TransUnion has its eye on the cookieless future with its acquisition of Tru Optik, announced on Thursday.
This is the credit bureau’s third ad tech acquisition over the past year and a half. TransUnion acquired marketing tech platform TruSignal in May 2019 and cross-channel marketing company Signal in August.
TransUnion declined to share the Tru Optik deal price, but Matt Spiegel, EVP of the marketing solutions and media vertical at TransUnion, said he wasn’t the only one knocking on Tru Optik’s door. “We worked very hard to become the strategic home for these guys,” Spiegel said.
Tru Optik CEO and founder Andre Swanston will report to Spiegel. All Tru Optik employees, just under 40 people, are joining TransUnion.
The rationale for the deal is simple: “The only companies we’re interested in have either ‘Tru’ or ‘Signal’ in their name,” Spiegel joked.
More seriously, Tru Optik fits neatly into the vision Spiegel has been building since he joined TransUnion in 2018 after a stint at MediaLink, which is to become a key provider of identity solutions.
For that to happen, “we need to invest where the growth is, and I can’t point to any category that’s growing faster than streaming TV and connected audio,” he said.
But first, TransUnion needed to assemble an identity graph and products for audience creation and distribution, said Spiegel, who noted that TruSignal gave TransUnion the front end tools for building segments, while Signal had the data management and distribution chops.
Tru Optik brings a household identity graph made up of shared devices across more than 80 million US households, including OTT, streaming audio and gaming consoles, as well as a data marketplace specifically focused on streaming media and connected device targeting and measurement. The graph doesn’t rely on cookies, Swanston said.
There’s been an overreliance in the industry on cookies. But the future of addressability will not hinge on one identifier or signal, Spiegel said.
“All signals can be useful, and the signals coming out of the connected home will have a lot of staying power,” he said. “TransUnion has a depth of data attributes and signals that we can match and bring together, and Tru Optik has a household ID and an understanding of the connected home.”
In practice, the TransUnion/Tru Optik marriage will help companies do more identity-based marketing, targeting and measurement. A broadcaster, for example, could target households across linear and streaming. A streaming company could use Tru Optik data to learn more about its subscribers. Data providers could partner with TransUnion/Tru Optik to monetize their assets. And agencies could use the data and distribution capabilities to do omnichannel planning and buying.
“We’ll keep investing in this strategy, because this is what we believe marketers are going to require,” Spiegel said.
The TransUnion and Tru Optik relationship goes back roughly 18 months, when TransUnion participated in a $10 million venture funding round led by Mithera Capital, with participation from Connecticut Innovations, Arab Angel Fund and Progress Ventures. Tru Optik has raised $15.5 million since 2015.
As part of its investment at the time, TransUnion partnered with Tru Optik to enrich its data marketplace and household graph with validated consumer-level data.
Taking the next step into an acquisition and integrating their solutions into a single platform will help TransUnion and Tru Optik “move faster and be more effective,” Spiegel said.