Where Are The Ad-Tech Advocates For The Open Web?

  • by , Featured Contributor, October 6, 2022

I love reading reports on our industry from super-smart Laura Martin, senior equity analyst at Needham & Company. Martin sees developments in ad tech, media and marketing early in ways very few others spot, and she presents her analysis with arguments that even fewer can challenge or refute.

Yesterday, she released her “Top 10 Takeaways” from The Trade Desk’s four-hour Analyst Day on Tuesday in New York City, a hotly watched event given the company’s strong stock price, high-powered growth and strong leadership position in the fast-growing world of CTV and digital ad targeting data.

Martin's report called out the Trade Desk’s leadership position in digital advertising and connected TV advertising specifically (the fastest growing sector in advertising), and the company's targeting data business that is now growing faster than its platform revenue.

She noted the company’s position as the dominant demand-side platform for the “Open Web,” the multitude of mid-tail and long-tail publishers not controlled by the large walled gardens of Google, Facebook and Amazon -- and the strong advocacy of its CEO, Jeff Green, for strategies and technologies to create alternatives for advertisers to the walled garden behemoths.



Of particular interest in her report was Green’s open question, wondering why other industry leaders were relatively silent on the Open Web issue. He voiced his surprise that after these many years of advocating for open web capabilities in ad tech to counter the power of Google and others, he still felt quite alone in his public advocacy on the issue among other corporate leaders.

Here are my thoughts (supplemented by some recent conversations with others) on what's happened to Open Web advocacy in ad tech:

The Trade Desk buried several of them. Many of the strongest Open Web voices were the leaders of competing companies, who have either sold or been relegated to second- or third-tier market positions, where their voices no longer carry much weight.

Plenty of advocacy from identity data platforms. Companies like Criteo and LiveRamp may not be what Green is thinking about, but their CEOs, Megan Clarken and Scott Howe, respectively, have certainly been big advocates on this issue. But they also compete in the targeting data world.

We’re not where  we should be. At the end of the day, Green is right. Ad-tech companies and ad industry leaders are quieter on Open Web issues than we should be. Maintaining balance and competition with the duopoly/triopoly of digital advertising is critical for the long-term health and success of the industry. Many will depend on us being noisier and taking stronger and more visible positions.

What do you think? Is there enough Open Web advocacy?

3 comments about "Where Are The Ad-Tech Advocates For The Open Web?".
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  1. Stephen Johnston from PubWise, LLLP, October 6, 2022 at 5:42 p.m.

    At PuBise we are very much committed to open web philosophies. We've been building adtech and managed services from a publisher perspective. I would love to see more conversation about the open web. More discussion about the value of the "not walled garden" segement of the market. A reduction in the overfocus on the public company walled garden concerns and considerations. The large, innovative and diverse middle of the market is a great place to be.

  2. Phil Guarascio from PG Ventures LLC, October 6, 2022 at 9:14 p.m.

    Well said, dave. Wonder if the ANA or 4A's will weigh in on this? They should. 


  3. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, October 7, 2022 at 7:13 p.m.

    Dave, I have followed your articles and opinions for years. You, in my opinion represent what is best for the net and advertising and have greatest respect. 

     With that, I have been one of the strongest voices for a open web. Especially considering I am one of the main plaintiffs against Google in the class-action lawsuit. The suit is mostly about anti-competitive prractices by Google. I have seen evidence that should scare anyone in the online ad industry. Why? because I figured out how to beat Google with a superior service in my target market. What has happened to me could happen to others. 

    Ingenity is what made the advertising industry great and is what is lacking now. The ad industry today has been duped into thinking the only way to advertise online is with a programmatic. Not true. I weclome a open discussion on the subject of the open web.

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