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We’re launching into 2018 with a series that looks ahead to our next 12 months and features insights from our top partners. Today’s expert: The Trade Desk’s Chief Client Officer Brian Stempeck*. 

* Please note that all answers are the personal opinions of the interviewee, not of their employer.

What is the most exciting thing that happened to your company in 2017? 

I’m most proud of our deal with White Ops, where we filter out fraudulent ads before they hit our platform. Internally, when we talk about marketplace quality we sometimes use the analogy, “If you’re running a market, don’t put outdated milk on the shelves.” But when it comes to fraudulent inventory, our industry – to continue the metaphor – basically tells advertisers, “Oh, you bought bad milk? You can return it!” We don’t think that’s good enough. Consumers don’t want to buy bad milk, and advertisers don’t want fraudulent ads. We want to keep poor quality ad inventory off of our shelves in the first place.

What do brands need to have mastered in 2017 to be ready to compete in 2018?

  1. I think brands are still thinking about fixed CPMs too much when they buy media. The beauty of programmatic is paying a different price based on what you know about the audience, or the ad inventory. If I can show a consumer an ad on a Connected TV, and I have really good audience data, I should be willing to pay a higher CPM, since as the advertiser, I have a more efficient campaign. Higher CPMs also mean the content owner or network can show fewer ads and make the same amount of money, or more. And the ad is more relevant for the consumer. If we stay in the world of, “Well, I want audience targeting, but a lower CPM than I had before,” it won’t work.
  2. Advertisers need to get more comfortable with big data. We now look at 9 million ads per second globally. We have log-level data on every impression bought. This is hugely valuable information on your customers that we can share with them:  “Here are the 72 ads someone saw on three different devices before they bought your product.” That’s hugely insightful. But some of our clients don’t yet have the infrastructure to ingest that scale of data.

What do you see as the major trends in your industry for 2018? 

Mobile has been and will continue to be huge for The Trade Desk, and the entire industry. Mobile (In-App, Video, and Web) increased to 40% of total spend on our platform for Q3 2017.  Spotify, in-app, and location targeting are all areas of growth. And we are seeing rapid growth in Southeast Asia and other markets where mobile comes first, and everything else is a rounding error.

What should brands focus on this coming year to stay ahead of competition?   

Offline attribution. The vast majority of digital campaigns are still based on goals like CTR, CPA, GRP. Why? The metrics used to determine a campaign’s success need to evolve with the measurement capabilities technology now offers. If you can tie your campaign for laundry detergent to actual sales of laundry detergent in-store, that’s the holy grail for a marketer. The technology is there, but marketer habits are still evolving.

If you could invest $50 million in the most promising upcoming technology in your industry (outside of your own company), what would you invest in?    

Cross-device measurement and targeting. Consumer behavior is so fragmented across devices. It is REALLY hard to be a marketer today. We are actively investing in this area, with our recent acquisition of cross-device ID company, Adbrain, and our continued investment to license deterministic cross-device data sets. We want to help brands tell stories across devices, and then have the information to understand what channels worked best.

If you could invest $50 million in the most promising upcoming technology in marketing (outside of your own company), what would you invest in?   

I’d invest in one of the new content services popping up, like Cheddar. They are reinventing the news for today’s viewers. The barriers to entry for content creation are so low now – I think there will be more companies like this that master Connected TV in the same way that CNN led the creation of the cable news category.

What big change in your product or service will be a game changer in 2018?     

In early 2018 we will launch a cross-channel planning tool. Programmatic is getting bigger and becoming less of a single line on the media plan. Also, people are buying on so many different channels on our platform now and they’re thinking more about cross-channel measurement and reach and frequency.  Our cross-channel planning tool will help media planners decide where to spend. Because we look at 9 million ads per second across the internet, we can do very advanced analysis of what an advertiser’s current customer base is doing. That way, they can plan out the media buy with deep insights, before they actually spend a penny on media.

What is one ‘reach-for-the-stars’ innovation that you’d like to see in the next 5 years?   

I’d like to see the gap between creative content and programmatic capabilities narrow a bit.  Creative teams need to be more data-driven and experiment with audiences to discover new ways to engage with consumers. Marketers should dream up fresh, creative campaigns to take advantage of the reach, targeting, and control that programmatic offers. Too often today, the precision of the media execution far outweighs that of the creative.

As Chief Client Officer for The Trade Desk, Brian oversees all of the company’s relationships with brands, agencies and advertisers. Stempeck leads The Trade Desk’s New York City office and specializes in educating agencies about the evolving world of real-time bidding, and helping them develop and manage online marketing strategies for clients.

Read more 2018 predictions from 3Q Partners and Experts by clicking here.