The video streaming platform most similar to Fire TV, Roku, takes a more open programmatic approach.
Roku uses a waterfall bidding process, and ensures its DSP has choice inventory selections and can meet all guaranteed deals, Talreja said. Even with that setup, a DSP like The Trade Desk still has near total visibility across Roku inventory, and bids against the Roku DSP.
Roku still holds walled garden-like advantages that guard its user data. The Roku advertising ID is obfuscated, so outside DSPs can’t track across Roku apps (similar to how Apple’s IDFA changes make it harder to track users going from app to app in iOS), or connect open web audiences to Roku audiences.
But Roku’s open programmatic approach stymies its own DSP adoption, said Vinny Rinaldi, head of investment and activation for the GroupM agency Wavemaker.
Rinaldi knows the walled garden perspective, too, since he was principal of the Amazon DSP’s programmatic partnerships with agencies until he joined Wavemaker in April.
Advertisers making direct deals with Roku might get favorable rates compared to buying the same inventory on Roku’s programmatic market, Rinaldi said. But The Trade Desk has a strong pitch as well, that it sees across all programmatic video and CTV, and can place Roku audiences in a broader advertising campaign, or control for frequency across media instead of on a single CTV service.
If an advertiser wants to show an ad to a user 10 times in a week, for example, Roku can target that same individual at a favorable rate, compared to any other platform buying those 10 Roku impressions.
The Trade Desk’s pitch is that they can target that individual 10 times in a week, (including a couple times on Roku), with the other impressions coming from other CTV sources. Overall, The Trade Desk’s 10 impressions may be cheaper, despite having paid more for those Roku spots.
“That’s where the platform control factors are starting to come into play,” Rinaldi said.
The move to close off outside DSPs may backfire on Amazon, if buyers end up going directly to broadcasters for Fire TV ads, Talreja said. But does Amazon’s first-party data advantage make it compelling enough to disregard the programmatic market?
“I guess we’ll see,” she said.
But if history is any guide, Amazon Fire TV won’t turn back to its former open programmatic approach.
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