The Trade Desk pulls out of Google’s Open Bidding, launches own direct to publisher offering

OpenPath will allow advertisers to access inventory from partner publishers directly, circumventing some of the process' complexity.

The Trade Desk has launched OpenPath, a new offering that allows advertisers to programmatically buy ad inventory directly from publishers. And as a result, it will soon be ending its support for one of Google’s major ad buying services.

OpenPath gives advertisers using The Trade Desk’s demand-side platform direct access to inventory from publishers with which it is partnered. The company says this is an effort to remove inefficiencies and complexity from the programmatic buying process – which has resulted in wasted impressions and spending due to a lack of transparency – as well as “opaque and harmful privileges of the walled gardens.”

The company also says this will benefit advertisers, who get direct access to impressions generated by partners, as well as the publishers, who can maximize the revenue generated from those impressions by using a less complex system.

With its own offering launching, The Trade Desk also plans to turn off Google Open Bidding from its platform – and remove millions in spending – by April 15.

A spokesperson for The Trade Desk confirmed to MiC that the changes were coming to advertisers in Canada as well. However, it does not have partnerships with Canadian publishers as of yet.

“The first phase of publishers will just be in the U.S. and then we will expand globally to any publishers who are open to it,” the spokesperson said. In the U.S., partner publishers include Reuters, The Washington Post, Gannett, Conde Nast, McClatchy, Hearst, Tribune Publishing and CafeMedia, among others.

Google’s Open Bidding was launched in an effort to compete with the growing practice of header bidding, a programmatic ad practice that allows publishers to offer ad inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously – increasing the odds that they wouldn’t buy through Google.

Open Bidding was introduced as a way for publishers to invite third-party DSPs to compete for inventory and was promoted as easier to implement than header bidding. However, it was seen by some in the industry that Google’s total view of ad impressions throughout the programmatic buying process gave it an unfair advantage – allegations that were included in an anti-trust lawsuit first brought against Google in 2020, which the company has denied.

The Trade Desk has said that it will continue to buy through Google’s Ad Exchange but is requesting that its supply-side partners also begin transitioning off of Open Bidding. The company also said that it is not entering the supply side of the programmatic industry and would not be providing supply-side services. Rather, this is the latest effort in what it says is its goal to increase supply chain optimization and transparency in programmatic on behalf of advertisers.

This is also the latest effort by The Trade Desk that could challenge Google’s dominance in the ad tech industry. Last year, the company launched UID 2.0, an ad targeting solution that could serve as an alternative to the cookie-free options Google has been developing.