Yahoo Launches ID-Free Targeting; Roku May Get Into TV Manufacturing

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Ya-Who’s There? 

Yahoo (which is back, in case you haven’t heard) launched an ID-free targeting solution on Thursday.

The company has a proprietary ID, which it calls the Yahoo ConnectID. But even today, 30% of ad impressions carry no advertising ID, Yahoo says – and in two years, more than 75% of impressions will have no ID. (Worth noting, though, that this is based on Google sticking to its own roughly two-year timelines for deprecating third-party cookies and advertising IDs.)

Yahoo’s first zero-ID product, dubbed Next-Gen Solutions, models logged-in users who can be tracked on Yahoo-owned web properties, including Yahoo Fantasy Sports, TechCrunch and AOL Mail. 

Next-Gen Solutions also pulls in advanced contextual signals, Yahoo claims, and parses the content on a page. Yahoo then models audiences based on data signals in the bidstream, like weather and device type.

This allows Yahoo to deliver “key insights into various actions, including CPM variance between addressable and non-addressable inventory,” says James Kanak, OMD’s associate director of digital activation, who also noted “advertisers need solutions that help them reach and gain insights into non-addressable environments.”

Game, TV Set, Match

Roku is exploring the idea of manufacturing its own TVs. The company hosted focus groups to survey people on different models, feature sets, names, sizes and price points for potential Roku-made sets, Insider reports.

Roku’s CFO dismissed the idea as “rumor and speculation” during its Q4 earnings call on Thursday. But let’s play out why it makes sense:

Roku already has a TV operating system it licenses to manufacturers, such as Sharp, TCL and Hisense. But manufacturing a TV of its own makes a lot of sense. 

For one, as an OS maker and streaming platform with the ability to monetize data through advertising and analytics, Roku can undercut others on price. This would be quite similar to how the profits from its initial TV streaming stick and device sales became relatively unimportant once ad revenue was pulling the wagon. 

Another benefit of manufacturing TV sets is that they’d come preloaded with The Roku Channel, an ad-supported library of channels and movies, which has been a monetization engine for Roku. The Roku Channel could be present regardless of whether a customer uses a competitor’s streaming device (i.e., Amazon Fire, Google Chromecast or Apple TV). 

There is precedent for Roku to make this move. Comcast recently launched its first line of TVs – although it did so with Hisense as a manufacturing partner. 

The Full-Funnel Tube

Speaking of TVs – OEMs, or original equipment manufacturers, are trying to wear all of the hats.

Why? Smart TV manufacturers had a rude awakening when they realized there’s not much profit to be made in … well, hardware. Vizio, for example, only started selling ads in 2019, but its advertising and ACR data raked in 70% of the company’s profits in Q3 last year. 

LG Ads, Roku and Amazon completed the OEM quartet in a panel held on Thursday by the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) diving into how OEMs are handling audience measurement.

“We’re all moving in the same direction,” said Justin Fromm, head of research at LG Ads Solutions. “Everyone’s got [their own] special sauce to add – but we’re [all] doing a lot of the same things,” including outcome-based guarantees as OEMs expand their first-party data sets.

TV sets and streaming devices have data that spans brand awareness all the way through to conversion, said Dan Robbins, VP of ad marketing and partner solutions at Roku.

Sounds like a little healthy “coopetition.”

In addition to being frenemies, the Vizio, Amazon, LG Ads and Roku execs also agreed on the biggest obstacle to selling smart TV inventory: capturing incremental linear reach (aka cord-cutters and the youngs).

But Wait, There’s More!

Nielsen and The Trade Desk sync up on a cross-channel measurement solution. [The Drum]

Bad Chrome extensions threaten Meta’s access tokens and could lead to data theft. [The Register]

Craig Silverman: Free tools for investigating digital ads. [blog]

Marketers prepare for further change as Google promises mobile-privacy moves. [WSJ]

You’re Hired!

Criteo hires GroupM vet Brian Gleason as chief revenue officer. [release]

Havas Media Group elevates Greg James to global chief transformation officer. [release]

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