More than a year after GDPR took effect, companies are adopting greater transparency towards users around data use and collection. The most positive development from this period may be the awareness among consumers, who not only feel more responsible about giving consent, but also better versed in the ways that data can offer more personalized content experiences.. Now more than ever, data has become an essential tool for media owners in adding value to their product and maximizing the potential return on video inventory. It’s no wonder that data-driven advertising was a recurrent theme at IBC2019 in Amsterdam last month.
Kristen Williams, VP of Strategic Partnerships at SpotX, visited IBC in September and met with partners, media owners, broadcasters, telco operators, and traditional publishers from all over the world to discuss the importance of data in today’s rapidly changing TV advertising landscape. We recently sat down to get her perspective on this hot topic and the future of data-driven video.
After your discussions with global media players at IBC, can you elaborate on the biggest challenges that media owners experience in delivering ads across all devices and platforms?
Kristen: It’s clear that media owners face unprecedented challenges in the broadcast advertising industry. When it comes to TV, we’re seeing a shift globally towards OTT consumption, where viewers are moving from the traditional broadcaster experience to digital streams on connected devices. This brings a lot of challenges around the concept of delivery in those locations, but moreover around activating data and reaching specific audiences.
It’s not easy, especially in a fragmented industry like TV advertising. The rapidly growing CTV segment utilizes both standard and proprietary operating systems, which can make targeting tricky across households. To compensate for this lack of standardization, many buyers use DMPs to inform their audience targeting, but those also vary in their capabilities. Some DMPs can only target devices with a persistent identifier, while other platforms can target widely based on IP address. We hope to see the industry continue to come together in 2020 to create more standards in this space, which will help reduce these challenges and breakdowns going forward.
An old adage in the world of advertising, John Wanamaker said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half”. What are the main improvements in how data makes video advertising more efficient?
Kristen: There have been great improvements in attribution and measurement in recent years. We see partners who are doing food traffic and CPG attribution on the SKU level, measuring the impact on sales lift. Others are linking CTV video ad exposure to digital actions. Fortunately, these are increasingly common tactics in CTV campaigns today, allowing advertisers to attribute when someone visits a site, completes a form, or makes a purchase, which really helps to understand the value of every ad served.
On the measurement side, the use of Automated Content Recognition data is helping to create a comparison of campaign performance across linear TV and CTV. Analyzing these channels, separately and together, offers advertisers insights into which campaigns are seeing the strongest performance and where multiple touch points can be valuable. We’ve made great strides in advertising now that buyers are able to quantify the value of their ad spend much more so than before.
Partnerships and cross-platform collaboration were talked about a lot at IBC as two trends that have acquired greater importance in the broadcast and media advertising industry. Can you tell us more about it?
Kristen: At SpotX, we have spent a lot of time building out what we call our “AME,” or Audience Management Engine, which is the core of our data enablement. We’ve integrated with all the best-in-breed DMPs out there, like Nielsen, Oracle and LiveRamp, to give people the ability to pull in their data—whether that’s first party data from the publisher or advertiser, or third party data—and enable it all within our platform. This has been a big collaborative step in helping clients succeed.
What is needed to succeed in a data-rich environment?
Kristen: In a data-rich environment it is crucial that media owners keep their data secure and private. If advertisers are able to mine that data and find those users in cheaper environments , then media owners can face the challenges of their inventory being devalued.
At SpotX, we ensure that data is protected in a number of ways. We minimize the data we collect. We maintain a deep understanding of the way data flows through our systems so that we can put appropriate controls in place, depending on the location and use of the data. And we rigorously test our systems to ensure that the data remain safe. If there is a skill most essential to success in a data-rich environment, it is enabling private and safe environments for any kind of data transactions, a complicated feat that requires the collaboration of strategic partners and cross-platform technology.
How are media companies transforming the way they sell ads through the use of data?
Kristen: Many advertisers are bringing their first party data to the supply side. Traditionally, this has always been done on the demand side. Because of the shifting transaction dynamics in the premium video ecosystem from open marketplace to private executions, we are seeing a trend of data moving to a supply driven data strategy. This is giving buyers much better visibility into this fragmented ecosystem and giving media owners the control that they need.
In CTV environments, where 85-90% of the inventory is in private marketplaces, you have limited forecasting and planning available from the demand side. By bringing advertiser data into the supply side, we’re able to give buyers insight into where their audience lives across our entire platform. This provides not only additional visibility but access to inventory previously available.
How is data helping to deliver programmatic ads?
Kristen: Depending on a media owner’s business rules, data is passed from the supply side, giving insights into what devices people are using, their location (if given consent), different types of data attributes, potentially the browser or app they are using, etc. There is this transfer of information that is occurring, of supplying this type of data about the user and their current experience so that the buy side can make more informed decisions. The ultimate goal is to provide the end user with personalized experience so that they don’t consider it to be intrusive.
What key improvements are on the horizon in the world of data-driven video?
Kristen: There is still a lot of standardization that can happen. Advertisers and buyers want more insight into when and how people are consuming video across devices. Right now, it’s difficult to construct a full picture of the CTV landscape, with such a wide range of players and devices and bundles. For example, there are several ways you could watch the same college football game, whether that’s on the ESPN+ app via an Amazon device, or ESPN’s cable channel via a Sling TV subscription.
Secondly, when we think about persistent identifiers, there is a precedent that offers a cause for optimism. Back in 2008, targeting against mobile devices felt like the “wild, wild west.” Now, mobile is relatively straight forward. I think we’re going to get there for CTV, as well. We’re already seeing more device manufacturers adopting unique identifiers. The ways of sharing data and content will become more standardized, making video advertising more simplistic for media owners and advertisers. In turn, this will also be beneficial for the end users, as better technology will increasingly match them with only the most relevant and personalized branded messages.
Watch the full interview below.