed.
Data Alliance is a data white-labeling service that functions as an optimization feature. It dips into data on the marketplace when advertisers haven’t self-selected a data seller but could use the boost. Koa is a machine learning product that gives The Trade Desk more control over campaigns, such as data purchases, if it achieves a cost-per-conversion metric. 
OpenPath is a supply-path optimization program that launched a year ago and plugs into publishers. Alongside The Trade Desk’s broadcaster-direct partnerships, OpenPath particularly underscores how far into the SSP and publisher side TTD has ventured – a big change from its pure-play DSP roots.

A Sense Of Agency
Not unlike The Trade Desk’s simmering tensions (we won’t call it “beef” quite yet) with agencies, things are changing for Google, too, but perhaps more so in the opposite direction. 
Agencies, particularly SEO firms, have fumed for years about Google poaching their clients. But with the recent mass layoffs at Google and other messy goings on at Google – including the chaos surrounding Google Analytics – it seems as if Google may concede direct advertiser relationships back to agencies as a way to cut costs and get its own house in order, writes Search Engine Roundtable.
Google will push advertisers to approve third-party resellers – some of which even get email addresses, a huge leg up in closing accounts. (By the same token, a Google email will keep agencies beholden to Google, which can still exercise control.)
Even so, it’s a big deal that Google is loosening its grip.
“Previously Google wanted to work directly with accounts and was accused of stealing them,” tweets Greg Sterling, co-founder of Near Media, a local and search marketing agency. “Now it needs its partner/vendor ecosystem more than ever.”
A Vicious Cycle
To understand how platforms fizzle, one must first understand the cycle of “enshittification,” writes Cory Doctorow at Wired.
Here’s how the cycle works: First, companies prioritize the user experience to attract an audience. But once a meaningful audience is locked in, platforms abuse their users to attract advertisers or business accounts. Once clients are locked in, platforms start gunning for revenue, usually through pay-to-play tactics or by increasing ad loads.
Facebook was laser-focused on keeping users connected to friends and loved ones … until it started filling feeds with sponsored posts. Thus began its long, slow process of enshittification, according to Doctorow. Those small changes over time led to the current situation, where, in a decade, Facebook went from the super-cool digital hangout of teens and young adults to being like a Hotmail email account.
This process has played out in different ways for Amazon, Google and Twitter, and it is now in full swing on TikTok as the platform transitions from its lofty position as a pure organic user engine to a machine designed to mint tens of billions of ad dollars per year.
But Wait, There’s More!
Vox Media is in talks to raise $200 million as it considers asset sales and acquisitions. [Insider] 
The promise of generative AI in 2023. [Mobile Dev Memo]
The AP says that less than 10% of its revenue comes from advertising. [Axios]
A gamer-led lawsuit to block Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard acquisition will proceed in March. []
How HBO Max marketed “The Last of Us” into a global hit. [Marketing Brew]
Dozens of journalism groups join a coalition to save local news. [Editor and Publisher]
CJ, the affiliate marketing division of Publicis, acquires influencer networking platform Perlu. [release]
You’re Hired!
Rin Kye is the new director of product, ad product growth and innovation for NBCU’s Peacock. [post] 
Strategy and brand design agency VSA Partners hires Thaddeus Ternes as VP of technology. [release]
Video AI startup ShortTok hires Amazon alum Jayan Eledath as CTO. [release]

Recommended For You