How OTT is Using Data to Support Transparency, Privacy and Trust

TV consumption in the era of rising over-the-top (OTT) and mobile viewing options gives marketers the potential to get to know their audiences better, providing more relevant ads and one-to-one messaging. To take advantage of the precision digital devices provide in reaching consumers, some kind of contract or understanding must be reached.

The roll-out of state legislation like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), taking effect in the new year, adds some structure to the relationship between viewers and marketers. But thus far, data and identity vendors have found themselves on the front lines, in the position to establish some provisional terms for privacy, as technology outpaces regulations.

The stakes are especially high both for brands and the tech solutions that would use data to connect them with consumers. Regardless of the advances that enable brands to message consumers in a direct, addressable way, the consumers are understandably suspicious about the use of their data. This informs the need for transparency about the data supply chain.

At the end of the day, the data is useless or indeed harmful for brands if using it alienates their intended audience. 

The connected TV (CTV) landscape is a fitting snapshot of the complex multichannel system where advanced identity solutions are required for marketers to keep up with consumers who view content across many devices and platforms.

A single sports fan might watch a documentary on the ESPN+ app on a tablet while eating breakfast, catch part of a live game on Hulu or YouTube on their phone while commuting, then watch the rest of it on a big screen in the living room at night. They might even keep a cable or satellite TV subscription going for other shows they or the housemates like to watch. Depending on how enthusiastic they are about a particular shoe brand, protein shake, gambling site or dating app, they might find value in hearing more information from such a brand, perhaps even daily, taking into account previous purchases, cross-promotions with their favorite sports team and other details that make sense in the context of the interaction, maybe even the weather outside.

Identity solutions that build trust with this consumer through transparent communication will make it easier for marketers to reach them across devices in this potentially meaningful way.

In the growing CTV space, Tru Optik stayed ahead of the curve by amassing a comprehensive identity graph and OTT Marketing Cloud, allowing privacy compliant insights into some 80 million households. According to CEO and co-founder Andre Swanston, agreements with publishers and other partners have included the foundations for privacy compliance current with the upcoming legislation.

Swanston told me, “We are the most widely distributed and used data marketplace for identity across connected TV, so obviously there is some altruism. But also for our wellbeing, facilitating in a privacy-compliant way supports the growth of the overall ecosystem. We couldn’t wait around for regulations or consortiums or independent companies that don’t really have the breadth and insight into the ecosystem that we have.”

This month, Tru Optik announced beta testing for a new free privacy offering, Privacy.TV, which becomes commercially available next year.

Privacy.TV aims at providing privacy options, including consumer opt-in and opt-out, across devices. There’s an increasing need for this because there’s no independent standard, and because the various checkpoints for data are siloed and incomplete. For instance, not all devices have identifiers for advertising (IFAs).

“IFAs are not standardized,” Swanston explained. “Not every device has its own device ID, where that info is passed on to adtech platforms. The issue is that not all devices have them, and not all publishers pass them on. So, therefore, not all adtech platforms use them.”

Without this kind of comprehensive linking of devices, a viewer could opt out on the screen in the living room, but the tablet in the bedroom might never know.

According to Swanston, the Tru Optik solution includes 70 to 80 percent of TV’s US audience. Major publishers are buying in, as well as demand-side platforms (DSPs). The device manufacturers themselves are slower to catch up, perhaps because they aren’t as involved directly with the ad business. But Swanston said there has been some early buy-in with manufacturers and OS operators.

“There’s a good amount of buy-in,” Swanston stated. “A lot of partners have been begging to do the right thing. Where we’ve not had the conversation is with brands themselves.”

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