The Trade Desk brings its ad platform to China

The Trade Desk heads to mobile-first China

The Trade Desk has officially launched its programmatic ad buying platform in China.

The adtech company brought its demand-side platform to China last year with a beta launch that delivered multi-channel campaigns for brands in verticals such as hospitality, luxury retail and education.

The Trade Desk already has partnerships with Baidu Exchange Services, Baidu-owned video platform iQIYI, Tencent and Alibaba-owned video platform Youku, giving its brand and agency partners access to inventory across a range of Chinese media and formats.

Jeff Green, chief executive officer and founder of The Trade Desk, sees China as an untapped market. Green said 85% of the company’s revenue comes from North America, and half of the remaining revenue comes out of Europe.

However, according to data from The Trade Desk, APAC will be the largest advertising region in the world by 2022, and China will lead the way as the country’s media spend is currently growing at around 14% per year, about twice as fast as growth in the US.

Green said the company is looking to take an “outside-in” approach with its non-Chinese partners when bringing first-party data into China, which will ideally lead to incremental spend.

The Trade Desk first came to China in 2016 and has since been rebuilding its offerings to abide by Chinese regulations.

“You have to make certain there's lots of editorial control, meaning that every creative needs to be submitted to the government and registered,” said Green. “We have to go through careful creative audit and review processes, and we as a company are doing that on behalf of every one of our clients.

"We put a lot of risk to make certain that we do it and do it right, and we've taken years to make certain we do that well."

The Trade Desk has also grown out its physical presence in China. Jed Dederick, vice-president of business development at The Trade Desk, said the company has built out its creative approval team and is hiring in-market for its product, engineering and partnership teams.

The Trade Desk has also partnered with Chinese companies like Adbug and RTBAsia to protect against fraud and ensure brand safety, according to Dederick.

One key concern The Trade Desk and its inventory partners are looking to address is viewability.

Benson Ho, chief data strategy officer for Tencent Marketing Solution, said he is hoping to “create a better standard” for viewability with this partnership.

"Our audience, scale, and insights, combined with the transparency, reach, and control offered by The Trade Desk’s platform ensures that innovative marketers can understand and engage with consumers in China throughout their entire journey," said Ho.

As of 2018, Tencent Video saw 137 million daily users on mobile. Tencent-owned WeChat earns more than 1 billion monthly users.

All of this mobile-first inventory in a country with different rules and regulations means marketers need to go through an education process.

Global digital marketing consultant Devin Beringer, who worked in China for 10 years, said marketers need to fit their creatives for mobile, especially mobile video. He also highlighted the utility of native formats integrated into messenger apps.

Krish Sailam, global senior vice-president of programmatic solutions at DWA, said brands need to have the same KPIs in each region, understand local content regulations and overcome language barriers to understand inventory.

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