There has been a lot of conversation and news about the shift towards people-based advertising, including the news of the comScore coming together, a recent announcement by a consortium of technology partners (beginning to show signs of trouble) and the AdExchanger interview on fighting the duopoly.
As we read the rapid-fire industry news, we need to move past the idea of "combatting the duopoly" and into how to build a solution. Let’s consider what the duopoly has done well—and how we can apply that to a mutually beneficial and marketplace solution that works at scale.
Publisher data is key to the solution. The challenge remains in unifying it.
The duopoly is able to offer an addressable media solution to support people-based advertising by using the vast amounts of logged-in user ID data available at their fingertips. Most media companies also have access to their own logged-in user data, only at a different scale and lacking a common way to share the IDs or aggregate their IDs with other publishers.
Without a universal ID, any new solution will fail. The reason why is simple: Each company, and sometimes even each individual website, operates in a different ID space. One universal ID would offer a scalable solution, without requiring the media owners to make changes.
Media companies can capitalize on the data they have by working with a solution that allows them to identify the users they know and can address with a universal ID—similarly to how the "walled gardens" have successfully done. The publisher controls the user experience and can enrich any impression with logged-in user data. Technology can unify the data in a way that becomes usable—and much more valuable—for advertisers through a universal ID.
Alone and without a universal ID, publishers will struggle to effectively build an addressable solution with sufficient scale to compete. Conversely, tech companies and platforms will struggle to effectively build and scale an addressable solution without the enrichment that publisher data can bring to the table in real time.
Advertiser data is the Rosetta Stone that will unlock addressable.
Connecting advertiser CRM data to publishers’ data signals will be key. Each advertiser syncs their data into their CRM(s) of choice. Often times a single holding company of multiple national brands will support multiple CRMs based on brand-by-brand decisions. Working with multiple CRMs is immaterial within the "walled garden" where advertisers are able to sync their CRM data of choice into the ID space, offering an addressable solution.
Applying this paradigm and creating a universal ID across CRM companies can solve for current constraints with addressable across comScore.
An intermediate technology needs to be able to understand the publisher data and be able to consume any CRMs data in order to match it to the sets of different publisher data that exists—then view this in aggregate and provide a scalable solution back to the all parties.
High fidelity, it’s not just a great movie.
The addressability solutions that are being proposed by some major technology consortiums ultimately rely on two key types of data: cookies and device ids. While they are a great mechanism for targeting, they each have challenges and are simply a lower fidelity than knowing the human being is logged in to a specific session.
Additionally, cookies have issues cross channel as they don’t work on most mobile websites and cannot map themselves over to a mobile app. Device targeting also has its limitations. The solutions that have been presented thus far focus primarily on the cookie and the device being the key mechanisms for targeting—not the logged-in user session.
A successful solution will be whoever can match the quality and fidelity standard that is present within the "walled gardens"—using logged in user data. Targeting based on real people is something the ad tech, agency and publishing worlds have been building towards. Without publisher session data against a universal ID, the industry will be challenged to achieve the same fidelity "the duopoly" is achieving today.
We as a business support any group that is attempting to evolve or advance the agenda of addressability within comScore publishing. Many consortiums are designed to reduce pixels on the page and create better match rates, not compete with the larger problems in play. We caution and ask everyone who is looking to support these initiatives to go beyond the headlines and begin to understand the essential elements that will be required to make this a success. It is only together that direct publishers through supply and data integration and advertisers through their CRM companies can work with intermediate technology to solve this problem sustainable and scalably.
Michael Connolly is CEO of Sonobi.