CTV: The "walled" livingroom

I’ve been writing and speaking about the upcoming cookie apocalypse for well over a year. In the meantime, walled gardens have been popping up everywhere marketers turn.

Ok, maybe they haven’t exactly been “popping up.” Most of the companies that might seem like new walled gardens have been around for a while. Our definition of walled gardens has expanded.

Every type of publisher with a logged-in, authenticated user base has been expanding its position and stocking up on champagne for an epic celebration. When the music stops, the only publishers with a chair will be these content owners.

Yes, contextual advertising will still be a thing. Yes, it will probably see a short-term spike in popularity. However, our collective addiction to 1:1 targeting and closed-loop measurement will always drive a demand (and premium) for people-based targeting.

Hello, Television.

Look at that big, beautiful piece of glass hanging on your living room wall. Chances are, it is the “identity anchor” of your home. It is the shining beacon of first-party television addressability into your eyeballs.

Why? Because you logged in.

Your average civilian never notices the amount of data gold they are providing the television ecosystem. However, ad tech maniacs like me sit back and watch in awe.

Think about the layers of authentication and device graphing that are enabled by a few simple actions.

  1. Streaming device login. The first authentication gate all viewers pass through begins with the streaming device of your choice. This could be an external device like a Roku, Amazon Firestick, or AppleTV. It could also be the television itself if the viewer chooses to use the onboard platform. In all cases, you’re going to need to create a profile and sign in.

  2. TV app login. Now that you’re “inside,” it is time to start watching! On most devices, you have a default choice of streaming providers like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc. You can also add your own just like adding an app from an app store. Then…it is time to authenticate again. Virtually all of the apps will require you to sign in to enjoy the experience.

  3. Mobile login. And don’t forget to take the show on the road! Every provider above will also offer you the ability to watch the programming on all of your personal devices like phones and tablets. And guess what? You’re installing an app and signing in there too.

In just three moves, the viewer has authenticated their household television, the programming providers they intend to watch, and the personal devices they own. At each stop along the way, the viewer has blindly accepted all terms and conditions without question.

At this point, the virtual queue of advertisers is forming on the sidewalk outside the viewer’s home just waiting to pitch their wares.

Hello, Advertisers.

Television marketers. Digital marketers. The lines are officially gone. In this new fully addressable TV marketplace, the legacy silos do not need to exist.

But when it comes to targeting and addressability in the new marketplace, there will be “haves” and “have nots.” Lots and lots of have nots.

The Haves

If your brand has a wealth of first-party data from your existing customers, welcome to the elite class of addressable marketers! Assuming you have the right to use your customer data for marketing purposes, you’ll be able to seamlessly match your customer lists with the authenticated audiences inside of the new television walled gardens.

From there, your selected content providers can offer audience expansion opportunities to reach new households that look and feel like your existing customers. In many cases, they’ll even be able to report back on the households within your list that were actually reached.

By no means will any of this be a trivial amount of work, but you’ll be miles ahead of the data “have nots.”

The Have Nots

So you did not prioritize building first-party relationships with your customers in 2020, 2021, or 2022?

Yikes.

Well, no better time to start than now, I guess. In the meantime, not all hope is lost. You can still play in the addressable TV game. The main challenge is you will be 100% reliant upon the media suppliers and outside vendors to assist with targeting and measurement.

Content owners can still offer up segmented targeting based on your defined criteria, but it will probably come at a price premium. Plus, you won’t really know if your campaigns are hitting your exact target. It will probably work ok…just not great.

You’ll also need to prepare to compete heavily with the other have nots. There’s going to be way more of you than the elite class, at least in the early days. Be prepared for supply volatility.

Maybe you didn’t subscribe to Adlingo, so you had no idea this was coming. Maybe you didn’t read any of the trade publications either. Doesn’t matter. Glad you’re here now. Let’s get to work!


🙋 It is a hiring bonanza out there, folks. Never been a better time to write your own ticket. Plus, companies like Vayner could care less if you have a college degree.

🧑‍⚖ The antitrust case against Google has been unsealed. It is a doozy.

🏆 /u/reddit is the #winner of the Hottest Platform according to /u/adweek.

✈ Europe is the digital nomad destination of choice for the “work from anywhere” crowd.

🤳 Execs from TikTok and Snapchat will be testifying on the Hill today.

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