Technical Mumbo Jumbo – Independent Trading Desk

One of my favorite movies is “The Big Short,” which follows a few outsiders and misfits from the financial sector who accurately predicted the 2008 financial crisis. Aside from an amazing cast and incredible script, the movie is so good because it does an excellent job of explaining the crisis and peripheral financial concepts in laymen terms; often using A-list actors to break it down for the audience. Early on in the film, Ryan Gosling’s character states:

“Wall Street loves to use confusing terms to make you think they can only do what they do.”

It may not be for the same motive, but the digital advertising ecosystem seems to be just as guilty when it comes to throwing around technical jargon. But I’d venture to say that it’s even worse than on Wall St. because all the mumbo jumbo not only confuses those outside of the industry, but also those within. That is why we have decided to have a column of sorts on our Blog entitled: Technical Mumbo Jumbo. Every few weeks we will highlight a term or concept from the adtech world, define as we understand it based on extensive research, and comment on where confusion lies, if any.

For our debut article, we have decided to be very meta and highlight the term that defines what kind of company Evolution Media Group is considered: Independent Trading Desk (ITD), which is a company that leverages one or more DSP technologies to act as a trading desk for advertisers/agencies. We have found that while there isn’t confusion about the term, it simply is not often used and therefore, unknown.

The best way to elaborate on an Independent Trading Desk is to articulate the options available to an advertiser or agency interested in buying media in a programmatic method. The are arguably three:

  • In-house/self service
  • Managed Services of a DSP
  • Third Party

An Independent Trading Desk falls within the last category of a third party. It’s also important to note what it is not, which is an Agency Trading Desk (ATD). An ATD operates nearly identical to an Independent Trading Desk, but is distinguished by it’s ownership, which typically is by a larger media company. So to summarize, an Independent Trading Desk is a company that leverages more than one DSP to buy media on behalf of an advertiser/agency that is independently owned.

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