There is a lot of uncertainty in the world, and Customer Educators are adapting to keep up with constantly changing business priorities. We’ve asked our customers what they’re doing to cope with the current global landscape and how their work has been changing. In this edition, Meredith Hall, GM of Learning and Development at The Trade Desk, shares her insights.
Tell us a little bit about your company. How do you leverage customer education to support your customers and/or the industry?
Meredith: The Trade Desk is a DSP (Demand-Side Platform) powering the most sophisticated buyers in advertising technology. We recently celebrated our 10 year anniversary which I feel blessed to have been a part of the last six. We were founded by two incredible leaders and pioneers of real-time bidding and have become the fastest growing demand-side platform in the industry among agencies, aggregators, and their advertisers, managing their display, social, mobile, and video (including CTV) advertising campaigns.
Seven years ago, we started a program called the Trading Academy. At the time, the way media buyers were taking and placing orders was starting to look more like the role of a data-driven trader, and we wanted to help with the transition. So, we put together a program to educate the media buying teams of ad agencies on the nuances of programmatic ad buying. We invited many of the best industry experts and designed the program specifically to educate the world about the burgeoning field of data-driven advertising. Today, more than 13,000 people have received valuable professional certifications, half of those in 2019 and 2020. Accredited universities have incorporated it into their curriculum, and industry associations in the US, EU, and China have adopted or endorsed the program.
How have customer learning behaviors been changing since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak? What new demands are you hearing from your customers?
We recently launched our new education platform, The Trade Desk Edge, which was actually slated to launch later this year. As recent global events have only accelerated the shift toward measurable, data-driven digital marketing, we knew we had to provide our clients and the industry with these resources now. Additionally, in our commitment to making advertising education accessible to everyone, we opened up our offering for free access to the Edge Academy throughout 2020.
We’ve noticed that many of the people who have recently enrolled and been certified have been different from the thousands before them. They aren’t just agency media buyers. Some are college students. Some are professionals changing careers. Some are seasoned executives at brands or agencies. And those trends have only become more exaggerated in recent weeks. Today, understanding and learning data-driven advertising (a.k.a. programmatic advertising) is a must for every brand, marketer, and agency employee. From the bottom to the top of the organization, everyone needs to be fluent in these concepts.
Right now, the global economy needs a jump start. A healthy economy is how we pay for everything — including health care. Advertising fuels growth, and growth fuels advertising. We believe that by providing agencies, brands, and consumers with the resources they need to navigate data-driven advertising successfully, we can create a better media ecosystem that works for everyone, and that can be an engine of economic growth.
How is your Customer Education team adapting to help customers right now? What are you doing to increase your impact? What accommodations are you making?
As we all are adjusting and learning day-by-day what the “new normal” or future may hold, my team is staying agile and testing new formats for training material. We’re just about to hold our first virtual shoot so we can continue to meet the demands of our students and keep our promise to release new episodes under our Spotlight and Trader’s Toolkit series.
We’re also meeting with L&D leads across our portfolio of clients to better understand their needs during this time. We’re making adjustments where needed and constantly revising our plans to meet the needs of every one of our learners.
How do you think this will change your operations moving forward?
I’m actually really excited to start testing these new formats to our training materials. We historically have been known for our high-end video operations, but as we shift to virtual shoots, we’ll be testing audio files with transcripts, short video clips, and more text-based learning. For years I’ve been eager to try something new so it will be interesting to hear the response from our students as they engage and interact with the new content. As there are many learning styles, it’s my belief that the content may be a better mix for the average learner. If successful, I think it will be something we continue to create as we expand our programs!
What new colleagues are you engaging with that you haven’t worked with before?
We’re getting much closer to our Marketing team. As we launched The Trade desk Edge just a month ago, we’re starting to think about how our education platform continues to grow and evolve under our company. We’re finding it’s become such an important engagement tool for our brand so we’re looking to expand its offering across all our touchpoints.