ANA Helps Demystify the Role of Agency Trading Desks For Marketers

New York, NY - November 14, 2011 - A new white paper on Agency Trading Desks published by ANA (Association of National Advertisers)  will help educate marketers about this emerging audience purchasing model.

Agency Trading Desks are a new dynamic way to purchase audiences, allowing media to be bought in real time rather than from pre-procured inventory.  With the rapidly evolving digital environment, Agency Trading Desks are emerging as a solution to the high cost and lower efficiency of ad networks.  A growing list of agencies, both large and small, has created Agency Trading Desks.  Initially designed to purchase display advertising, these desks now actively buy online video, mobile, social media and search.

"Through discussions with our members, it became evident that many client-side marketers had a lack of knowledge regarding the role of Agency Trading Desks," said Bill Duggan, ANA Group Executive Vice President." To insure marketers are getting the most from their advertising dollars it is critical that they understand how this model works."

The goal of Agency Trading Desks is to improve the performance and increase the value of clients' digital media spend by leveraging services that were previously outsourced. Some agency trading desk benefits include:

  • Better targeting
  • Richer insights
  • Better integration / consistency of service
  • Better ROI

While there are many apparent benefits of agency trading desks, this relatively new service has come under criticism for its lack of transparency and also the fact that the agency becomes both buyer and seller of media, possibly creating a conflict of interest. 

The white paper indicates that for marketers and agencies to get the most value from Agency Trading Desks, educating marketers is paramount. It is recommended that marketers:

  • Have a conversation with the agency and understand if a trading desk is being used for the business
  • Understand the business model and which media is purchased via a trading desk
  • Be clear on metrics
  • Understand how the performance of the trading desk compares with previous buys not executed via a trading desk
  • Understand how the trading desk addresses competitive conflicts
  • If not using a trading desk, consider a test

ANA invites comments from the industry on this topic on its blog:




About the ANA

Founded in 1910, the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) leads the marketing community by providing its members with insights, collaboration, and advocacy. ANA's membership includes 400 companies with 10,000 brands that collectively spend over $250 billion in marketing communications and advertising. The ANA strives to communicate marketing best practices, lead industry initiatives, influence industry practices, manage industry affairs, and advance, promote, and protect all advertisers and marketers. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook, or visit our YouTube channel.


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