How The Commerce Desk went from media company BFF to frenemy

How The Commerce Desk went from media company BFF to frenemy

The Commerce Desk was as soon as seen by businesses because the useful, pleasant various to the may and heft of Google when shopping for stock programmatically. Appears these completely satisfied days have light in latest months, as a number of media businesses complain the ad-tech agency has turn into much less clear, costlier to make use of — and maybe so huge that they’ve begun to worry it. 

Why worry it? As a result of The Commerce Desk has made efforts over the past 12 months to generate a better and extra direct relationship with manufacturers — media businesses’ purchasers. But additionally as a result of, moreover in search of out negotiating clout on their very own, there’s not a lot media businesses can do since The Commerce Desk has turn into such an vital a part of programmatic shopping for and promoting of stock. 

Not one of the media businesses or analysts Digiday reached for this story would communicate for attribution, as a consequence of continued present relationships with The Commerce Desk (TTD). 

A TTD consultant refuted the businesses’ complaints, saying the agency has carried out nothing completely different within the final 12 months that may provoke them — and added that no businesses have voiced complaints about these points. 

“Our company companions are our closest allies within the transformation of the media enterprise to a extra data-driven ecosystem constructed on belief, transparency, and objectivity throughout the open web,” mentioned the consultant. 

For a lot of company merchants, TTD’s focus of energy is each from a enterprise perspective, as a result of it carried out extra constantly than, and grew steadily relative, to different distributors, but additionally as a result of it did a strong job early on of positioning itself because the anti-Google (whose DV360 is a rival to TTD) and a champion of the open net. 

Now the tables are nearly turned, not solely as a result of businesses level to poorer customer support help from TTD, however improved customer support from Google. That latter growth could have extra to do with Google experiencing its first-ever income downturn in 2022, which has maybe necessitated a kinder and friendlier method to businesses and purchasers. Nonetheless, the top outcome, to media businesses, is that TTD comes throughout as much less useful than it was once. 

So what are the complaints? 

Direct outreach to purchasers round businesses

All of the businesses reached for this story agreed TTD is approaching purchasers extra immediately. One pointed to The Commerce Desk’s more and more shut relationship with Walmart as a direct risk. 

In February 2022, TTD launched OpenPath, which labored with numerous publishers to offer advertisers with direct entry to their stock. Companies are grumbling this successfully cuts them out of the buy-sell equation. (Though one company exec famous TTD’s transfer hurts different programmatic distributors greater than it hurts businesses.)

TTD sees it fairly in a different way. “To assist our company purchasers drive goal worth in digital promoting, The Commerce Desk has lengthy pioneered and championed provide chain enhancements that enhance transparency, most just lately with the launch of OpenPath,” responded TTD’s rep. “Consequently, the relationships and alignment on the buy-side that we’ve got with our company purchasers have by no means been stronger.”

Inflated charges 

One company exec mentioned TTD utterly modified how they cost for information, shifting from a CPM price to a share of media price. One other company corroborated that, saying that charges for information that’s important to creating investments good, invaluable and efficient find yourself costing significantly greater than they used to, as a lot as double the price of different (non-Google) DSPs. 

A 3rd exec expressed frustration TTD costs “a big quantity of charges” so as to use its UID 2.0 resolution (TTD’s proposed post-cookie identifier solution), and doesn’t go away room for negotiation — they’re merely put forth as take it or go away it. (TTD’s rep responded that there aren’t any charges for UID 2.0 and that it’s open-sourced.)

TTD responds that the take charge for charges has really stayed the identical at round 20% over the past eight years, at 21.1% in 2014, and fluctuating barely up and down in ensuing years and most just lately at 19.4% in 2022.  

Rising opacity in its merchandise/companies

One programmatic skilled at an company famous that TTD is seemingly not collaborating in a Google-led program that goals to carry extra transparency to the DSP course of — known as “Confirming Gross Income.” The skilled did acknowledge that Google and TTD are direct opponents within the DSP house, however nonetheless felt that not collaborating equated to having one thing to cover.  

“We’ve constructed our platform to allow our purchasers to use information that make their digital advert buys exact and clear,” mentioned TTD’s rep. 

In the long run, it is going to more than likely come right down to dimension and negotiation. In case your holding firm is sufficiently big, you’ll probably be capable of negotiate on the charges. The smaller the company, the much less wiggle room it should reduce offers. However the entire concept of programmatic is that it’s non-guaranteed, famous one company exec, so locking in pricing defeats the aim. 

But it surely’s attainable that different DSPs and programmatic distributors could have the prospect to realize just a little floor right here, mentioned one analyst observing the strain between the 2 sides. Some businesses are designed to work round a programmatic workflow, and that may imply having to both work with what TTD presents — or attempt to discover it elsewhere. 

One company government at a programmatic specialty store disagreed with a lot of the different businesses’ arguments, chalking up the emotions to resentment about clout. “Whether or not it’s The Commerce Desk or Google or Amazon, folks are inclined to not prefer it when platforms turn into very highly effective,” mentioned the exec “No person likes dropping leverage.”

The exec did acknowledge that each one DSPs, not simply TTD, have to rethink the quantity of charges utilized to bigger assured campaigns that don’t contain retargeting, frequency capping or different work DSPs do.

“I kinda may get comfy with paying 20% of my media finances by way of a DSP for that retargeting marketing campaign, however I’m by no means comfy paying 20% of my TV finances to a DSP that’s only a workflow instrument,” mentioned the exec.

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