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Future of TV Briefing: The present and future of TV and streaming’s identity layer

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This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at how the TV and streaming ad market’s identity layer has developed in 2022.

  • ID check
  • Warner Bros. Discovery’s burnt-out workforce, Hollywood’s extended COVID protocols, TikTok’s latest live shopping plan and more

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ID check

The key hits:

  • Identifiers are gaining broader adoption across streaming services.
  • No specific ID is likely to dominate the marketplace.
  • OpenAP and FreeWheel are taking steps to make IDs more interoperable.

The identity picture for TV and streaming is coming closer into focus.

Historically, traditional TV and streaming have evaded the third-party cookie problem. Set-top boxes, smart TVs and connected TV devices simply don’t support cookies. And while the IP address has been co-opted by streaming ad buyers and sellers as a cookie-like identifier, the IP address is an unreliable option.

But this year in particular, there has been some notable development in establishing an identity layer for TV and streaming. “We’re certainly seeing the identity concept take shape, and the concept is integral for the actual practical layer to become a thing,” said an agency executive.

  • IDs such as Unified ID 2.0, ad tech firm LiveRamp’s Ramp ID and advanced TV and streaming ad outfit OpenAP’s OpenID have increased their level of adoption among streaming services. 
  • FreeWheel is working to connect various streaming-capable identifiers, including OpenID and Ramp ID, to establish a lingua franca among the IDs. 
  • Most recently, OpenAP is making its OpenID available for use when advertisers programmatically buy inventory from participating streaming ad sellers — such as top-tier TV networks like Fox, NBCUniversal, Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery, which jointly own OpenAP — through supply-side platforms owned by Comcast-owned FreeWheel, Magnite and Microsoft-owned Xandr. 

“We’ve made a lot of progress with the individual ID space this year. Like, adoption of [Unified ID 2.0] on CTV from the beginning of the year to the end of the year is massively different,” said Mohammad Chughtai, global head of advanced TV at MiQ, which specializes in managing programmatic buying for advertisers and agencies.

But the sheer adoption of individual IDs will not be as meaningful a measure of progress as the eventual interoperability among these IDs. The industry has come around on accepting that “there’s not going to be one ID solution to rule them all,” said the agency executive. So for TV and streaming’s identity layer to not only take form but come to life, interoperability is a necessity.

“Part of the FreeWheel announcement is interoperability between OpenIDs and FreeWheel IDs. That was really key for both direct campaigns but it’s also really key for this announcement we just did from a programmatic perspective,” said OpenAP CEO David Levy.

Basically, there are two strains of activity underway.

The first is establishing support for individual IDs across the marketplace and to have that support span direct sales and programmatic sales so the basis for a campaign’s targeting and measurement match to avoid miscounts. Case in point: OpenAP’s extension of OpenID to programmatic sales, which allows advertisers to buy ads programmatically and/or directly from a TV network, CTV platform or streaming service that are targeted to a specific audience based on a single identifier and have the ads’ delivery measured against that same audience based on that same identifier. 

“What we’re basically doing is lining up a priority list from our publishers of all the endpoints that they can about and making sure that we can distribute an OpenID,” said Levy.

The second is establishing interoperability among those identifiers. Case in point: FreeWheel’s identity initiative.

“How do we connect buyers and sellers who want to transact in these new ways leveraging audience but do it in a way that, at the end of the day, how can the publisher say yes to OpenID, yes to the other ID, yes to some proprietary advertiser ID? How can we help to be that glue that allows for those two relationships to take place,” said FreeWheel general manager Mark McKee.

That glue is crucial but also complicated — and crucial because of the inherent complications in laying out this identity layer. Beneath the layer of IDs like OpenID, Ramp ID and UID 2.0 is the foundation of data used to link individuals and households to an ID. The data comprising that foundation ranges from people’s email addresses and IP addresses to personally identifiable information collected and managed by credit monitoring services including TransUnion and Experian. The core of OpenAP’s OpenID, for example, is TransUnion’s data, though the organization also licenses data from Experian and LiveRamp and appends data from participating publishers to its OpenIDs. 

In short, for the progress being made on the TV and streaming identity front, there is still plenty of work to be done. That work will entail broadening the adoption of the various individual IDs. YouTube, for example, is a top-two streaming service in terms of TV screen watch time but has not announced support for any of the mentioned IDs. However, the larger undertaking will be establishing the interoperability among them.

“That cross-ID space or the unification bit is where the biggest gaps are. As a marketer, you’re stuck between the choice of ‘Do I go really hard on a single ID space with the intent that I think this will be the future of identity? Or do I wait it out and try to get by the way I am and check in a year or two years from now in terms of where the industry has developed to?’” said Chughtai. “I think the vast majority of marketers are in that second camp.”

“Being able to buy on some type of ID solution… that is where the puck is headed,” said the agency executive. “But I do think we’re very much in the infant stages of learning both how real and how meaningful something like this is and where it goes in terms of further evolution.”

What we’ve heard

“Our fear is if [P&G marketing boss] Marc Pritchard shows up at CES of Cannes and says, ‘We’re going with Nielsen One,’ it’s going to be very hard for anybody to say they’re not going to do that too.”

Agency executive on the potential impact of top marketers in TV’s measurement currency shakeup

Numbers to know

15 million: Number of paid subscribers that NBCUniversal’s Peacock has.

-7%: Percentage year-over-year decline in national TV ad spending in August.

$63.7 billion: How much more annual revenue linear TV generates than streaming.

33%: Estimated year-over-year increase in ad sales for long-form ad-supported streaming services and connected TV platforms in 2023.

$990 million: How much revenue TikTok generated in Europe in 2021.

61%: Percentage increase in ad spend for FuboTV through The Trade Desk after adopting Unified ID 2.0 to sell connected TV ads.

The last number’s description has been updated to clarify that the ad spend increase only refers to ad spend routed through The Trade Desk.

What we’ve covered

Why Netflix, Paramount+ and other streaming services are borrowing from gaming IP as the media wars heat up:

  • “Cyberpunk: Edgerunners” has become one of the most-watched shows on Netflix.
  • Paramount+ has debuted a mockumentary show spoofing esports competitions.

Read more about gaming IP here.

With Roku leading the pack, study says 94% of households are reachable through connected TV:

  • In 2021, the share of U.S. households reachable through CTV ads bought on the open programmatic marketplace was 86%.
  • Roku leads with nearly half of the share of ad dollars going through CTV’s open programmatic marketplace.

Read more about CTV’s household penetration here.

TikTok claims to clean up its feeds as it increases the removal of fake accounts, ads and pre-teen users:

  • TikTok removed more than 59 million accounts in the second quarter of 2022.
  • The platform took down 113 million videos for policy violations.

Read more about TikTok’s cleanup effort here.

What we’re reading

Warner Bros. Discovery’s burnt-out workforce:
WarnerMedia and Discovery only officially merged in April, but the combined company’s employees are already feeling expended by its incessant wave of layoffs and cost-cutting, according to Vanity Fair.

Hollywood’s extended COVID protocols:
Film-and-TV unions have extended the health and safety protocols for productions that were introduced during the pandemic as the parties continue to sort out agreement on how to update the measures, according to Deadline.

TikTok’s latest live shopping plan:
TikTok plans to roll out a live shopping program in the U.S. through a deal with live shopping tech provider TalkShopLive, according to Financial Times.

Visual effects’ artists union ambitions:
Visual effects artists who work on movies and TV shows may form a union by next fall in light of increasingly demanding workloads, according to Bloomberg.

Free streamers’ single-show channels:
Free, ad-supported streaming TV services effectively serve as ambient entertainment, so maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that FAST channel operators are more or less dedicating their channels to consistently airing the same shows at (nearly) all hours, as Fierce Video reports.

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