TikTok and The Trade Desk Look to Take Their Partnership Global

Social media upstart seeks more ways to monetize eyeballs

The social network spent much of 2019 developing its ad-tech suite. TikTok, The Trade Desk
Headshot of Ronan Shields

TikTok and The Trade Desk signed a deal earlier this year, making it possible for media buyers to bid for ad space on the social network using the demand-side platform across the Asia-Pacific region.

The tie-up represents the first time TikTok inventory has been accessible via The Trade Desk, although the social network has integrations with other DSPs in the region. And now, sources say provisions are in place for their partnership to potentially go global.

In an emailed statement, The Trade Desk told Adweek that, “at this time, our inventory partnership with TikTok is focused on the APAC region.” It went on to note how “we are always evaluating new opportunities and demand to expand our partnerships with platforms like TikTok.”

The APAC deal, which spans 11 markets including Australia, Hong Kong, India and Japan, involved a direct integration between the DSP and TikTok, and serves as an indicator of The Trade Desk’s desire for more efficient routes to inventory sources.

PepsiCo snack brand Lay’s was the first APAC advertiser to take advantage of the new offering. The official partnership announcement noted how campaigns on the DSP are pseudonymous in order to prevent the leakage of personally identifiable information.

Continued audience targeting, while providing enhanced privacy guarantees, is made possible (in part) by direct integration between The Trade Desk and TikTok, as well as the rollout of the DSP’s audience targeting product Unified ID.

That feature has seen The Trade Desk become more selective in which supply-side sources it deals with, and in certain cases has seen it opt to go directly to media owners as opposed to a third party–a phenomenon known as supply path optimization.

Meanwhile, TikTok spent the bulk of last year building out its ad-tech offering, including the ability to purchase inventory on the social network via ad auctions. Additionally, it has made strides to roll out an audience network called Pangle that lets advertisers target TikTok users across a network of third-party apps, rather than just within the confines of the social network.

According to publicly available documents, Smaato, a company that specializes in helping media owners monetize in-app inventory, is a direct partner of TikTok. However, it remains unclear how the company will feature in the social network’s plans to monetize its audience base, which numbers well above 1 billion users. A TikTok spokesperson declined to name additional ad-tech partners.

Any potential expansion of the partnership between The Trade Desk and TikTok could prove significant for both parties as paid social media placements appear to remain popular with brands, even as the ad economy contracts amid the coronavirus crisis. According to a recent survey by Advertiser Perceptions, paid social media placements have been the second-biggest part of media budgets (after paid-for search) in the wake of the ongoing uncertainty.


@ronan_shields ronan.shields@adweek.com Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.