CES 2024 landed at a time of unprecedented uncertainty in the connected media and marketing spaces. With Google finally kicking off third-party cookie deprecation in Chrome, many marketers are being forced to take hard looks at their data, targeting and measurement capabilities. Concurrently , the growth of streaming video and emergence of new channels are creating new opportunities for marketers — provided they have the technologies and expertise in place to capitalize on them.
With so much change on the horizon, finding the signal in the noise is crucial to ensuring success going forward. To help start 2024 on the right foot, here are a few of the TransUnion team’s key takeaways from this year’s show.
One of the most prominent marketing stories throughout 2023 was the growth of streaming, particularly at the expense of linear TV — and this narrative only grew in volume at CES this year.
With a deluge of data predicting the decline of linear TV (like Nielsen’s report from last summer noting linear TV viewing dropped below 50% of total TV usage for the first time in July), focus in the connected media industry is squarely on streaming: how to define it and better monetize it, and how it stacks up to linear experiences. But while the streaming revolution has vastly increased the number of choices the average viewer has at their fingertips, it has also fueled worsening fragmentation woes for advertisers.
Given that, it should come as no surprise that identity solutions with the capability to connect as many signals as possible across the widest possible range of US consumers were at the forefront of marketing conversations at this year’s show.
Case in point: In a wide-ranging discussion at CES, Julie Clark, SVP of Diversified Markets, Media & Entertainment at TransUnion, joined a host of other streaming industry veterans to discuss the future of connected media, and how conversations swirling around linear versus streaming don’t really matter to someone consuming content. Regardless of how the content is delivered to the glass, consumers are still expecting the same lean-back, premium experiences.
This is important when set against the heavily fragmented context of the current streaming TV landscape. Complexity may be increasing, but at the same time, consumers are expecting more relevant advertising messages and more valuable interactions with brands and marketers. This creates an uphill battle for connected media advertisers to create a holistic picture of a consumer across touchpoints and deliver on the promise of a seamless consumer experience across delivery methods — something only robust, forward-looking identity solutions can provide.
“Ultimately, it comes down to understanding the value that happens in the streaming ecosystem,” Clark said. “There’s actually beauty in fragmentation because it offers marketers the ability to have multiple touchpoints with consumers.”
By tying disparate signals together with identity, Clark explained advertisers can zero in on specific consumer preferences and develop a more holistic view of that consumer, improving marketing outcomes and ultimately delivering a better experience to the person sitting on the other side of the TV screen. By approaching the streaming ecosystem in this way, fragmentation stops being a challenge and instead offers advertisers the opportunity to reach viewers in ways that weren’t possible with linear TV.
Another key takeaway from CES this year was the marketing ecosystem’s need for reliable and actionable data to power campaign planning, execution and measurement isn’t going to disappear along with the cookie. Instead, marketers will need to turn to new sources of data to ensure they’re still able to meet their goals.
First-party data has long been the gold standard for marketers because of its clarity; it’s hard to find signals more reliable and actionable than those collected directly from consumer interactions. But for all the precision targeting and personalization it can enable, the potential of first-party data is also inherently limited by its availability (or lack thereof) and scale. Brands that build marketing campaigns exclusively based off their own first-party data may find initial success but will eventually run into reach and frequency issues as they exhaust their limited targeting pools.
One solution floated at this year’s show to offset some of these first-party data challenges was connectivity. Individual brands may be limited by their own first-party datasets, but by connecting in a privacy-conscious way, marketers can securely (and safely) expand their data footprints. In a panel discussion with leaders from TelevisaUnivision, Havas Media Group and Snowflake, TransUnion SVP of Product for Marketing Solutions Gareth Davies summed it up this way:
“Collaboration — two or more parties coming together — starts to fill in the collective blanks and adds a point of view that wasn’t ever really offered in the cookie world to the same degree,” he said.
While this isn’t necessarily a new concept (it’s been going on in the streaming space where the cookie has never really been relevant for some time), renewed focus on data collaboration is going to be a crucial tool for marketers looking to replace the scale lost by cookie deprecation.
From cookie deprecation to a rapidly changing streaming environment, marketers are facing no shortage of challenges — or opportunities.
CES is always proves to be a forum for some of the brightest minds in marketing and media to come together to tackle the biggest challenges facing their industries. And even with so much change in the air, 2024 was no different. By continuing to look forward to the next frontiers in data, content, addressability, personalization and beyond, players across the ecosystem can prepare themselves to not just meet these headwinds in the coming year —but thrive despite them.