The CTV buyer's guide to identity resolution

The connected TV (CTV) market is maturing right before our eyes. Two major networks, NBCUniversal and Fox, recently launched new reach and targeting (read: identity resolution) solutions for their platforms, ensuring the best ability to reach a brand's audience across their CTV inventory. 

But what's interesting about this is that this isn't new: The digital media ecosystem has been doing this for years. Now, the CTV market is maturing to match it, using a lot of the same ideas to fuel how they're reaching and targeting consumers. 

With that, how are brand advertisers supposed to navigate this new world of "identity" in CTV? Here, we'll walk through everything a TV buyer needs to know about "identity resolution" so they can build their best CTV plan. 

Solving the CTV identity crisis

Identity resolution has become an essential part of the digital media ecosystem. The process of identity resolution has allowed brands to make connections across siloed data. For example, it enables brands to understand that two seemingly unrelated pieces of data actually represent the same consumer just on different email addresses.

In making these connections across siloed data, brands can augment the view of their consumers with their own first-party data, leading to new insights and high-performance custom audiences among a slew of other benefits.

TV content consumption has become even more fragmented, and audience fragmentation is among the top concerns for TV execs. As consumption fragments across screens and platforms, the need to figure out a way to define and unify measurable units—households, individuals and devices—has become critical for advertisers and publishers.

As Edina Kalamperovic, Vice President of Partner Strategy and Planning at Publicis, points out, "The evolution of CTV makes options abundant yet also more fragmented, which can put a strain on the best way to plan and buy that maximizes a marketer’s true reach against the right people, dollars invested and tangible measurable outcomes." Identity plays a crucial factor, and deduplicating audiences in order to control frequency and reach to get the most out of advertising dollars and enhance the end user’s experience is a key obstacle to unification.

Thus far, the CTV ecosystem has pieced together solutions with varying identity providers, which can be challenging due to the fact that there is not always transparency with the data they provide. Hoping to ameliorate this fragmentation, networks are aiming to reach their audiences across their CTV inventory and are creating their own identity resolution solutions.

A key piece in solving the CTV identity crisis is first-party data. To create unified views of individual TV consumption across devices and channels, publishers need first-party data. Acknowledging this, networks like NBCU—whose portfolio includes CNBC, NBC Sports and USA Network— recently announced a partnership with Dentsu for their new consumer-identity matching platforms coined NBCUnified Audiences and NBCUnified Consumer Match. The first-party identity platform includes 150 million individual consumers and 50 million households to bolster cross-platform targeting.

FoxCorp has also jumped on the first-party platform train. They announced Atlas, a video intelligence technology that can identify, segment and suggest contextual advertising opportunities for digital video marketers. As cookie-based media buying continues to be phased out by digital media platforms with the decline of third-party cookies, contextual advertising continues to grow. 

"The fact that roughly 50% of the internet is already cookieless, the default solution shouldn’t just be contextual advertising," Kalamperovic says. "The focus should be about understanding, assessing and working with the best identity solution that will empower and future proof a marketers objectives and dollars."

Sustainable solutions

It's become critical for companies to have a stable and persistent view of the household/individual (HH/IND) rather than unstable IP addresses or looking at investment by service.

"If the average HH uses 4.7 streaming services, looking at investment by service doesn’t capture or reflect the user experience because it is the same person and/or HH," Kalamperovic points out. "So having a view of one profile that can connect a user to their many end points is what should be the continued effort and focus."  

Buyers and marketers should lean into this and push for the best possible set-up that gives them this view and ability to execute. While people are more connected than ever digitally, fragmentation has increased. Brands should be looking to sustainable solutions that can evolve in the face of change versus short-term bandages, an ethos that Epsilon champions with CORE ID