Demand-side platform The Trade Desk, in breaking its first video ad campaign, gave creative agency BBH New York the difficult task of explaining programmatic advertising in plain English.
“Programmatic is just so dense with information and it’s so difficult to write for, but we wanted to keep it simple,” says Sarah Watson, global chief strategy officer at BBH New York. “Our reference was ‘The Big Short,’ where Margot Robbie explains [financial terms].”
The videos will air on connected TV, a medium The Trade Desk is surrounding during major events such as NCAA March Madness. The move is significant, as it is unusual for pure tech companies such as The Trade Desk to run ad campaigns, let alone air them during tentpole events such as March Madness.
But it also makes some sense, given that the company is making a huge push into connected TV. In November, The Trade Desk reported that its connected TV sales rose 145 percent year over year, and the company has signed deals with streaming platforms from Amazon, Disney, Comcast and Roku.
The company says its latest effort, directed by Neal Brennan (“Chappelle’s Show With Dave Chappelle”), is an extension of its “Media for Humankind” campaign, which debuted last September and highlights the importance of advertising on the open web versus the so-called walled gardens of Google and Facebook.
In one spot, BBH turns to children trick-or-treating during Halloween to explain reach and the benefits of buying on the open web. The ad shows kids running around a sprawling neighborhood with bags filled with candy, but other children, who are trick-or-treating in a gated community, are getting only raisins, and not many of them at that.
“Get it? Walled gardens equal a little candy,” one of the children says. “Outside is all the candy you can eat.”
Another spot depicts two hotel concierges, one who sends a couple to an Italian restaurant instead of the French one they ask for, because his brother-in-law owns it. The other, who “represents an objective buy-side platform,” the spot says, finds them a cozy table at a bistro that suits them.
Watson says the agency’s strategic planner entrenched himself with the company’s creative team to make sure the complex topic was accurately explained. “What we learned through this process is very few people understand programmatic,” Watson says. “Even media agencies, who are the gatekeepers of the Trade Desk brand, don’t really understand this stuff, so it took a lot of collaborating.”
Asked why The Trade Desk is advertising during a general- interest event that will attract hordes of viewers beyond business decision-makers, Chief Marketing Officer Susan Vobejda says that the company aspires to market itself differently as a technology brand.
The company’s goal is to increase brand awareness, says Vobejda, adding that “the entire marketing ecosystem” is its target audience.