Connected TV advertising is struggling to keep up with its glowing reputation, which promises all the glitz and glamor of traditional TV advertising, but now with the added granularity and guarantees of digital advertising. But Faultline has pointed out time and time again that this is the long-term goal, not the present reality.
It was therefore refreshing to speak to an ad tech vendor this week that concurred with our diagnosis. SVP of Addressability and Ecosystem at data platform LiveRamp, Travis Clinger, agreed that CTV advertising capabilities are still not up to the standards of the rest of the digital advertising ecosystem but was optimistic that “it is starting to catch up as marketer demand focuses more on the format.”
He feels that the antiquated ad tech is largely rooted in the slow and grinding start that CTV saw. “For a while, there was only a limited supply of CTV, so there was no standardized addressability on it. You had IP addresses, but that was it,” he recalled. With the rise of people-based IDs, such as OTT platform log-ins, the industry has more data to stimulate development.
LiveRamp is a data connectivity platform, which allows marketers to use first, second and third-party data to streamline consumer journeys to their brands. Marketers can use rewards or data to personalize ad experiences, while also seeing insights and analytics on this performance.
“Any experience where a consumer can interact with a marketer, we are involved,” Clinger told us, with the company largely focusing on online display and CTV advertising.
LiveRamp’s proprietary offering is its Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS), essentially a mechanism for connecting anonymized audience information from publishers with marketers and advertisers. That is a fair bit of ad tech fluff, so let us break it down using recent partner Tubi as an example.
Tubi users log-in to the platform using an email address, which is then hashed and passed along to LiveRamp’s ATS via a secure API. LiveRamp then matches this address to its identity graph, and if it can find a people-based ID that matches the email, this is passed back to Tubi as a RampID token.
RampID is the people-based ID that is created from LiveRamp’s identity graphs. This pools together anonymized offline data sources – emails, addresses, telephones – to create identity-based audience segments.
Tubi can convert this token back into a people-based ID without ever compromising the identity of a user, and then connect it to advertisers via ad buying platforms and open exchanges, including both supply-side and demand-side platforms. “Our goal is to make this data addressable for the market to reach”, Clinger explained.
Marketers can also field their own emails to LiveRamp and collect tokenized people-based IDs in the same fashion.
The recent partnership with Tubi marked the first time that a US-based AVoD had implemented RampID in its bidstream while also leveraging the ATS technology. However, Clinger confirmed that this was not the first time LiveRamp had delved into AVoD. The company has partnered with Hulu and Roku before, but these were far more closed arrangements, where LiveRamp was simply facilitating direct connections between publishers and advertisers.
“The Tubi partnership is way more open, and we expect to see a lot more deals like this in the coming months,” Clinger shared. Already LiveRamp is talking to over a dozen more AVoD platforms, the majority of which are in North America, but there is a global mix. Another unnamed platform is already live.
Clinger relied on the buzz-phrase “people-based addressability”, which to us just sounds like normal addressability. Despite the muddy phrasing, it seems what he is getting at is that most targeted advertising on CTV still relies on IP addresses, which is bound to change as privacy regulations ramp up.
Clinger feels this is the biggest challenge for CTV advertisers. “That’s why we are so aggressively rolling out ATS to CTV publishers. It’s going to go the way of the cookie, and we need to keep the industry running,” he argued.
We suggested that perhaps another data standard – or token – is not what the ad tech industry needs as it wages its never-ending war against fragmented standards, but Clinger feels that interoperability between standards is the key. “The beauty of ATS is that it is interoperable with any ID,” he argued, citing The Trade Desk’s UnifiedID as one example.
LiveRamp was recently offered some wiggle room from Google, which confirmed that advertisers could use its IdentityLink ID to transact on SSPs. However, this only stands for private marketplace deals, so is hardly a step into the open and addressable future that LiveRamp is preaching. Perhaps one of the disadvantages of being interoperable is that Google can call the shots.
LiveRamp monetizes ATS on the marketer side, meaning that the service is provided to publishers free of charge. This is done on a SaaS model, so that marketers only pay for data they harvest from the platform.
Naturally, Clinger was keen to emphasize that LiveRamp is privacy compliant, which can be a task when crossing regulatory borders. Although based in San Francisco, LiveRamp has a global reach, with Clinger noting that it is rapidly expanding into Latin America and Asia Pacific.