OTT television joins the world of user profiles in Tru Optik/Experian partnership

Tru Optik’s tracking of OTT viewing meets Experian’s massive user profiles, providing validation to multi-screen advertisers about who their audiences really are.

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It’s ironic that television, the original mass marketing channel, is the last to become a full-fledged citizen of the consumer profile ecosystem spawned by the Net. But, step by step, it is.

The most recent example is the announcement this week that over-the-top (OTT) TV measurement firm Tru Optik and marketing data provider Experian Marketing Services are partnering to share their measurement data. Tru Optik claims the world’s largest database of OTT viewing, and Experian says its ConsumerView is the “world’s largest and most accurate consumer marketing database.”

The result, for the customers of both platforms, will be a more complete picture of who watches what in your house. Tru Optik clients can better relate ad or content viewing on OTT programs with lifestyle, demographics and purchase behavior. And Experian’s clients will be able to add in OTT viewing behavior to user profiles.

This is the first time that Experian has extended its measurement expertise into OTT, Experian Product Lead for Addressable Advertising Brienna Pinnow told me. Tru Optik CEO Andre Swanston added that this partnership is “the first-time actionable demographics [have been available] across multiple devices” for his company, beyond OTT-connected TVs and desktop.

Over-the-top television refers to TV programming delivered via wired or wireless online connections, instead of satellite, broadcast or cable.

This new collaboration is only the latest in the series of announcements bringing TV viewership in its many flavors into the marketers’ set of online data and tools.

Recently, for instance, data management platform (DMP) Lotame announced its Smart TV Audiences, which adds TV program-viewing data from a partnering maker of smart TVs to its platform of consumer intent and behavioral data.

And last week, Adobe announced a new version of its Primetime video-focused tool that more completely integrates into the company’s large Marketing Cloud.

What and who

For Lotame, everything watched on the TV set made by its partnering manufacturer is communicated, whether it’s on broadcast networks, DVR, cable networks or OTT networks that live online and can be seen on TVs, like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon.

For Adobe, the Primetime tool is primarily focused at the OTT market, which some believe is rapidly overtaking the cable industry. Those online networks can be seen on TVs that have online connections or via a set-top box like Apple TV, Roku or a video game console. But they can also be seen on smartphones, tablets or computers.

In the case of the new Tru Optik/Experian announcement, however, the focus is on marrying OTT program-watching data — whether you watch on a TV or a tablet — with Experian’s massive set of user profiles. Cable and broadcast TV are not part of this mix, at least for now. Because OTT does not track behavior through, say, cookies or mobile device IDs, OTT providers have tended to act more like walled gardens.

The OTT data from Tru Optik, which anonymously tracks what you are watching on Netflix or other services, is matched with Experian’s profiles and your various devices in one of several ways.

A key one is your email address, which can be part of a profile on Hulu or another OTT provider, and is part of Experian’s profile. Or the match between your different devices and your profile could be made through cable company relationships, such as the ones Tru Optik maintains, that anonymously link TV habits with your devices and their behavior, through the internet connection your cable company provides.

“Tru Optik is revealing what people are doing” when they watch OTT TV, Experian’s Pinnow told me, and Experian is showing who they are.

Marketers using the combined platforms, Tru Optik’s Swanston said, can now get a picture of “overall media consumption behavior,” like learning that people who play first-person video games also watch action movies. This kind of correlation can also be used to lookalike match with other profiles that contain some or all of the same attributes, and thus build a wider understanding of preference patterns.

Here are screenshots of Tru Optik, containing Experian data:

Over the top TV screens

These connections mean that an advertiser of a luxury car on a free TV show on Hulu can now determine whether you, a viewer of that show, have an income high enough to justify the ad spend. Anonymously, of course. It’s as if the blank space about who the Hulu viewers are, and the blank space about what the people profiled in the Experian database watch on OTT TV, are now both filled in.

It is “better intelligence for the ad buyers,” Pinnow said. “And doing that at the household level,” with an understanding of what devices belong to that person or group.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, Swanston noted:

“Tru Optik’s technology and first-party data combined with Experian’s data will enable media companies and advertisers to understand and value audiences for OTT content. In other words, it will provide the currency that is necessary to truly open not only the OTT ad market, but also provide better insight as to the value of product placement and licensing of content to subscription video services like Netflix and Amazon.”

Now, there can be cross-device campaign analysis, which can also be used to attribute sales across devices to the responsible ad. Previously, there has been no way to connect ad spending on OTT programs with purchases, many of which were conducted online.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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