Global advertising technology leader The Trade Desk operates in a constantly evolving world that is dependent on the real-time, intelligent use of data insights. The Trade Desk’s Executive Vice President, Product and Engineering, Bill Michels joined us on the latest episode of Rise of the Data Cloud to talk about the demands of the advertising technology (AdTech) market, the importance of new forms of identification, and the benefits of cloud computing.

Founded in 2009, The Trade Desk is the largest independent demand-side platform (DSP). Its self-service software helps advertising agencies and brands around the world make data-driven decisions on the digital media purchases they make on the open internet across inventory including desktop, mobile, audio, connected TV, and out-of-home advertising.

“To give a sense of the scale in which we operate, The Trade Desk looks at about 13 million ad opportunities a second, and then we buy several hundred thousands of those,” Michels said. “We ship products every week and we’re constantly learning from our relationships with our clients.”

AdTech deals with a vast amount of data, which is a mix of real-time and batch mode information, meaning The Trade Desk has had to adopt an ever-changing and evolving hybrid infrastructure strategy.

“We’re pushing more and more to the cloud because it helps us build out our global footprint in being geographically close to our on-premises customers,” Michels said. The cloud also enables The Trade Desk to get its products to market much faster and allows us to experiment with new approaches, he added.

The Trade Desk has been partnering with Snowflake and using the Data Cloud for a couple of years. In one of the primary use cases, the AdTech company stores the results of the ads it purchases, including user-level exposure, in the Data Cloud. Then, its large agency clients and brands, who are also Snowflake customers, can assess and conduct analysis on that information within the Data Cloud, to assess conversions into purchases and user re-engagements.

“We’re enabling our clients to develop amazing insights and understanding of the effectiveness of their advertising spend without having that data move or asking them to send us privacy-centric or directly identifiable information on their users,” Michels said.

In July 2021, Snowflake added support to the Data Marketplace for Unified ID 2.0 (UID 2.0), an open-source, industrywide identification solution, built from hashed and encrypted email addresses, which was initially developed by The Trade Desk. Michels describes UID 2.0 as a “safe, interoperable ID,” which allows organizations to join first-party and third-party data in a secure, privacy-conscious manner, without requiring any movement or transport of personally identifiable information (PII).

UID 2.0 offers advertisers, publishers and third-party data companies an alternative way to track and target customers as browser providers deprecate third-party cookies. Michels expects the partnership between The Trade Desk and Snowflake to continue to expand and deepen over time, particularly around data sharing.

Michels expects identity to continue to be a massive area of investment focus. As an alternative way of better understanding online visitors and a different type of value exchange between the two parties, he predicts that more and more publishers will ask visitors for a log-in to access their sites. However, he notes that not all online experiences will lend themselves to a log-in, for instance, a user wanting to execute a quick search or retrieve a support score.

At the same time, Michels anticipates that more elements of data processing and data analytics will take place on the client side, such as on a consumer’s mobile phone or browser or television. “The data resides there and the consumer is safe, but the advertiser can still make a really great return on their spend by leveraging smart data,” he said.

Rise of the Data Cloud is a podcast hosted by award-winning author and journalist Steve Hamm. For each episode, Hamm speaks with a data leader to learn how they leverage the cloud to manage, share, and analyze data to drive business growth, fuel innovation, and disrupt their industries. You can listen to more episodes here.