TechBytes with Allison Metcalfe, GM of LiveRamp TV, LiveRamp

TechBytes with Allison Metcalfe, GM of LiveRamp TV, LiveRamp
TechBytes with Allison Metcalfe, GM of LiveRamp TV, LiveRamp

Why did LiveRamp choose to enter into the TV space?

Even though TV is one of the most influential advertising channels — accounting for $224 billion in global marketing spend — it’s the least sophisticated when it comes to audience targeting and measurement. In fact, traditional linear TV is largely the same as it was in 1978, relying on basic demographic categories to inform ad buying. This is due in part to audience fragmentation across our many devices and streaming services, causing back-end players to struggle to figure out how to best reach a single viewer with the right message.

As a proven leader in identity resolution technology, LiveRamp is in a unique position to create a unified view of an individual across devices. This was the premise for LiveRamp extending its IdentityLink solution to TV in 2018, effectively enabling people-based marketing capabilities across the advanced TV ecosystem.

Tell us about LiveRamp’s role and technology in providing solutions and identity resolution for advanced TV players.

We are often referred to as the “connector” for the advanced TV ecosystem, linking together advertisers, media companies, data providers and measurement firms to enable better cross-channel consumer experiences across traditional TV, OTT and CTV. By extending what we do best — accurately identifying individuals and households over time and devices — to TV, we are helping the entire ecosystem create people-based solutions by resolving multiple identifiers within our identity graph, such as IP addresses, cookies, mobile IDs and more.

LiveRamp’s IdentityLink for TV solution enhances the broad-based reach and branding benefits of traditional television with the data-rich, audience-targeting precision of digital marketing channels. IdentityLink for TV enables brands, agencies, programmers and technology platforms alike to execute people-based TV media planning, buying and measurement that is scalable and secure. Brands can fold advanced TV into their omnichannel marketing strategy, agencies can build their own advanced TV platforms and solutions, and networks/programmers can identify their valuable addressable audiences across owned and operated platforms.

Connected TV is increasingly dominating advertising conversations. inWhat’s top of mind for advertisers when it comes to CTV right now?

Connected TV is the true manifestation of TV and digital advertising converging into one, fueled by the rapidly growing demand for advertising across the internet-connected TV. For those of us who attended CES, we know it’s showing no signs of slowing down. What’s “top of mind” though depends on the type of buyer, each who will focus on different elements of their CTV strategy.

Digitally focused buyers want to know that they can use the data that matters to them and that they can easily measure results without a large lag time. And traditional TV folks want to ensure that they can still have a broad reach and translate delivery results into more historic, traditional metrics like GRPs. Overall though, ecosystem players are trying to solve for things like measurability, viewability and addressability while others are working on freeing up more programmatic inventory.

How has TV measurement evolved in recent years? Where do you see it heading in 2019 and beyond?

TV measurement has no doubt improved, with recent partnerships such as LiveRamp and Adobe stitching together digital and TV audiences for improved targeting and measurement. That said, CTV ads have a different set of challenges than digital simply because of technical challenges like format and tracking. Those involved in CTV will try to answer questions around viewability to ensure promised impressions are delivered to the right audience.

Collectively, we will need to create a uniform benchmark around questions like how and what we’re measuring, how audience measurement plays in, and differentiators like whether it’s a TV, digital or mobile TV video ad. Once measurement scale is defined, technologies such as  programmatic can enter the marketplace to make pricing better and more efficient.

Some hallmark TV events such as the Super Bowl and March Madness are quickly approaching. Will the growing adoption of CTV by viewers make a measurable difference this year for advertisers?

Think about it this way: Consumer fragmentation is taking place. Advertisers can still reach audiences during these marquee events through traditional linear TV buys, but they can’t rest on those laurels alone. If they want to maximize their advertising reach and impact, they will need to reach these people as they access these events across CTV apps and services. This is an extra element in the media plan that didn’t exist 10 years ago, but the juice is worth the squeeze.

CTV provides advertisers with additional targeting levers to pull and more granular measurement opportunities, which as an added bonus,  could serve as an indicator for the effectiveness of their linear TV buy. The great thing about CTV is that it also opens the door for advertisers who may not have had an opportunity to afford a traditional Super Bowl ad slot the chance to get in front of the same audience — but perhaps on a smaller, more affordable scale.

Do you expect more networks and programmers to participate in CTV this year? If yes, what needs to happen to make that possible?

The idea of more networks and programmers adding CTV to their suite of advertising solutions is already well underway. Not only are they rolling out more streaming services, but they’re leveraging this new opportunity to have a direct relationship with consumers to use identity resolution services to build addressable audiences for targeting and analytics — and deliver great advertising experiences.

In the near term, network and programmers will continue to bake CTV into the overall plans they’re selling to advertisers, knowing that a substantial portion of CTV ad buys is still based on content today. Further, overall we expect to see more of a convergence of brands’ current CTV and digital investments into a more holistic outreach strategy. This unified view will begin to drive ad dollars as the effectiveness of those ad dollars begin to get justified.

What changes will ad networks make to adapt to this technology?

Networks, along with advertising platforms, are finding to ways to capture viewers amid countless hours binge-streaming the latest shows on Hulu and Roku. In order to get a piece of the CTV pie, ad networks will need to support CTV targeting, not just display. That said, it’s not just ad networks, but more so tech platforms like DSPs and DMPs that will need a single, ubiquitous identifier to easily plan, buy and measure CTV as more inventory becomes available for programmatic advertising.

Let’s talk challenges. What are the biggest worries for advertisers at CTV’s current stage? Is cord-cutting as “doom and gloom” as it seems?

What’s interesting about CTV is that it doesn’t impose one overarching difficulty shared across the ecosystem. As one example, the digital side of this industry is most concerned with fraud, viewability, inventory transparency and measurement, while consumer experience has remained a top priority for those in traditional TV. Before either side is ready to fully invest, we’ll need to clarify ambiguities around analytics, measurement and educate brands and agencies on all the various consumer experiences that can be delivered in this brand-safe environment.

Tech platforms also face a unique challenge, as they are trying to get ahead of the curve and define standards that ensure better user experience, e.g. define what fraud is in CTV. When you hear the term “cord-cutting,” there is a negative connotation that consumers are fleeing to ad-free environments and services. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Consumers are watching more content than ever before. I would instead call it “cord shifting:” people have a mix of viewing options from streaming services to skinny bundles.

No matter how you want to label it, LiveRamp sees this growing consumer fragmentation as an exciting opportunity for us to do what we do —  stitch together even more consumer identities so down the road, more data can be infused to the entire ad buying and selling process.

What piece is data in the CTV puzzle? Can it be held accountable in today’s privacy-driven environment for TV?

While data-infused TV is proving successful across advanced TV offerings such as addressable TV, it’s still somewhat of a challenge for those in CTV, particularly as it pertains to accessing data for both targeting and measurement. Think of it this way; both traditional TV and digital advertisers want to answer the same questions: “Who saw my ad and where did they see it?” But, buyers are using different data sources to arrive at their answer.

Traditional TV buyers rely on broader age and gender panel-based ratings, while digital folks are more granular and think along the lines of clicks-to-conversions. CTV is often referred to a bridge between these two worlds, and by accurately identifying who is behind the screen, we can help provide both high level and people-based performance insights that appease both traditional and digitally minded buyers.

Just like all other addressable marketing channels, LiveRamp puts consumer privacy at the forefront of the identity solutions we build. CTV is no different. Consumers must be provided notice and choice, and advertisers must abide by those requests. Fortunately, identity resolution not only helps us protect and abide by a consumer’s choice, but it also ensures that CTV advertising can avoid ad fraud.

In which industries do you seeing CTV making the biggest impact?

Entertainment and film are obvious given the nature of TV content, however, CTV also holds promise for bespoke, growing direct-to-consumer brands who historically may have been sidelined from linear TV due to the steep investment required. Not only is the barrier to entry lower in CTV, but CTV also provides an opportunity for brands to deliver interactive and shoppable experiences.

Instead of simply showing a movie trailer, viewers can see the next showing time at their nearest theater. Instead of an ad for a local auto dealer, viewers can see which vehicles are actually on the lot. Instead of seeing an ad simply promoting a seasonal clothing sale, viewers can purchase a new dress or pair of shoes in a matter of remote clicks. The opportunities for brands to leverage sight, sound and motion while delivering an immersive experience is one of the reasons CTV is the fastest-growing marketing opportunity for advertisers.

Thank you for answering all our questions!

Allison Metcalfe is the General Manager of the TV division at LiveRamp. Allison is responsible for driving the strategy around bringing people-based marketing capabilities to television. Prior to LiveRamp, she served as the Senior Director of Customer Success at Demandbase. She also brings experience from earlier customer success roles at Jigsaw (now Data.com, acquired by Salesforce) and Equilar. Allison holds a BA from the University of St. Thomas.

LiveRampLiveRamp provides the identity platform leveraged by brands and their partners to deliver innovative products and exceptional experiences. LiveRamp IdentityLink connects people, data, and devices across the digital and physical world, powering the people-based marketing revolution and allowing consumers to safely connect with the brands and products they love.

LiveRamp is headquartered in the technology hub of San Francisco, delivering privacy-conscious solutions to market and honoring the best practices of leading associations, including the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) ICON and App Choices programs, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the Data & Marketing Association, and the Advertising Research Foundation.

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