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Winterberry Report Exec Summary: Outlook for Identity in Advanced Television: Challenges & Opportunities

  • Meira Robertson
  • 4 min read

It’s official—TV is now the most advanced way to target and measure media investments for broad awareness. 

With the technology and flexibility to consume content whenever and wherever, the TV ecosystem is the new frontier for marketers. Audiences are no longer confined to sitting down in front of the television for their entertainment, and the same goes for marketers. To meet relevant audiences now, brand marketers and media buyers are realizing the importance of identity and are increasingly turning to (and spending money on) advanced TV (ATV) channels. This evolution of the ecosystem brings marketers the ability to target growing segments and provides enhanced solutions for measurement and optimization. 

In fact, according to Winterberry Group’s report, Outlook for Identity in Advanced Television: Challenges & Opportunities, the industry focus is heightened by the opportunity to capture both new and shifting expenditure over the next five years, as 2021 U.S. spending of $17.3 billion on addressable linear and CTV advertising is expected to grow to $47.8 billion in 2026, with a similar expansion in the UK from $6.2 billion to $10.1 billion during the same period.

Winterberry predicts that in this new, audience-first industry model, identity will play a critical role in ATV use cases to plan, target, activate, and measure campaign performance—mostly due to identity’s ability to successfully capture more screens and devices in the household for a more holistic view of placements and investments. In turn, identity’s role will start with surfacing deeper insights about hard-to-find TV audiences, determining which segments to activate across viewing screens, managing frequency as much as possible, and measuring the impact of campaigns with the measurement solution of choice. 

From there, Winterberry Group concludes that use cases will advance to the following:

  • Media planning: Identity will enable reliable and accurate audience-first targeting on the numerous ATV platforms and delivery choices available to buyers. More than half of survey respondents reported frequently using identity-based audiences in their linear TV media plans. The percentage is even higher in the UK, where the media ecosystem has adapted more quickly to GDPR restrictions to create addressable linear TV advertising products.
  • Audience activation: Pseudonymized data linked to a unified ID can move easily through the ATV ecosystem. The majority of currently available ATV advertising inventory is directly sold, meaning the use case will focus on an identity solution’s ability to create more accurate audience matching and will identify overlapping profiles across media platforms or channels.
  • Measurement and attribution: Identity is the convergence point where the buyer’s need for transparent and better metrics and the seller’s need to prove audience quality will meet. It will become the core component in facilitating the measurement of ATV campaign performance and making decisions regarding media buying strategies.

But there are significant hurdles to overcome before these use cases can occur. Winterberry Group has identified four primary challenges to the implementation of accurate, audience-based activation and measurement:

  1. A disconnect between linear TV media planners and digital buyers within the same brands and their agencies. 
  2. The five paths to buying media on TV sets within consumer households each has a seller with a different view of who the audience is.
  3. The absence of a unified or standardized interoperable identity solution.
  4. Gaps in cross-channel measurement. 

In addition, data privacy regulations and restricted access to identifiers will affect the rollout of identity in ATV use cases. As regulations at the state, national, and international levels continue to evolve, intermediaries, brands, media owners, and agencies will be forced to build and adopt flexible identity strategies that enable compliance and privacy-first data governance.

The sheer size of the ATV market opportunity will force the ecosystem of ATV buyers, sellers, and intermediaries to collaborate on solutions that make identity work and improve the efficacy and profitability of their audience-first media strategies. This collaboration will be demonstrated by the following:

  • Interoperability between identity solutions via crosswalks and clean rooms, as no single identity solution should or will meet demand across the many use cases. 
  • Restoration of balance between buyers and sellers. Limited inventory for ATV ad placement and a long-term trend that caps total viewing hours will ensure that the market remains primarily directly sold, complemented by private marketplaces, and with a significantly smaller share than today’s programmatic ecosystem going to open auction. 
  • Data collaboration solutions that are foundational to the technology stack. Similar to how CDPs have evolved to complement CRMs and serve specific purposes within the enterprise, data collaboration solutions will emerge with an embedded identity solution to solve for the differentiation of data ingested and the analytics and activation tools used. 
  • Linkages between households and individuals through IP addresses. The availability of identifiers such as IP address, device IDs, and app log-ins is not guaranteed and, in many cases, will be limited by regulatory constraint, authentication-sharing by users, lack of adequately captured user consent, and issues around data control and ownership. 

Based on these assumptions, Winterberry Group expects identity solutions spending to continue to move toward high-engagement ATV channels, with investments increasing as both digital and linear buyers drive toward more effective, measurable outcomes. Winterberry forecasts that identity solutions spending in the U.S. will grow from $2.3 billion in 2021 to $5.5 billion in 2026, and an estimated $660 million to $1.2 billion respectively in the UK. Within identity, the quest for an interoperable and privacy-compliant ecosystem (enabled by technology) will enable a better viewing experience and consumer engagement as the industry matures.

Download the full report with insights from nearly 150 senior industry experts from both the U.S. and Europe in the fields of data, technology, identity, and measurement to learn which targeted activation paths are being used to reach TV viewers today, why interoperability and collaboration are the two concepts that will drive the ATV industry forward, and ultimately how you and your teams can prepare for the market’s evolution over the next 24-36 months.