The Trade Desk Inc (TTD - Free Report) is quietly growing an increasing share of the targeted online advertising market with an approach that blends innovative technology and the price discovery process of the securities markets. Because they operate largely behind the scenes, they’re not a household name – yet – but you’ve probably seen hundreds or thousands of their customers’ ads already without even being aware how they got in front of you.
The Old Way
Imagine you’re the owner of a business with a truly innovative new set of goods and services. You’re confident that as soon as the public knows about your products, they’ll be beating a path to your door, but how do you get your message out?
Not long ago, you had two basic choices, traditional advertising (print, TV/Radio, billboards, etc), or hiring a sales force to personally interact with potential customers and explain why they should buy from you. Both were fairly expensive and the only way to gauge your results was to wait and see if your sales changed.
The (Sort-of) New Way
Widespread use of the internet changed all that in a big way. Suddenly, it became possible to reach a vast audience relatively inexpensively. Unfortunately for advertisers, most ads were lost in a sea of promotional come-ons and the ad-buyer really had no way to focus on the exact customers they wanted.
Those days are over.
The new norm is targeted advertising, combining big-data analysis and sophisticated algorithms that allow advertisers to reach the exact audience they crave. Unfortunately, the pricing mechanism for online advertising has been a blunt tool, with ad-buyers guessing how much any given ad or ad campaign was worth to them in terms of increased sales.
The Trade Desk is changing that in a hurry.
The New-New Way
Ventura, CA based TTD was founded by CEO Jeff Green who had previous experience in both the securities markets and in online advertising as a digital media buyer and subsequently as the founder of his own digital ad agency which was eventually acquired by Microsoft. He applied both disciplines to create a set of tools that allows customers to bid on highly targeted ads in real time and accurately assess the efficacy of their campaigns.
Breaking from the old practice of block advertising which put ads in front of as wide an audience as possible scattershot-style, Green’s new processes offers access to marketing spots on websites, mobile and even wired TV and Streaming music services. Customers bid in a real-time auction for their ads to be viewed (or heard) based on the size and quality of the audience. Premium content tends to command premium prices and ads on less attractive channels sell for less.
The Trade Desk applications consider between 5 and 9 million placement opportunities per second, assuring that customers get exactly what they need. Large accounts report savings of 50% over traditional internet ads – and with better penetration into their desired markets.
The Trade Desk also provides detailed analytics, giving customers access to data about the effectiveness of their ads and a comprehensive education course about digital advertising in general and how to get the most out of TTD’s services.
TTD shares have been on a roll, up 195% since its 2016 IPO - versus 17% for the internet services market in the same period. The company has bested the Zacks Consensus Earnings Estimate for seven consecutive quarters and rapidly rising analyst estimates earn it a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).
Unlike companies that sell physical goods, TTDs offerings are all digital, so large numbers of customers can be brought on board quickly and at very low marginal cost - and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing, growing revenues from $308M in 2017 to an expected $$434M in 2018 and $554M in 2019.
With $61.4 billion spent on online and mobile ads in 2017, there’s plenty of room to grow.
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