The New Dirty Word in Advertising: Exchange

Exchange as the new dirty wordLet’s get it out in the open.

Exchange is the new dirty word for agencies and advertisers – and even a few exchanges.

Many advertisers and their agencies are running scared of exchanges these days as concern persists about brand safety and low quality remnant media.

The most successful of the exchanges (arguably), Right Media, has had scuffles with advertisers about their ads appearing on pages with little to do with campaign goals. Also, certain advertiser media on the Right Media Exchange has been alleged to be questionable in its goals and legality (See the issues raised by Ben Edelman.). We see this as the growing pains of an emerging model.

Yet, there appears to be a movement away from using the word “exchange” at all for some exchanges.

In 2007, Traffiq announced on its home page (see’s link), “Traffiq: The First and Only Transparent Ad Exchange Is Now Open.”

Today, the word marketplace has taken over and with no mention of “exchange” on the Traffiq site which has the headline, “Traffiq is the industry’s only free digital media management platform integrated seamlessly into a premium buying marketplace.”


Over at Turn, “smart market” is the new descriptive even though exchange terminology and technology remain. The “Turn Market Index” is a clever marketing angle showing eCPM, CTR and other market trends on the “exchange” or “smart market,” whatever you prefer. But, in an interview with Turn CEO Jim Barnett in early 2008, VentureBeat said, “Barnett says no other advertising exchange offers this sort of service with as much sophistication.”


Yahoo!’s Apt Platform is the next step in the evolution of the Right Media Exchange and, of course, there is only mention of the word “platform” – no “exchange.”


Overall, the name changes are not a sign that the exchange model is dying or dead – not in the least. Companies are trying to drive business in tough economic times and doing what they can to attract ad dollars. Nonetheless, the underlying technology is that of the exchange which will breed the openness and efficiency that agencies, advertisers and publishers all seek.

What can be learned by everyone is that better controls and less embarassment are desired by all sides to make this model work.

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