Like many of you, the last year reshaped my worldview. I’m in disbelief that just one year ago, TransUnion participated in what would become our last in-person event for the foreseeable future — RampUp. RampUp 2021 looked very different from my computer screen, and was one of many reminders of how much I miss connecting with industry colleagues without virtual constraints.
I want to applaud the LiveRamp team because in many ways, this year’s event still elevated important voices, fostered great conversations, and gave us an opportunity to reset and realign on what’s going to be important for ad tech in the months ahead. In my calls with colleagues and through the sessions, a few themes stood out to me.
- Yes, cookies are still on the way out
It’s been just over a year since Google delivered a big blow to the digital advertising ecosystem, and it feels like we still can’t have a conversation without acknowledging this impending reality. While we’re still regrouping around what a cookieless ecosystem will look like, overall, there are many people-based marketers who are excited for what’s to come.
As we align our perceptions around our ecosystem’s future, there are tactics to employ in the short term to help maintain scalable targeting in a fragmented environment. There’s also work to be done in rearchitecting an understanding of identity that can power the long-term future of the ecosystem.
- TV is everywhere
I think most would agree this is in part related to the first trend. I’ve certainly seen advertisers turning specifically to the streaming ecosystem as they wait to see what plays out in digital. And with most of us staying at home for the better part of last year, we all understand the growth of streaming — perhaps a little too well.
Amid this period of accelerated digitization, I was interested to hear perspectives from leaders in digital TV. In one session on the fragmented landscape, Ashely Hovey, Director of Roku and Julie Detraglia, Senior Vice President at Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, shared how their platforms help deliver relevant consumer experiences — through original content production and based on the understanding of consumers developed through their proprietary data.
Platforms across the connected TV and over-the-top landscapes have completely rescripted what’s possible for TV targeting, but this is still being revised. Platforms often partner with data and identity providers to further enhance their view of consumers and augment datasets. With more insights and information about consumer viewing behavior, as well as other attributes, advertisers are able to plan more effectively, target accurately, and more seamlessly integrate advertising and content experiences.
- An era of data collaboration is coming
Publishers like Microsoft, NBCUniversal and Hearst helped confirm this trend we at TransUnion have discussed for a while. Owned datasets will be the basis of continuity as cookies are deprecated, and large publishers have dedicated a lot of time to create an authenticated view of web users in preparation. But what we’ve learned is few of these companies feel infallible in the view of consumer identity they’re creating. As NBCUniversal Vice President Nola Solomon shared, it’s about taking what data they do have and translating it into an actionable identifier.
This is a common thread that’s been building for both marketers and media companies as identifier restrictions increased in the last 18 months. Most companies don’t have the resources to translate a first-party understanding of consumers into better experiences at scale across channels, and it’s unrealistic to think every company is going to try to build their own identity graph to run across the ecosystem.
Data collaboration across marketers, media companies and identity providers will be key to securing that vision and the long-term health of the publisher ecosystem.
How it all comes together
The consumer was at the heart of many discussions, as they often are in the decisions marketers and media companies make. It’s critical we keep them top of mind, which is sometimes forgotten despite best intentions.
Prioritizing the consumer means making privacy, consent and trust parts of the equation as we think about how we’ll drive the next generation of relevant experiences. These principles are twofold and will be key to partnerships moving forward.
I hope these pillars are part of the conversations each of you is having, and I think they can and should lead to challenging questions and thoughtful answers. Those are the types of discussions we’re having and ones that will be most meaningful as we move ahead. If you’re interested in discussing how your company will adjust to a new view of consumers in a fragmenting ecosystem, I hope you’ll reach out.
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