Imagine two deserted islands. They try to build a bridge together but can only communicate by sending bottles with maps and plans back and forth.
This is the historic problem for the buying and selling sides of TV advertising, according to FreeWheel Chief Product Officer Jon Whitticom.
On Wednesday, the advertising tech and product arm of Comcast announced new identity integrations to bring the buying and selling sides of the TV ecosystem together and, hopefully, learn nicely. FreeWheel’s platform now supports ID solutions from Blockgraph, LiveRamp, TransUnion, Experian, Merkle and OpenAP, which can be shared with publishers and advertisers’ first- and third-party datasets for more accurate cross-screen targeting and measurement.
Whether it’s a distributor, an MVPD, a content rights owner, what do you have, every piece of the TV industry has “different visibility in identity signals, and different [ways] to triangulate back to who those people are and what those families represent, “Whitticom said. And FreeWheel, which describes itself as a cross-industry TV connectivity platform, saw an opportunity to” bring identity to transaction. “
According to Whitticom, the new feature is the next logical step on the programmatic roadmap, which is pushing for one-on-one targeting for television content. Programmers are still braving the transition from public demos to identifiers based on first-party data. As an industry, we could not “translate across those different identifiers,” he said, but translating identity initiatives into integrations allows FreeWheel to deliver one-on-one reach across scales across channels.
The scarcity of TV inventory compared to digital channels makes identity a particularly critical bridge between buyers and sellers, as it answers important questions from both sides.
“The sales side wants to monetize its supply efficiently,” Whitticom said.
For example, broadcasters often sell campaigns based on reaching a percentage of a demographic in certain markets a certain number of times. (Half of men aged 25-40 in Nashville, say.) If a stronger identity for the SSP and listing site advertising server means that the programmer can achieve that goal with two-thirds of the number of general ads, then it opens up an enormous pool of inventory.
Advertisers are trying to frequency cap and attribute campaigns across an impossibly fragmented world of linear, CTV and video simultaneously, Whitticom said. “Identity – having different levels of identity – became essential to make the TV environment more effective in terms of planning, allocating and targeting.”
There are many identity resolution solutions on the market. (Did anyone say clean room?) And many of these can be a viable force for improvement and standardization.
FreeWheel does not create data assets – “We do not want to be another first-party data onboarding partner; we let companies bring in their data sets,” Whitticom said. But clean rooms do have a place in the industry, he said, because they help companies understand new intersections of data signals – including measurement, attribution and ROAS – by working with partners.
Reconciling data assets and endpoints between advertisers and publishers, such as translating email addresses into household IDs, can also help marketers achieve incremental reach in CTV and resolve for frequency constraints, he added.
Bringing together LiveRamp’s proprietary IDs, Blockgraph’s SaaS solutions for TV distributors and TransUnion’s and Experian’s massive data companies’ is how FreeWheel hopes to develop the core, core brain of connecting identity layers and beyond to solve them, “Whitticom said.
Blockgraph was a particularly important piece of FreeWheel’s identity puzzle, as the company’s software solutions were built for TV distributors (and a half-sister company, as it is partly owned by Comcast). “Partnering with Blockgraph was really about bringing in shared data assets and guaranteeing the ability to trace those household IDs back to something the buying side actors want to use,” he said.
FreeWheel has conducted “custom integrations” with partners to ensure that their data assets meet identity resolution and speed requirements, Whitticom said. The idea of the offer is “to take all the different identity assets that our partners have built over the years and bring them directly into a ‘television epicenter’.”