Future Of Identity In CTV

  • by , Featured Contributor, March 28, 2024

I had the great pleasure of moderating a panel yesterday in San Francisco at the TV of Tomorrow conference, on driving transparency in identity and measurement in CTV advertising. Three industry pioneers and long-time leaders were panelists: Nada Bradbury, CEO of Ad-ID; Tom Morgan, CEO of Media.TV; and Scott McKinley, CEO of Truthset.

I’m writing about this event because we actually came together on key assumptions and shared struggles that define the CTV ad industry's future, and some winning strategies for players that weren't one of the two massive walled garden platforms.

Unsurprisingly, we all agreed that identity and measurement are a mess today on CTV, as is most of the viewer experience. How many times can we all see the same Capital One ad in the same show over and over again?

Also unsurprisingly, we all agreed that our industry doesn’t lack technology to solve the sector’s problems. We also noted that finding ways to leverage “true” viewer identity across the majority of the streaming video platforms, services and publishers would be a critical fulcrum to scale the streaming ad world beyond the massive organic growth of major walled garden platforms like Google's YouTube and Amazon. Both platforms have massive advantages in robust and fully integrated identity data for their streaming ad businesses.



After we discussed the topic, no one thought that actions by large brands and agencies -- despite their rhetoric on the topic -- were likely to drive the adoption of better and more transparent identity and measurement. Neither sets of actors tend to be change agents in our industry these days, and all have a certain comfort with the status quo, particularly without someone willing to step up and pay higher fees to fix it.

Tom Morgan drove home the point that the CTV market couldn’t support the cost of deep identity infrastructure without exponentially more advertisers than the single digit thousands that use national TV today. The math on granular campaigns and inventory yields won’t work unless we can make CTV work for hundreds of thousands or millions of advertisers, as search and social have done.

Scott McKinley urged us not to recreate a world of yesterday like linear TV, catering to big brands in categories like consumer packaged goods -- but instead, to build the CTV industry for the future and for the same kinds of small and mid-sized advertisers, whose adoption of Google first and then Facebook second propelled those companies to “hockey stick” growth in both pricing and revenue over the past 15 years.

Nada Bradbury made the point that the adoption of cross-platform identity, not just for viewers, but for advertising's creative assets, would be the way to both connect, standardize and create consistency with advertisers' experiences across both the “open” web of the non-walled-garden publishers, as well as walled gardens.

Basically, we all agreed -- as hard as it was to admit -- that pulling together a critical mass of the major players among brands, streaming publishers and CTV platforms would not provide the answer. That wasn’t going to be the way to build a true counterweight and complement to the massive market share that Amazon and Google are certain to own and grow as the world of linear TV advertising shifts to streaming and CTV over the next decade.

The only way to get there is to build the CTV ad industry’s future with the interests of local plumbers -- not Procter & Gamble -- at the center.

What do you think?

6 comments about "Future Of Identity In CTV".
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  1. Scott McKinley from Truthset, March 28, 2024 at 6:06 p.m.

    Great discussion Dave. Just another day in the life of an OG advertising luminary! To clarify the point about P&G, they remain the most sophisticated advertiser in the world and will benefit proportionately from the new world of precision and accountability in CTV.  But what will drive value and yield for publishers is tooling and infrastructure that allows everyone to get in on the action of 65" sight/sound/motion storytelling. Yes, perhaps even your local plumber! 

  2. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, March 28, 2024 at 6:17 p.m.

    Thanks Scott, and thanks for key clarification. It wasn't that P&G couldn't/wouldn't be part of a solve; just that making solves scale across broad CTV inventory would require more than just big brands.

  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 29, 2024 at 8:41 a.m.

    Dave, it seems that most of CTV's "problems" lay with local,  search and other non-branding  advertisers---especially those who use programmatic means to buy their TV ad time. But do these issues also apply  with  equal force  for P&G and the other traditional big spending, national TV branding advertisers who are shifting significant amounts of their TV ad dollars to CTV? I'm not so sure.

    For example, take the oft-cited "walled gardens" complaint and the supposed lack of transparency. Does this apply to a buy placed directly between buyer and seller, which is policed to a reasonable degree re commercial placement? I'm not so sure---especially if a sensible number of time sellers are involved---not hundreds, including many small tots.

    As for "audience" measurement, with Nielsen's new "big data" service coming into play, won't this supply a third party reading on ad "exposures" across all sellers in exactly the same way as we have been seeing for "linear TV" all these years? So if we don't trust a seller's claims about the number of "impressions" delivered or are worried about fraud, won't Nielsen be giving us an independent estimate---based on many millions of TV sets ---of how many actual viewing occasions our ads had?

    I think that much of the handwringing complaints one hears about re CTV's issues may be mostly a function of the way it was set up---as a "digital media platform"---not where it's headed---now that the traditional TV branding brands---and time sellers---- are getting seriously involved.They will not tolerate the kinds of things you and others have concerns about---lack of common metrics, fraud, excessive frequency in the same episode, etc. So here they come---to the rescue----like the "Lone Ranger" of the old radio and TV days.

  4. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, March 29, 2024 at 9:49 a.m.

    Ed, I don't think that's it's just a "local" issue, though that is part of it. It's the massive fragmentation of distribution, with many different sales owners of the inventory and many demand and sell side platforms all transacting the same spots. I don't think that the legacy tv companies can/will fix it because they are a smaller and smaller part of the market and lack the identity and inventory control power that Amazon, Google YouTube, Netflix and apple have. It will get worse before it gets better, I think.

  5. Phil Guarascio from PG Ventures LLC, March 31, 2024 at 8:42 p.m.

    greta discussion; but no suggested solutions that i can see. if industry leaders aent going to step up to thi issue, then "how". aninteresting start would be to see waht a cross platform solution would look like --i rough . what would it cost? how long would it take? who would take it on. what payments systems are possible?

    not easy, but i do belioeve the industry "giiants" who  are leading this now turn therie combined power to focusing on solutions. so let's minimize the hand wringing and teeh grinding regarding this issue--we've heard t all and all agree--and lets get focused on path that even if executed in stages will get us closer to the "promised land". wherever that may be.

  6. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, April 1, 2024 at 9:02 a.m.

    Totally agree Phil. It's time to spend on time and energy on solutions, not problem identification.

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