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Seed Series: Breaking News! Get Ready for Seed Data

By Chris Morse on January 25, 2024

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Chris Morse

Senior Director, Platform Partnerships

Programmatic advertisers will have to account for many big changes in 2024, chief among them... seed data!  


Wait, seed data? Not signal loss or cookie deprecation?    


The Trade Desk (TTD), one of the largest media buying platforms, recently announced that beginning in Q1 2024, campaign planning will now have the option to use seed data for audience targeting recommendations.  


Previously buyers could use first-party data as seed data to provide lookalike recommendations, but now TTD is offering the option of planning with seed data. If buyers don’t have enough first-party data to drive accurate recommendations, third-party segments and data sets can be used as an alternative. 


To put this into perspective, roughly $7.8 billion worth of advertising was placed through The Trade Desk in 2022. Currently, about half the campaigns placed in TTD’s platform are activating targeting using first-party data. The fact that the other half of those campaigns can now to pivot to using seed data is a big shift. A substantial number of agencies and programmatic-direct brands are affected by this change, in their ability to either access first-party data to use for seed, or properly select the best third-party data to use instead.  


Fear not: TTD’s move is a positive for marketers, one that will benefit campaign efforts in both the short- and long-term. Making seed data a viable option should ultimately ensure advertisers are developing more accurate and targeted audience recommendations that lead to campaign results. 


Alliant’s team of platform, agency and data strategy specialists has put some serious thought into how to approach these changes and maximize first-party data assets or third-party data to ensure the best results amidst change. As a data coop of aggregated first-party data, seed data and the resulting recommendations is kind of our specialty.  


Read on for insights on how to ensure seed success, or click below to download our 2024 Programmatic Audience Targeting Quick-Reference Guide!




What is seed data? 

In the programmatic space, TTD defines a seed audience as “a group of customers who serve as a basis to find other consumers with similar interests or behaviors who might be interested in the brand’s product.” 


Seed data can be comprised of demographic, behavioral or purchase history data for a specific group of customers that is sourced through a brand or a third-party. By originating campaigns from the seed level, advertisers can build out larger audiences that share the same characteristics as the seed to achieve scale or meet desired KPIs, and do so across channels.  


How do I use seed data within The Trade Desk? 

Marketers are likely asking this question in a slightly different form: “Do I need to do anything different?”  


If you’re already using first-party data, then no, probably not. But there is always room to consider how you are segmenting and analyzing your first-party data. The goal is to ensure, accurate and cleansed data for seeds, resulting in optimal results. Marketers may also benefit from exploring data enrichment options on first-party data sets before using it for a seed. Bringing these additional data points may derive stronger recommendations and results.  


On the other side of the coin, all campaigns that currently rely on third-party data sources should account for this change. Not to worry, TTD and Alliant are going to make this easy. 


Buyers using TTD can build a seed with Boolean logic that uses multiple Alliant segments and/or Alliant and other third-party data segments. Alliant already has more than 2,000 audiences available in the platform and available to be used as a seed. Once selected, the seed triggers an algorithm to search for relevant audience segments that are matched and recommended for usage in the campaign. Audiences are then ranked in order for usage in the campaign. 


The advantages of Alliant’s seed data 

First and foremost, there is no cost to use Alliant data as seeds in TTD. Next, seed data is not new to Alliant. Data for modeling is Alliant’s core business and most of our industry-leading, highly accurate audiences are built using seeds and analytic recommendations. Alliant is a data cooperative that uses first-party purchase and behavioral data as the foundation of everything we do, including audience creation. If you are already using Alliant audiences on TTD, you’re in great shape. 


Alliant’s deterministic seed data is sourced from real-world transactional data. This means that brand affinities and loyalty are sourced from actual purchases, rather than inferences and browsing behavior. As a result, audiences built on Alliant seed data are often a better fit for full-funnel campaigns, rather than those simply looking to reach consumers with top-of-funnel interest. 


This approach has shown proven results, as all Alliant audiences in TTD being tied to and over performing against Unified ID 2.0 matching. This level of future-proofed identity and stability achieved through Alliant is especially reassuring with signal loss and cookie depreciation coming next year. 


Consider custom audiences and enrichment 

Marketers that are not finding the exact seed data in TTD’s platform can consider building a custom audience. While Alliant has built its reputation on high-quality off-the-shelf audience segments sourced from deterministic seed data, we’re raising the bar with our custom audiences, which we regularly build on behalf of leading brands.  


This bespoke approach leverages billions of purchase transactions and thousands of predictor variables sourced from the Alliant DataHub. When combined with brand-level first-party data, the result is the most precise audience modeling. 


Marketers that don’t want to go the custom audience route can also opt for data enrichment. This utilizes brand first-party data and narrows in on a specific interests and behaviors.  


Regardless of the route that marketers choose to take, this is an exciting time to get more creative with how to generate audience recommendations within TTD and across campaigns and channels. 


Testing different data sets for seeds and carefully monitoring results will prove to be insightful for marketers and their agencies throughout 2024. In an era of unprecedented change, this should drive audience targeting forward.  


This is especially true as the industry prepares for cookie and signal loss in 2024. TTD’s change creates a new option for audience signal which bakes in a future-proof plan for identity. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see if The Trade Desk doubles down on making seed data campaign planning a requirement later this year. 


To learn more about seed data and custom audiences, contact the Alliant team. 

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