The Trade Desk’s fourth-quarter earnings boosted by political ad spending and shift to CTV

The Trade Desk reported strong 2020 fourth quarter earnings today, with revenue up 48 percent from the year-ago period to $319.9 million, and total yearly ad spend on its platform up 34 percent to $4.2 billion.

The ad tech company noted an accelerated shift to CTV, with revenue in that category doubling compared to the same quarter in 2019. The company also reported a significant benefit due to political ad spending, most of it tied to the 2020 elections. That spending helped fill a hole left by advertisers and verticals that had not returned to pre-pandemic levels, including travel, said Jeff Green, co-founder and CEO. The company said verticals including health and fitness, shopping, food and drink all grew, with automotive performing particularly well. 

The company reiterated its growing list of partners who have signed on to Unified ID 2.0, its advertiser identity solution meant to replace the third-party cookie. That list includes Nielsen, Criteo, LiveRamp, Magnite, Index Exchange, The Washington Post, Pubmatic, Neustar, MediaVine and OpenX. “Pretty much the entire ad tech ecosystem has signed on,” says Green. “UID 2.0 is the new common currency of the open internet.” 

Green says getting the biggest publishers and advertisers to sign on is key to widespread adoption. The ad tech company, which has long said it is committed to independent governance of Unified ID 2.0, also announced that it was handing over control to Prebid, a nonprofit organization working to standardize monetization of programmatic advertising. “As we have said from the beginning, an identity solution is much bigger than any one company, including The Trade Desk,” he said.

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