CTV Pushes the Boundaries of Advertising Possibilities: Q&A with Andre Swanston, Tru Optik


Connected TV (CTV) continues on an aggressive growth swing. But there are still quite a few challenges, which if not addressed, will be a major roadblock to support this growth. Andre Swanston (pictured below), CEO and co-founder, Tru Optik, talks about what the industry faces, the privacy concerns that will need to be addressed, and what the future holds for CTV.

ExchangeWire: How does Tru Optik work with industry players to help enhance the overall OTT consumer experience?

Andre Swanston: Connected TV is the future of television; but if media companies don’t figure out how to monetise this new media, and advertisers can’t measure it, a market can’t truly be made. Tru Optik is facilitating the future of TV by helping to create this market and ensure all participants derive value, from the content publisher, to the advertiser, to the consumer.

Tru Optik provides audience-based targeting with efficient measurements on the individual or household level. Because of this, companies can use Tru Optik to leverage data in order to deliver better experiences directly to their intended target audience.

What are the challenges the CTV industry still faces?

The expected value of advertising and subscription fees for OTT (over-the-top) video streaming services by 2020 is USD$50bn (£37bn). Legacy measurement, data management, and campaign validation vendors have not adapted to the four biggest challenges in CTV.

Ratings aren’t relevant in a dynamic ad environment; and a guestimate on content consumption is not a proxy for how many times an ad was seen. There are no cookies and very few device IDs. None of the industry privacy associations across digital have a viable or scalable solution across CTV.

Tru Optik

Andre Swanston, CEO & Co-Founder, Tru Optik

Registered user data is at the heart of Addressable Cable TV. Advertising does not port over as a reliable scalable tactic across CTV because most CTV ads happen outside of a registered user environment; and password sharing is so common that half the time it’s the not the registered user’s home where content is being consumed.

What are the top privacy concerns around target-based OTT advertising?

OTT and CTV are revolutionising television and pushing the boundaries of what is possible with respect to content and ad capabilities. This paradigm shift is providing consumers on-demand access to more long-form entertainment choices, and enabling advertisers to reach their target consumers with digital-targeting precision. However, there were no standards created for opt-out and consumer privacy. For example, if I opt-out on my Roku, do the publishers or ad tech platforms even know? If I opt-out on a TV network's website or mobile app, will they carry that opt-out to my Apple TV or Xbox when I come back to watch more content? There has been almost no innovation in using data and cross-screen reconciliation to drive a better and more reliable consumer privacy and opt-out experience.

If privacy issues aren’t addressed across the OTT industry, what’s at risk?

TV targeting and personalisation capabilities enable publishers and advertisers to forge strong bonds with consumers. However, this can only happen if the consumer knows their privacy is being taken seriously.

Since Connected TV device manufacturers control little to none of the video advertising on their platforms, when a consumer activates their privacy features on CTV, publishers and advertisers either do not, or cannot, act upon this information. This is largely because the underlying members don’t yet have the tech and data integrations to support it. In fact, 90% of broadcast/cable OTT apps mention cookies and device IDs in their privacy policy, but not CTV.

So, publishers, data providers, advertisers, and ad tech platforms risk legal issues, or the government coming up with onerous regulations that could hamper the growth of advanced TV advertising.

Why has Tru Optik launched OptOut.TV, and what are the benefits to the consumer?

We realised before the rest of the industry that there wasn’t an option for consumers to control how to opt-out or control their privacy with respect to targeted ads on CTV. Since people don’t mind seeing ads they like or are interested in, OptOut.TV will allow consumers to control which ads they actually want to see. And, more importantly, how data and insight around them is used.

Where do you see the future of CTV/OTT advertising going, and where would you like to see it go?

CTV/OTT is growing faster than the rate of mobile video in its infancy stages, so the potential for targeting is growing as well, and it is actually growing faster than any other vertical. In the next 24 months, it won’t be called 'Connected TV' anymore, it’ll be just 'TV', for some demos it’s already referred to as just TV.

More CTV buying happened in October 2017 than all Q4 2016 combined; and 2018 will grow even faster than 2017. There will be more viewers, more devices, more subscription services, more free ad-supported services, and much more data to be managed.