TV was once the easiest way to reach a broad audience with a consistent message. But now that viewing has fragmented across devices and screens, the TV buyer’s job has become much more complex.
Enter LiveRamp, whose business model is built on solving fragmentation. By adding connected TV (CTV) IDs to its IdentityLink ID graph, LiveRamp can help advertisers link their digital and CTV audiences to enhance understanding of them and run more effective cross-screen campaigns.
LiveRamp has been working to solve TV’s identity problem for two years under the direction of Allison Metcalfe, GM of LiveRamp TV. Its June acquisition of Data Plus Math allows it to bridge identity with performance measurement such as store visits or sales. That’s increasingly attractive to buyers fed up with fuzzy viewership ratings that don’t connect to business outcomes.
“There has been one way of measuring TV for 70 years,” Metcalfe said. “We’re hearing from all parts of the market that’s just not acceptable anymore.”
LiveRamp collects CTV IDs through integrations with publishers and MVPDs with logged-in, authenticated audiences. It also collects IDs from publishers without logged-in audiences using IP addresses. LiveRamp’s match rate for publishers with unauthenticated viewers is 40-70%, which is in the mid to high range, Metcalfe said.
“We’re using the IP as a replacement for a hashed email, and the CTV ID as a replacement for the cookie,” she said.
But there are technical challenges. LiveRamp must reconcile probabilistic and deterministic data sets and dedupe household IP addresses against individuals in its ID graph. There are also business challenges in getting networks and cable operators to share detailed information about their audiences and subscribers with buyers.
“We have to deal with the data that’s available,” Metcalfe said. “The unfortunate and unintended consequence is it slows down adoption of advanced TV.”
She spoke with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: How has the Data Plus Math acquisition changed your TV offering?
ALLISON METCALFE: Data Plus Math offers various sources of viewership data – set-top box, ACR and some streaming partnerships – and they’re commingling that to create a larger asset of viewership to do analytics and measurement.
But if you want to do cross-screen measurement, you need digital exposures from CTV devices.
So we give them full access to our graph. It was going to be cost-prohibitive for them to achieve the scale they need to be meaningful in the market on their own.
In the past for TV, we’ve worked with any measurement platform, which is still the case. But we now have something in house as well. It reduces friction for our clients. They don’t have to build parts and pieces across multiple platforms. They can use LiveRamp as a one-stop shop.
Are you competing with Nielsen now?
Currency is a very important part of our strategy, but I wouldn’t say we’re competing with Nielsen. Nielsen will always have a place.
Facebook and Google have trained the market to demand addressable targeting and show how their message performs. The buy side is demanding far more accountability. We know TV works, but the networks’ ability to prove that has been hindered.
But LiveRamp does not want to be a currency. We are enabling the buy and sell sides to transact on a currency that they both agree on. We’re enabling transactions on outcomes that are becoming a currency for those clients.
What’s holding back adoption of advanced TV from a buyer standpoint?
Back in the day, TV was this elegant way of reaching a large audience with one buy. Now [people are] watching across multiple platforms. The brand is asking, “How do I reach my audience across all of these different screens?”
The folks that hold that data complicate that. We can’t give that information to buyers today because there’s a lot of sensitivity, for very good reason. That’s their proprietary data asset. It’s very valuable to them. But that’s the No. 1 thing the brand wants to know.
TV is such an entrenched business. Does that get in the way of advancing the space?
This is such a new concept to the legacy TV business. I was around when custom audience tools started [in digital], and there was a very similar hesitation to make that available full scale. You’re dealing with walled gardens. There are even more walled gardens in TV. The only way to make this truly frictionless for the buy side is an incredible increase in collaboration.
LiveRamp has always been a neutral player. How are you driving collaboration?
We built a platform where ops teams [at MVPDs can] log in and communicate match counts to their clients. With one agency, [we are] sitting down with the sell side and presenting this problem to them. What controls can we put in place that would make them comfortable giving more access to information?
That’s a huge initiative we’re on right now, but it requires collaboration. It requires a little bit more comfort letting that information out into the buy side.
What information is the sell side reluctant to share?
It’s little things. They might not be comfortable exposing exactly how many cat owners are in their subscriber file, but might be comfortable with giving an aggregated view of their audience. So [buyers] get directional information, but not exact information.
Are you seeing any signs of increased collaboration?
It’s very positive, what we’re seeing with consortiums. We’re working most deeply with Ampersand and Xandr. They are starting to collaborate with each other. And we’re seeing that with initiatives like OpenAP.
These are good signals that the industry is starting to come together in a way that makes everyone comfortable and [able to] maintain their competitive edge. But it’s going to take some time.
This interview has been edited and condensed.