Tru Optik launches OTT Data Cloud to bring segment targeting to connected TV

The company says this is the first time marketers can use web-like audience targeting for ad-supported TV seen via Roku, Apple TV or game consoles.

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Graphic by Tru Optik

Graphic by Tru Optik

When you watch a TV program directly on the internet — either on a computer or a mobile device — you can be targeted for ads just as you are on any website.

The advertiser can employ a cookie or a mobile device ID to track you, and the ad can be targeted to your specific audience segment.

But when you are watching an ad-supported TV program on an Over-The-Top (OTT) TV device like Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire or a game console, Tru Optik CEO Andre Swanston told me, the ads are targeted at you using only a few factors.

It uses either your general ZIP code location (determined by the IP address of your OTT TV device’s connection), the program content (such as placing the ad in a TV program oriented toward women) or time of day.

In other words, OTT ad targeting has been very similar to traditional TV ad targeting, which, by Net standards, is very broad-brush.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Tru Optik wants to change that, with its launch this week of what it says is the first OTT Data Cloud.

The Data Cloud, guided by Tru Optik’s Data Management Platform (DMP), is designed so that marketers can target ads based on households’ behavioral, demographic and purchase data.

Previously, Swanston said, marketers might have placed a BMW video ad in an ad-supported TV program available through Roku to all households in upscale ZIP codes, or the ad might have been targeted at those households by including it in a program targeted at upscale audiences.

‘Same data sources’

Now, a marketer can target a BMW video ad to all households in the US that have a BMW, and whose residents are frequent flyers.

“The core importance of this announcement,” Swanston emailed me, “is that it is the first time agencies and publishers can leverage the same data sources that they depend on across desktop and mobile for audience segmentation across any CTV [Connected TV] campaign. Adobe, Nielsen, Comscore, Krux, Lotame and Oracle cannot make that claim today.”

The new OTT Data Cloud combines data from Cross Pixel, Experian Marketing Services, Media Source Solutions, TargetSmart, and V12 Group.

He added that the Cloud allows a brand or agency to “layer on household income data from Experian, with in-market for Audi/Mercedes data from V12, with presence of child data from Cross Pixel and advertise a luxury SUV to households in any market across any CTV channel/app.”

“Then they can have that custom segment amplified to create look-alikes or reach those same households that saw the TV ad with marketing on desktop and mobile.” Here’s a screen employing the OTT Data Cloud:

Tru Optik screen

In March, Tru Optik announced a partnership with marketing data provider Experian Marketing Services to share OTT TV viewer measurement data. This matched Tru Optik’s database of OTT viewing, which it says is the world’s largest, with Experian’s ConsumerView, which that company describes as “the world’s largest and most accurate consumer marketing database.” The combination created a more complete picture of who watches what on OTT TV, in terms of lifestyle, demographics and purchase behavior.

The different kinds of data in the new OTT Data Cloud — including website visits, offline shopping in physical stores, demographic and purchase history for specific household addresses, and so on — are tied together into anonymized household profiles through a variety of means, including the same IP addresses, emails, physical locations, cookies, mobile device IDs and so on.

Of course, a number of data suppliers also create cross-device matches and tie them to physical addresses, purchase behaviors, demographics and other profiles to develop household profiles about the devices and people living there.

‘Beat them to the punch’

But the OTT Data Cloud has two main differences, Swanston told me. First, instead of being primarily interested in computers and mobile devices as the others are, Tru Optik is primarily interested in the connected TV, which is showing Net-delivered TV programs.

Second, while cookies and mobile device IDs are used in part to create Tru Optik’s cross-device household profiles, they are not used for targeting. Instead, the household is targeted by its physical address and IP address. The largest data management providers, like Oracle’s Data Cloud or Lotame, he said, are reliant on cookies and device IDs, but they “don’t mean anything for Roku, Apple TV or game consoles.”

While OTT TV used to be watched primarily on computers and mobile devices, Swanston said that most Net-delivered TV is now watched on connected TVs, which have no ad blockers, no viewability issues and a broader reach, since between 2.3 and 2.6 people watch each program on TV, compared to one person for each OTT program watched on a computer/mobile device.

I’m accustomed to watching ad-free Netflix or Amazon shows on our Roku-attached TV, but Swanston says that about a third of OTT TV is now ad-supported, like Sony’s Crackle service, Tubi TV, or online TV from publishers like Condé Nast.

Tru Optik said its new Cloud covers more than 90 percent of connected TV households in the US with 97 percent accuracy. The US will be the primary focus through the rest of this year. The Cloud is designed to integrate with existing data management stacks, he said, so that it can become the OTT source.

While other data providers have been talking about doing this, Swanston said they aren’t yet.

“There is no realistic competition” right now, he told me. “We beat them to the punch.”

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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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