In the vast and evolving landscape of the advertising world, Connected TV (CTV) has emerged as a much-needed remedy for brands seeking to make a lasting impact in a market that has otherwise hit a plateau in the UK. As TV ad spend declines, a ray of hope shines through increased investment in ad-supported video on demand (AVOD), as consumers steadily shift away from traditional linear TV. However, this shift has led advertisers into a data ecosystem that resembles more of a mysterious and unforgiving desert than a thriving, fertile land.

The disparity between CTV and its mobile counterpart becomes apparent when we look at the availability and accessibility of data. Mobile, with its abundant flow of data despite Apple’s stringent ID-level targeting restrictions, seems like an oasis of insights compared to the guarded and restricted data flow in CTV. Equipment manufacturers and streaming providers hold tightly to their data assets, perhaps fearing the commodification that devalued data on mobile and the open web. This defensive stance, while understandable, has created roadblocks for cross-platform measurement and targeting capabilities, leading to challenges for advertisers in achieving consistent ROI and driving up costs for sellers.

To transform this data desert into a lush, thriving landscape, brands must explore how adtech can breathe life into the arid ecosystem, allowing data to flow freely to those who need it without compromising its value or security.

One of the critical solutions lies in bolstering CTV’s cross-platform capabilities through identity solutions. These solutions act as the spine that connects users across different platforms and devices, enabling brands to deliver tailored ads to the right audience at the right moment. Picture it as recognizing a traveler who watches a show on a connected TV and later interacts with a social media ad on their phone – identity solutions link these experiences together seamlessly. Unfortunately, the multitude of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) each with their variation of device IDs and limited access to them has left CTV lacking the necessary identity infrastructure for accurate frequency control and measurement across platforms.

Enter data exchanges – bustling marketplaces of consumer insights. Acting as intermediaries between data owners and buyers, data exchanges offer a plethora of valuable data types, such as demographic, behavioral, and location data. For media owners, these exchanges present opportunities to apply data targeting to campaigns, elevating the value of their inventory to a broader range of advertisers. Brands, on the other hand, can utilize data exchanges to overcome limitations within their own data, which is particularly beneficial in the post-GDPR era, where first-party data access faces challenges.

But the real game-changer lies in technology that empowers data collaboration. Imagine unifying all siloed data pockets, pseudonymizing identifiers, and enriching signals, thus overcoming the limitations of each component. This allows for overlapping audiences between brands and platforms to be segmented and targeted across the entire advertising ecosystem, not just within CTV. Clean rooms, secure environments that allow data sharing and analysis while preserving user privacy, are a powerful solution in this endeavor. However, they are not without their challenges, requiring significant investments of time, resources, and money to set up, and demanding ongoing maintenance and compatibility checks.

For true transformation, data collaboration must extend beyond specific tools and be embraced at a cross-platform, cross-solution level. ID resolution and data exchanges can make more data available on CTV, while data collaboration tools facilitate the smooth exchange of first and second-party data between the supply and demand side. The key to success lies in interoperability and the acknowledgment that no single approach can solve the ecosystem-level data drought. Collaboration, openness to data sharing, and perhaps some consolidation will breathe life into CTV’s data desert, ushering in an era where CTV delivers the best of both linear TV and digital advertising. As the CTV landscape continues to evolve, the role of adtech solutions in unlocking its full programmatic potential will become increasingly critical.

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