Crisis Averted: Converged TV Shines a New Light on Identity | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

Crisis Averted: Converged TV Shines a New Light on Identity

August 19, 2021

By Blair Robertson


Data and identity have become critical factors to unlocking the promise of converged TV. In the past, TV operated on simple metrics and traditional buying practices, which relied on standard datasets used across the ecosystem. Fast forward to today, where we find ourselves in a digitally enabled TV world that is rich with data and highly measurable and targetable advertising opportunities. The increasing adoption of deterministic data has made it clear that we need to do better — and we can do better — when it comes to solving for identity.

Keep in mind, data isn’t the problem. However, the way it has been used over the past 20 years has been problematic, to say the least, and requires change. Instead of breaking down barriers by leaning into cross-platform data usage and connecting the dots along the consumer journey in a privacy-safe way, walls are going up all around us.

It’s been long known that Google intends to deprecate the third-party cookie, and every publisher is looking at its pool of first-party data as the building blocks for their own walled gardens. This is being done in an effort to create their own identity solutions that enable advertisers to reach authenticated audiences. The problem is that this approach will only work in silos. And an ecosystem composed of countless walled gardens will not meet the needs of advertisers that want to find the right audiences at scale.

As walled gardens continue to go up, identity has gotten a bad rap. The entities that achieved it — Google, Facebook and Apple — held a strategic advantage and lorded over it. Digital’s approach to solving for identity was based on locking an entire industry into a single solution, backed by a walled garden that can be easily uprooted when they decide to change the rules. TV can learn from this and do things differently.

The TV industry has an opportunity to write a new story for identity that is based on collaboration, transparency and delivering value to all entities, from consumers to publishers and advertisers. TV has the gift of learning from digital’s mistakes when it comes to data, targeting and identity — and without being encumbered by many of the issues around long-tail inventory supply that has also plagued digital.

TV has clearly transformed from a data-scare industry to a highly fragmented, data-rich ecosystem. There are multiple ways that deterministic data flows across systems — set-top boxes, ACR data collected from OEMs, data from scores of operators, CTV/OTT data tied to their own walled gardens, as well as countless third-party data enrichment offerings. As converged TV has evolved, device-level data has become increasingly important too, and none of this even factors into the world of offline-purchase and first-party CRM data that needs to be applied to viewing data at the individual level.

Creating an open ecosystem for identity means having multiple solutions available for capturing audience information in a safe and compliant manner. These solutions cannot be tied to a single solution or company agenda. Putting consumers at the center will only help support TV’s mission to adopt a more data-driven, audience-first mentality.

The proliferation of different identities means that adtech/martech platforms looking to gain mass scale have to look beyond a single identifier and meet their customers “where they are” by adopting their chosen flavor of identity. Of course, the grand challenge is how to rationalize multiple IDs for the same canonical set of viewers/subscribers/households without reverting to endless, explosive, expensive and perennially out-of-date crosswalks. This also needs to be done at scale and in a privacy-compliant manner. However, TV is far better placed to meet this challenge than the web, as the relationship between viewer and content is inherently first party, and because the number of premium partners is in the low hundreds, not thousands to millions.

UID 2.0 is one of multiple solutions and approaches put forth to help improve consumer privacy and transparency while creating an ID framework open to other media and technology organizations. As more companies adopt UID 2.0, it becomes a foundational component to solve identity at scale across streaming TV and other online channels.

Converged TV means we no longer live in a pure-play linear environment. As the lines between channels blur, greater ad targeting opportunities are presented. As a result, we’ve seen big moves from some of the largest TV operators, such as Comcast, Charter and DISH, to drive the adoption of addressable advertising. They have come together to create Go Addressable, a consortium with goals to advance addressability and scalability and simplify targeting. Identity graphs will aid in the effort; building walled gardens around properties will not. On Addressability is another initiative backed by Comcast, Cox and Charter, which seeks to maximize the value of data-driven TV.

OpenAP, which was founded by the largest TV operators in the U.S., was also created to help marketers use data to connect advertisers with relevant and precise audiences. All of these industry efforts promote the need for collaboration and transparency when solving for cross-platform identity.

Identity can and should be used to eliminate the intense fragmentation, specifically in converged TV. It should enable advertisers to know where they can reach the right viewers, regardless of where, when and what they watch. Achieving identity at scale can bring a whole host of benefits to consumers, publishers and advertisers alike — from more relevant advertising, to greater precision for measurement, attribution and targeting and new revenue opportunities.

If the various TV providers worked together to create tools advertisers need to access inventory across multiple platforms and systems, scale wouldn’t be a challenge. What’s more, every provider would benefit from an increase in spending on TV. As the saying goes, a rising tide floats all boats.

Blair Robertson is CTO and EVP at TVSquared.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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