The Trade Desk Founder Talks Connected TV, Netflix’s “Inevitable” Ad Future & More

The Trade Desk Founder Talks Connected TV, Netflix’s “Inevitable” Ad Future & More
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You may have seen him grace the stage earlier this month at Advertising Week in Sydney, and while he was Down Under, Jeff Green was kind enough to chew the fat with B&T.

He’s the founder, CEO, and chairman of programmatic behemoth The Trade Desk (TTD), which in its latest earnings update revealed a 57 per cent jump in revenue to $272.2 million for the first half of 2018.

Green said a large part of the company’s recent success comes down to its business model.

“When we went public, we did something that nobody in our space had done previously, which was manage expectations on Wall Street, so we could do what we said over and over again and deliver predictable and recurring revenue,” he told B&T.

“Part of the reason why the stock has performed so well over the last couple of years is because we say we’re going to do something and we just do it, and Wall Street has grown to trust us.

“Honestly, two years ago they didn’t – not because we’d done anything not to deserve trust, but because in their minds we were in the wrong category. We’ve changed that by doing what we said.”

However, Green reckons the most impressive thing TTD has achieved to date is the almost 900-strong team it’s assembled across the globe.

The company has implemented a “no arseholes” policy as part of its stringent vetting process for employees, according to its founder.

“We’ve assembled an amazing team, we have a unique culture, we have a super-clear strategy, and we have a group of people who are really committed to that strategy,” Green said.

One of those people who is part of the TTD team is Netflix’s chief financial officer, David Wells, who sits on the company’s board.

Green said that while Netflix has an aversion towards advertising, he believes it won’t be a matter of if, but when, the streaming giant will introduce an ad-supported model.

“In the US, Netflix has had to raise its price three or four times in the last 18 months, and it’s because the price of content keeps going up,” he said.

“As the cost of content keeps going up, the ability to do that without ads is harder and harder.

TTD’s founder said the success of other streaming models such as Hulu and Spotify further indicate that it’s worth including an ad-funded model.

“So, when you look at those tea leaves, and then you also look at Netflix’s aspiration to grow internationally beyond the US, there are very few markets that have a median household income similar to the United States,” he said.

“Australia is one of them, but when you’re done growing in the US and the UK, a few places in Europe and Australia, if you want to go where all the GDP growth in the world is, I think an ad-funded model’s inevitable.”

The future of programmatic (and TTD)

Over the next five to 10 years, Green believes programmatic will no longer be talked about like it’s a separate thing.

However, he noted that the pressure companies like TTD are putting on the way the industry transacts is still being misinterpreted as some sort of attack on traditional media.

“We sometimes make this about old school media versus new media, and that’s not what programmatic is about – it’s about a better way of transacting,” he said.

“We’re enabling traditional media. We’re trying to help them transition. We want journalism to be as strong as it has ever been before, and the way to do that is not to say ‘we love paper’.”

So, what’s next for TTD?

“We’ve said before that everything we’ve done today is a dress rehearsal for television,” Green said.

“The move of consumers to connected TV is without a doubt the most exciting thing that’s happening today in media, and it’s happening right now at an amazing clip.

“If you add up connected TV, online video, mobile video, and traditional television, it’s almost half the advertising pie. So, as that transitions, that represents the biggest opportunity our company’s ever seen and maybe ever will see.”

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