- The Trade Desk is introducing a new product that aims to provide advertisers with more direct access to premium inventory from top publishers like The Washington Post and Reuters, an announcement said.
- OpenPath allows publishers to integrate directly with the demand-side platform (DSP), creating a clearer view of ad impressions generated by their sites for advertisers. The idea is to cut out other players in a programmatic supply chain that The Trade Desk described as "opaque" and skewed to privilege walled gardens.
- The Trade Desk is at the same time winding down its use of Google's Open Bidding tool, with plans to fully depart the platform by April 15. While the DSP will continue to buy inventory through Google's Ad Exchange, the debut of OpenPath is a shot across the bow at a search giant many independent ad-tech firms see as wielding outsized control over the digital ecosystem.
Through OpenPath, The Trade Desk said it is making its most significant step to improve supply chain optimization in programmatic media since its inception in 2009. The idea behind the solution is simple: Publishing partners pair more closely with the DSP and interested advertisers, in turn, gain direct access to their inventory without having to deal with a bunch of intermediaries. This setup intends to promote less opaque price competition while maximizing value for all parties, according to The Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green.
The Trade Desk emphasized that the move isn't an attempt to expand into the supply side of the business. Instead, OpenPath is positioned as leveling the playing field for advertisers that may be frustrated navigating a complex programmatic space that's long been riddled with transparency issues and dominated by a handful of platforms.
OpenPath already has an extensive list of premium publishing partners. Along with the Post and Reuters, Gannett, Condé Nast, Hearst, McClatchy, Advance Local, MediaNews Group, Tribune Publishing, Nexstar Digital and CafeMedia are signed on. For those sites, the tool could forward initiatives around areas of increasing importance, like first-party data sharing and fostering more direct relationships with clients.
Of course, the launch also serves as a meaningful swipe at Google, a sore spot for independent ad-tech companies like The Trade Desk. Several years ago, an ad-serving tactic called header bidding started to gain traction as publishers looked to avoid paying out ad exchange fees to Google when running auctions. Not long after, the search giant set up Open Bidding, an alternative solution to header bidding that has since been widely adopted.
Recently unsealed court documents revealed that Google viewed header bidding as a potential "existential threat." The documents were made available as part of an amended antitrust complaint against Google that alleges the company worked closely with Facebook through a project internally dubbed "Jedi Blue" that was meant to ward off the competition and thrust Open Bidding on the industry. Facebook and Google together control the vast majority of digital ad spending and are frequently referred to as a duopoly.