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Break down walled gardens to reach more consumers at scale, says The Trade Desk


By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

March 29, 2019 | 6 min read

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As the growing demand for advertisers to change the power and influence of the walled gardens cultivates, how long will it be before the industry sees these barriers break down?

Marketers need to pull down walled gardens to reach more consumers at scale, says The Trade Desk

Marketers need to pull down walled gardens to reach more consumers at scale, says The Trade Desk

The Trade Desk's, Anna Forbes, general manager UK speaks to The Drum about how long the era of walled gardens will last, whether or not data democracy is important, what marketers are missing out on and how they can stay ahead of the game when it comes to consumer data and innovation.

How long can the walled garden era last?

There is currently a lot of debate about the power and influence of the walled gardens – to the extent that governments across the world are starting to become involved. I actually don’t think that it will take a legislative push to break down the walls, as we are already seeing a growing demand from advertisers for change.

With digital ad spend continuing to grow, it’s becoming more important than ever for brands to take a considered approach to where they’re spending their money. The walled gardens currently make it very easy to execute advertising - but there are equally easy and exciting opportunities for brands to engage with consumers on the open web.

We’re already seeing increasing appetite from advertisers to diversify beyond the walled gardens and it’s only a matter of time until these companies are encouraged to change the way they operate to accommodate that.

Why is data democracy important?

The portability of data is the key to unlocking innovation in advertising. But, for many advertisers, key metrics and insights from their campaigns are currently locked within the parameters of the walled gardens.

Brands need to own the rights to their audience data if they are to innovate and improve future campaigns, as well as being able to control the user journey across other channels outside of the walled gardens. Excellent advertising is only possible if data is shared in a democratic and accessible way.

What are marketers missing out on due to the current set-up?

First and foremost, marketers are missing out on the ability to scale. Audiences don’t live in a walled garden. I see too many being fooled into thinking that the only way to engage at scale is by operating within the walled gardens, when in fact the reach in the open ecosystem is much bigger. Not only can marketers reach more consumers, they also have the opportunity to do so in the places they spend more time – whether that’s news sites, Spotify or Connected TV. Contrary to popular belief, people don’t just sit on social media all day.

The second issue is that it’s impossible for marketers to truly know how well their campaigns are working. Only in the open ecosystem can brands have full clarity and confidence over how campaign performance is measured – and the freedom to choose which partners they use for attribution.

The Trade Desk champions open ecosystems, will walled gardens ever democratise their data assets?

Walled gardens currently have a lot of power – which means there is little impetus for them to democratise their data assets.

Compare this to the open ecosystem, where brands have access to and visibility of a broader range of metrics that allow them to understand the tangible results their campaigns are delivering – and therefore see their true ROI. The more the industry works together to share information, the better this offering becomes.

As marketers become increasingly aware of this opportunity, pressure will mount on the walled gardens to operate in a more transparent and co-operative way.

How can marketers stay ahead, especially when it comes to things like consumer data and innovation?

Marketers are creative creatures. Their number one priority is to make memorable, thought-provoking, unique campaigns that deliver brand objectives – and that’s exactly what they should be focusing on to stay ahead. With so much data at their fingertips, this should be easy - but all too often, they don’t have the time they need to digest this data and turn it into the actionable insights that will make their next campaign stand out.

This is why a big focus for us at The Trade Desk has been to develop innovative tech that does the heavy lifting for marketers. Our new artificial intelligence engine ‘Koa’ helps marketers by crunching through vast amounts of data in a split second to make recommendations throughout the whole campaign process – from planning to finding the perfect audience to bidding at the optimum price.

Marketers must work strategically with partners up and down the ecosystem to make the most of the capabilities they can offer. Which returns me to my earlier point – great advertising is reliant on a transparent, open ecosystem in which all players act in a co-operative and accessible way.

The Trade Desk are a sponsor of The Drum Digital Advertising Awards 2019. The nominations have been revealed and tables for the awards ceremony, on May 1 at at The Marriott Hotel, Grovesnor Square, London, can be purchased here.

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