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Agency Trading Desks: A Brief History

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The birth of programmatic advertising can be traced to the late ’90s when the first ad networks appeared, and in 2000 when Google released AdWords.

But programmatic as we know it today really took shape in 2005 when the first ad exchanges arrived, followed by the first DSPs (demand-side platforms) in 2007, Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick in 2008, the use of RTB (real-time bidding) in 2009, and the OpenRTB protocol’s release in 2010.

It’s in this environment, starting around 2008, that advertising agencies began building or acquiring programmatic trading desks to stay ahead of the migration to digital media. We developed a timeline infographic with this in mind that charts all the trading desk activity within major agencies over the past decade.

We look at the key product announcements, mergers and acquisitions, and innovations within agencies and their corresponding trading desks. The infographic features WPP/Xaxis, Omnicon/Accuen, IPG/Cadreon, Publicis/Vivaki, and Dentsu/Amnet & Accordant — with revenue, customer and other company information included for each agency/trading desk.

The infographic also highlights important milestones in the general programmatic industry to put all the agency/trading desk activity in context.

A Brief History of the Agency Trading Desk

Note: The timeline includes a lot of information and requires zooming and panning.

Click here to download a full-size version of the infographic.

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