CTV Advertising Needs Gated Communities, Not More Walled Gardens

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As connected TV continues to attract a greater share of dollars from advertisers, the industry should avoid one of the major pitfalls of its digital predecessors: that of the walled garden. 

As we have seen with digital planning for decades, walled gardens, particularly the social giants, while great at providing reach and audience segmentation, have failed to provide an open ecosystem where brands can holistically plan, activate, and measure media. Now, during times of increased pressure to better understand the efficacy of ad spend due to privacy changes, walled gardens present even more of an obstacle as brands struggle to understand their audiences at scale. 

Providers of CTV data and inventory have an opportunity to shape the landscape of the relatively new and quickly growing ad channel, creating something distinct from digital marketing’s data silos and monopolies. These ad networks and media sellers can take a more open approach — a gated community instead of a walled garden — to satisfy the needs of brands who want to plan and measure spend across the entire CTV universe.

Forging a Collaborative Data Ecosystem in CTV
While the huge audiences and simplicity of walled gardens may seem appealing to digital advertisers at first, the inability to access data for your own campaigns greatly reduces marketers’ power to manage reach and frequency while measuring results.

Over half of all digital ad spend goes to three giant platforms who safeguard their own data and apply it to targeting and attribution behind closed doors. In the CTV industry, the main OEMs and OTT providers must take intentional steps to ensure they don’t recreate monopolies that hinder marketing’s capabilities. From OEMs with automatic content recognition data to streaming services with rich profile information, providers of CTV data and inventory can create an interconnected ecosystem instead of silos.

While CTV is often said to have walled gardens because audience data does not flow freely between different ad inventory suppliers, it’s not too late to alter this course. A shift toward transparency and collaboration will benefit brands that might currently struggle to get a complete picture of their target consumers, control ad frequency, or measure the impact of their CTV buys across different platforms.   

To improve the vitality of CTV advertising, owners of prized CTV audience data need to enable access to trusted third parties that will extend the number of ways that brands can blend and apply data in various use cases. Ultimately, razing the proverbial garden’s walls with collaboration will create a more open approach that will benefit the TV and cross-screen ad ecosystem and provide greater value to brands, in turn benefiting media sellers, who thrive on brand dollars. 

Building a Gated Community Instead of a Walled Garden
Developing third-party relationships with a core set of trusted partners can solve for the lack of cross-platform visibility and walled gardens in CTV. But this doesn’t mean opening a data house for everyone to dip into, which was the practice early on and led to the commoditization of valuable audience data.  

Rather, building a gated community means choosing select partners to license out data to for key use cases that afford brands more holistic access to data in the execution of their media strategies. With this approach, providers can still maintain exclusivity for audience targeting that is critical to their business, but also grant the broader ecosystem access to a more diverse, representative TV data set for planning, activation, measurement, and attribution. 

While the gated community model will benefit brands with increased visibility into audience data, CTV data providers also stand to gain from the collaborative approach. Privacy-safe data collaboration will allow OEMs and OTT providers to enhance their own targeting capabilities, offer more robust audiences, and sharpen measurement. Collaboration is key to unlocking the value of audience data that will otherwise remain limited to a small handful of OEMs and OTT providers.

To avoid the blind spots and inefficiencies of walled gardens, providers of CTV audience targeting and inventory must open their doors to partnerships that amplify the value of ad space with robust measurement and attribution data. Healthy data collaboration will lay the groundwork for a CTV universe that aids brands with transparency while empowering inventory suppliers to offer a more valuable and comprehensive product, ensuring sustainable partnership and more robust ad buys that will serve all parties.

Serge Matta

Serge Matta is head of commercial at LG Ads Solutions