Dispute erupts between TTD and Yahoo over video ad inventory

Dispute erupts between The Trade Desk & Yahoo over video ad labeling. The Trade Desk restricts Yahoo video ads for some advertisers citing IAB guidelines. Negotiations ongoing.

The Trade Desk vs Yahoo
The Trade Desk vs Yahoo

A major disagreement has arisen between The Trade Desk and Yahoo, concerning the labeling of video ad inventory, Digiday today reported. This dispute has resulted in The Trade Desk restricting access to Yahoo's video ads for some advertisers.

Last month, Yahoo! Sports scored as a top publisher on The Trade Desk's top 100 publishers list.

The core of the disagreement centers on how Yahoo labels its video ad inventory, particularly those sold through open marketplaces. The Trade Desk argues that Yahoo is inaccurately classifying some video ads as "in-stream" inventory.

In-stream video ads typically play before, during, or after a piece of video content, offering a more premium ad placement compared to other formats. Advertisers are willing to pay more for in-stream ads due to their increased potential to capture user attention.

The Trade Desk believes Yahoo is miscategorizing some video ads as in-stream when they don't meet the latest industry standards. These ads might be more akin to accompanying content, which appears alongside the main content but doesn't hold the same value as a true in-stream ad.

The Trade Desk's concerns stem from a desire to ensure advertisers receive the type of ad inventory they are paying for. If Yahoo's video ads are not truly in-stream, advertisers might be overpaying for less valuable placements.

This year, Google also updated video guidelines that require seamlessly integrated in-stream ads into the stream of video content, where the video content is the primary focus of the user's visit or explicitly requested by the user. These ads can appear before, during, or after the main video content.

Timeline of events reported by Digiday

  • Early June 2024: The Trade Desk informs media buying teams about its concerns with Yahoo's video ad labeling practices and the possibility of restricting trading.
  • June 17, 2024: The Trade Desk follows through on its initial threat, blocking access to Yahoo's open marketplace video inventory for some advertisers.
  • June 2024 (ongoing): Negotiations between The Trade Desk and Yahoo are underway to resolve the dispute.

The Trade Desk cites the latest Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) guidelines as the basis for its stance on in-stream video ad definitions. These guidelines aim to establish clear definitions for various ad formats to ensure transparency and fairness in the online advertising industry.

What are in-stream video ads?

IAB Tech Lab defines in-stream video ads as ads served within a video player, typically before, during, or after streaming content. These ads are meant to be seen in an environment where video is the main focus.

The IAB offers some technical specifications to differentiate between in-stream and out-stream ads:

  • In-stream ads must be set to have sound on by default when the player starts.
  • Out-stream ads, where sound is off by default, need to be signaled differently in ad buying systems.

These distinctions are important for both advertisers and publishers. Advertisers want to ensure they are paying for placements where users are likely to see and hear their ads. Publishers need to correctly categorize their ad inventory to avoid compatibility issues and negative user experiences.

Potential Outcomes

The outcome of this dispute hinges on the negotiations between The Trade Desk and Yahoo. Several possibilities exist:

  • Resolution: Both parties reach an agreement on video ad labeling practices, and The Trade Desk lifts the restrictions on Yahoo's inventory.
  • Continued Impasse: The disagreement persists, potentially leading to The Trade Desk further restricting access to Yahoo's video ads, including private marketplace deals.
  • Industry Impact: The dispute could spark broader discussions within the advertising industry regarding video ad standards and labeling practices.

The current disagreement between The Trade Desk and Yahoo highlights the importance of clear and consistent labeling practices in online advertising. Reaching a resolution that adheres to industry standards will be crucial to ensure both advertisers receive the value they expect and publishers can effectively monetize their video content.

It's important to remember that The Trade Desk and Yahoo are also competitors in the advertising technology (ad tech) space. Both companies offer Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) which enable advertisers to purchase ad inventory across various platforms. This competitive dynamic existed already in 2022, when Yahoo filed a lawsuit against a former employee who allegedly stole trade secrets related to Yahoo DSP, the AI backbone AdLearn, after being hired to The Trade Desk.

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