The New Digital Advertising Ecosystem Part VI: Agency Trading Desks

In the latest in our series on programmatic we take a look at Agency Trading Desks (ATDs), the independent units within media agencies that specialise in programmatic buying. In Asia we often hear ATDs referred to as Internal Ad Networks, or just as “the Programmatic team”.

Agency Trading Desks have been set up by the large agency groups to support their clients who want to buy programmatically.

Examples include Xaxis, Accuen and Vivaki. See the Holding Company, Agency and Trading desk mapping below to understand how it all fits together.

Map of Agencies and Trading Desks [PDF]

Download here.

Agency Trading Desks usually offer a transparent and data driven approach to media buying, certainly compared to standard digital media, and can deliver impressive ROIs for smart marketers. ATDs use Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) to buy their media, and utilise a combination of Real Time Buying (RTB) and direct publisher deals to get the best results. Targeting is delivered via a Data Management Platform (DMP).

We know. Too many acronyms.

In summary, programmatic is a much smarter way of buying media and SHOULD get you better results.

But it can be confusing. Agency Trading Desks do a great job of simplifying this complex world.

In addition to being the future of media, programmatic is also a major revenue growth engine for agencies, who have seen profits reduced over the past 20 years by (sometimes over zealous) client procurement teams.

Establishing ATDs as a specialist unit enables agencies to charge fees for the additional services provided, including technology, data, and bespoke media. This is good or bad for the client depending on who you listen to.

What is for certain is that programmatic is moving at high speed and Agency Trading Desks are still evolving. Some ATDs will disappear and become part of the agency, while others will remain as specialist technology units.

In Asia, programmatic is just getting started and we still haven’t seen a full roll out of ATDs beyond regional level in Singapore. Watch this space.

We should also note that there are a bunch of other trading desks operating independently across Asia outside the big agency groups including Performance Asia and CTRL/SHIFT alongside many more.

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