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Media Spotlight: Q & A with Kristen Williams of SpotX

Blog Post01/25/2021
Media Spotlight: Q & A with Kristen Williams of SpotX

Our Media Spotlight series features interviews with industry experts from companies shaping the future of people-based marketing and identity-enabled media. Enjoy unique perspectives from a range of companies and roles on how marketers, and the media companies who support them, are adapting to new media realities spurred by industry shifts, consumer consumption habits and more.

In this interview, Michelle Swanston, Chief Client Officer of Tru Optik, a TransUnion Company, asks Kristen Williams, SVP of Strategic Partnerships for SpotX, what video advertising trends we should be paying attention to and how the supply-side can support improved audience-based buys for advertisers.

Michelle: Kristen, tell us about your role at SpotX.

Kristen: I lead our Strategic Partnerships Team which involves growing relationships with technology vendors in data, measurement, attribution and other areas to enhance the capabilities of our video advertising platform. We have compatibility with a range of partners to meet the needs of our clients — ensuring publishers can increase the value of their inventory and streamline demand, and advertisers can efficiently scale and measure campaigns.

Michelle: SpotX recently published its 2021 Global Video Advertising Trends report. What are the top three trends we all need to be paying attention to and planning for in 2021?

Kristen: First and foremost, consumers are flocking to over-the-top (OTT) video and connected TV (CTV) faster than expected, with ad-supported content growing particularly quickly. This trend will cascade a number of developments across the industry.

Advertisers are more conscious about efficiency and proving the effectiveness of their campaigns, so data-driven and measurable campaigns will take priority. CTV is attractive given the growing viewership, plus it affords brands the ability to target audiences and prove ROI through consumer outcomes. Cross-channel measurement is top of mind for advertisers as their strategies evolve.  

Finally, buyers are eager for more automated buying options that allow them to apply their own data or access data from the supply side to reach specific audience segments. We’ve already seen a 92% year-over-year increase in spend across programmatic guaranteed deals on our platform in 2020, and expect that to jump by 154% YoY in 2021 as advertisers realize the benefits.

Michelle: In a webinar last year, you and I discussed what advertisers could do to improve audience-based CTV buying strategies. Quality data and connectivity from a single point of access were two central considerations. In what key areas must the supply side continue to evolve to improve audience-based CTV buys for advertisers?

Kristen: That was a great conversation and so important as advertisers get more sophisticated in their CTV strategies. Media owners certainly recognize the power of audience data and are focusing on activating their own first-party data.

Evolving consumer privacy and data regulations will have a major effect on advertising. Google is phasing out cookies in Chrome; Apple will sunset its identifier for advertisers (IDFA); and consumers increasingly want more control over their data. This makes first-party data even more valuable and emphasizes the importance of the relationship between media owners and consumers. The trusted relationships media owners already have with their audiences positions them well to help consumers understand the value exchange of sharing data for a more personalized experience — while ensuring consumers are informed in terms of consent. 

As more data shifts to the supply side, media owners can help advertisers execute data-layered campaigns in a privacy-centric way. Advertisers benefit as they can tap into very accurate first-party datasets, or combine with additional third-party datasets, to target specific audience segments. This also provides more complete forecasting which helps scale data-driven campaigns as they execute.

Michelle: Last year, the data and identity landscape experienced some significant evolutions that continue today. Regarding 2021 priorities, what role do partnerships play in supporting your advertiser and publisher customer needs as they navigate evolving consumption habits and deprecation of digital identifiers?

Kristen: Advertisers and media owners alike are closely examining the state of the data they have available today and determining how it will help them engage key audiences. We’re seeing a lot of focus on data as clients think about how they approach identity in a more privacy-centric future. Do they have the right partners in place to help them operate and succeed once many of the identifiers used today are gone? 

Specifically, we’re seeing interest in three areas: 

  • Universal ID solutions to continue to manage identity without relying on cookies
  • New authentication strategies and relying more on owned first-party data 
  • Data clean room strategies to match and analyze data without transferring or sharing it

The right approach will ultimately depend on the organization’s goals and setup, which is why we at SpotX remain agnostic. We enable numerous integrations in order to support clients in whichever technology choices they’ve made. 

Michelle: If you could pick only one connected or streaming device to have in your home, what would it be? What type of content do you spend the most time streaming and why?

Kristen: I primarily stream content directly through our smart TV. Lately, I’ve been binging Yellowstone, The Undoing, and The Queen’s Gambit. Our whole family streams, so there’s a healthy mix of Disney movies and kid-friendly shows thrown in there as well!


The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TransUnion. The information contained in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice.  You should consult your own attorney or financial adviser regarding your particular situation.  TransUnion does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided.  The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute an endorsement by TransUnion.  TransUnion LLC and its subsidiaries and affiliates (“TransUnion”) make no endorsement, recommendation, or representation with respect to the information provided herein. For complete details of TransUnion products, visit

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