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Earlier this year, Google dropped a (let’s be honest, not so surprising) bomb announcing that they weren’t replacing third-party cookies and wouldn’t support industry solutions, in the name of privacy. In response, the industry has been frantically trying to break down what this means as it relates to targeted advertising.
Although it remains to be seen how this fight will pan out across the open web, there’s no doubt that Google’s garden walls are continuing to rise. With that said, marketers would be wise to remember that there are other channels that don’t — and never did — use cookie technology. Specifically, connected TV.
CTV has the upper hand in that it’s removed from the Google battle and viewership continues to grow astronomically. With this in mind, CTV has the potential to be a more effective and lucrative channel as marketers have an opportunity within emerging environments to get ahead of any measurement issues and proactively address identity.
Not connected: How identity differs on CTV
Identifying audiences is a different ball game on CTV because there are no cookies and no real open web. Instead, CTV is completely app-based. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t face challenges with identity. In part due to fragmentation, CTV still lacks a consistent, universal identifier across devices and apps. The last two years have seen several major CTV platform launches. From Peacock to Discovery+, the influx of new players has created an ecosystem with highly-entertaining services for consumers, but a disconnect for marketers because of the way that CTV is set up.
To watch the newest streaming content, consumers must first buy the hardware and then download streaming apps. When marketers buy advertising inventory, they will know which streaming service they are buying from, but won’t necessarily know what device it was served on. Without common or related identifiers, frequency capping, audience targeting and attribution are nearly impossible on CTV.
In order for CTV to attain its fair share of ad spend according to its share of consumer time, improved identity solutions must enable more transparency into the channel. The industry needs a standard for CTV identification to give advertisers transparency into the audience they’re reaching, and how often they’re reaching them to prevent wasted ad spend. Marketers will know which streaming service they are buying from, but won’t necessarily know what device it was served on. In this situation, both the app and the device will issue very different IDs, hence the disconnect. Marketers cannot see the full picture with the way the ecosystem is now.
The CTV opportunity: The household
As of today, many providers are just getting started building CTV-focused measurement. While some super-savvy advertisers may be looking at ways to attribute a CTV commercial to a conversion on a website or app, this isn’t mainstream quite yet. We have a real opportunity here to build an identity solution from the ground up.
The question is, what should that solution look like?
First and foremost, it needs to be built with privacy by default. Privacy will be a key element to appease federal regulators and keep state regulators out of CTV identity, which would make implementation crippling. This means that user-level — which is creepy to consumers — will not work. And, unfortunately, device-level presents the issue of device sharing.
Instead, the future of audience targeting is at the household-level, where many purchasing decisions are made. It’s a practical, privacy-focused technique to support measurement use cases.
We are at a pivotal moment in CTV: viewership is still growing and marketers are unsure about the future of the rest of the digital ecosystem subjected to Google’s whims. The time is now to resolve identity to fulfill CTV’s potential as a powerful channel in the future of marketing.
Jessica Hogue is the general manager of Measurement and Analytics at Innovid, where she leads the company’s strategy, design and execution of measurement and analytics based solutions and partnerships. She joined Innovid after 12 years at Nielsen where she held numerous leadership roles in client services and product leadership.