The Trade Desk shuts advertisers’ access to Yahoo’s video content

The Trade Desk disabled access to Yahoo’s video inventory across the open market on June 17 in a dispute over how the latter labels its media inventory, and while negotiations are ongoing, further repercussions are in prospect.

It’s the latest stage in a months-long dispute in which The Trade Desk’s marketplace quality team is dissatisfied with Yahoo’s declaration of its video advertising inventory as in-stream when sold via open marketplaces.

The industry’s largest independent demand-side platform maintains Yahoo’s approach to labeling in-stream ad inventory does not comply with the latest industry standards; rather, they interpret its definition as more akin to “accompanying content”— ad inventory that commands less of a premium price tag.

Earlier this month, representatives of The Trade Desk began notifying media buying teams of such concerns, saying that, while negotiations with Yahoo were ongoing, the DSP could soon start restricting trading with the media owner.

For example, The Trade Desk claimed it would cut open marketplace access to Yahoo’s video inventory if the issue wasn’t resolved by June 17. Additionally, if the dispute runs beyond the initial deadline, it would further disable access to all of Yahoo’s video inventory, including via private marketplace deals, on July 1.

It appears that the two companies are still in a deadlock, despite discussions between executives earlier this week at the advertising industry’s marquee trade conference, the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

According to sources, The Trade Desk disabled access to Yahoo’s video inventory across the open market on June 17. Executives from both companies are still in negotiations, albeit the prospect of the DSP’s marketplace quality team further restricting access to Yahoo ad space remains.

“We continue to work with our publishing partners to adhere to industry standards,” read a statement shared with Digiday by a spokesperson for The Trade Desk. “After informing clients we would be blocking incorrectly declared inventory, we have been working with Yahoo and expect resolution soon.”

It’s understood that Yahoo executives feel The Trade Desk’s interpretation of the latest IAB guidelines on what constitutes in-stream ad inventory was out of step with others in the industry, with a statement attributed to Yahoo’s vp of corporate comms, Erin Miller, hinting at frustration from those quarters.

“The timing of this deadline, coinciding with the kick-off and wrap-up of Cannes, appears to be an arbitrary and publicity-seeking effort by The Trade Desk (TTD) at Yahoo’s expense, especially given the incredibly low amount of revenue this represents for both companies,” it read. “We are still in negotiations and intend to make business decisions on a timeline that allows us to do what’s right for our clients, partners, and business. In addition, we are aware that TTD turned off deals, but we have not seen a change in spend from advertisers this week.”

In an earlier statement shared with Digiday, Yahoo noted its extensive work with demand partners as part of its testing of the latest standards, but that experimentations with The Trade Desk’s interpretation of the new tech guidelines “performed sub-optimally.”

Meanwhile, the DSP noted that its interpretation of the latest in-stream standard applies to all media owners and that if differences of opinion are resolved, it will resume trading.

Separately, Erez Levin, an industry consultant with extensive insight into how the latest IAB video standards were developed, noted that earlier norms needed tightening because of difficulties with technically verifying media owners’ claims — essentially, the definition of in-stream video ad space was a series of loose, subjective definitions.

For example, some would declare small video players in the corner of a web page as in-stream as long as they ran video ads before or after editorial content, a definition that few would publicly advocate, according to sources.

Meanwhile, the latest guidelines state, “Instream [sic] video must be set to ‘sound on’ by default at player start, or have explicitly clear user intent to watch the video content. While there may be other content surrounding the player, the video content must be the focus of the user’s visit.”

In a written statement, Levin added, “It’s good to see TTD enforcing the IAB video placement standards so their advertisers are getting the actual inventory they intend to buy and pricing it according to its actual value.”

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