Can The Opt-Out Move More Ad Budgets To OTT? Videology And Tru Optik Bet It Will

Ad buyers decry the absence of addressability in OTT inventory, which they claim lacks the targeting and measurement capabilities to which digital buyers are accustomed.

But an integration between Videology’s cross-screen video platform and Tru Optik’s CTV device graph, revealed Wednesday, aims to bring more addressability to OTT advertisers – at scale.

Previously, Videology would target OTT audiences using workarounds, like indexing ZIP codes against any available data set because of the lack of addressable data.

And while there is addressability at scale in OTT, it’s mostly been on an individual app or device-level basis. Roku and Hulu both bake anonymized subscriber data into the ad serve to improve targeting and measurability.

But there is inventory beyond Roku and Hulu, as many content providers and publishers host apps across other devices like Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Chromecast and Apple TV.

And as more OTT inventory is sold programmatically, and eventually makes its way into exchange environments, the need to maintain a good user experience in OTT has grown among brand clients, said Andre Swanston, CEO of Tru Optik.

Videology and Tru Optik hope to get more devices and apps into providing more targetable, measurable inventory by doing something that might seem counterintuitive: making it easier for consumers to opt out of interest-based ads or behavioral targeting altogether. 

“We’re supporting the ability to do OTT targeting at the household level cross-device and cross-channel,” said Aleck Schleider, SVP of data and client strategy for Videology, “but [only in a way where we’re] managing opt-outs across all channels we’re targeting.”

The two ad tech vendors are betting that in so doing, OTT stakeholders will be less fearful of potential privacy concerns as more data is appended to IP-based targeting. (Smart-TV manufacturer Vizio became the poster child for the industry’s need for a sound connected-TV opt-out policy.)

And it will create a better user experience, as the ability to target down to the IP level (and to know when a user has opted out) could help address challenges around frequency management and cross-device measurement, said Francois Lee, EVP and investment director at MDC Partners’ media agency, Assembly.

“Whether it’s sequential storytelling or a custom ad made for that one device, there’s a lot of potential for where this can go,” Lee said.

In the end, media budgets won’t migrate to OTT en masse without better measurement and targeting.

Network A+E, which uses Videology’s video platform as a demand source and has private exchanges with its mobile, OTT and VOD inventory, constantly fields questions from ad buyers about whether it can pass certain bid attributes about the user, household or content that’s being ingested.

“It was a frustration for us because we knew we had extremely valuable inventory being watched on a big screen, on demand, by a consumer [who’s] engaged,” said Jason DeMarco, VP of programmatic and audience solutions for A+E Networks. “But the lack of targetability prevented us from extracting the true value of that inventory.”

Moreover, because OTT lacks standards and comprehensive measurement, there was virtually no way of knowing whether an ad was served to the same household numerous times when fulfilling an ad request.

“We do everything we can to restrict frequency, but what complicates this is all of the fragmentation in current tech stacks, as well as [the lack of standardized] ad serving in OTT,” DeMarco added. “Unfortunately, the industry is not controlling for frequency the way it should, and that came at the expense of the user.”

Since Videology can now match OTT impressions to an IP-based device graph built for OTT, Tru Optik’s Swanston claims it will help create more consistency across publishers around measuring the number of household devices exposed to an ad – and at what frequency.

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