Differences between ad exchanges and agency trading desk [webinar question]

Earlier this month, we hosted  a webinar detailing the basics of programmatic media buying . We received a number of questions about the digital advertising ecosystem and the players. Over the next few weeks, we plan to answer each one of your questions that we received to make sure you have a handle on the complexities around online media buying.

If you didn't have a chance to attend the webinar, click here to sign up here to be notified of future webinars and other Kantar Media SRDS news.

Here's the first question we received from an attendee.

What's the difference between an exchange and a trading desk?

Ad exchanges and trading desks are actually very different, but at a high level, they are both two intermediaries in the digital advertising ecosystem. In general, trading desks serve agencies/buyers, while exchanges are third-party platforms where both buyers and sellers transact. Some more details:

Trading desks are centralized management platforms used by ad agencies that specialize in programmatic media buying and audience buying. Their goal is to help buyers/clients improve performance and get more value from their digital ad spend as well as transfer a lot of the buying power, which was traditionally outsourced to networks and exchanges, to within the agency. Also, trading desk staff don't just plan and buy media. They measure results and report audience insights to their clients.

Ad exchanges are third-party intermediaries and do not specifically serve either the buyer or seller. They are agnostic real-time bidding technology platforms that expedite, facilitate and simplify the buying and selling of ad inventory from multiple ad networks and advertisers. Exchanges allow advertisers to buy direct inventory without middle men (such as ad networks) inflating costs. And they allow publishers to control supply and pricing and monetize previously unsold inventory without focusing sales teams on smaller clients.

Do you have a question about digital advertising? Contact us here and we may feature it on the blog.

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