If you were to chart their rise, graphs are having a moment. Over the last few years, we have heard of “the social graph” and of “identity graphs”.

Now there is another piece of infrastructure that has entered the ad industry lexicon – the “device graph”.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Scott Schiller, chief commercial officer of ENGINE, a media and marketing services company, explains how a device graph works to generate advertiser results – and how to improve upon it.

Mapping identity

“I think of it like a map,” Schiller says. “You’re going on a journey and a device graph allows you to understand where you’re going and where you’re going to pass through and what you’re going to have.

“And so it allows us to bring targeting and measurement uniquely to an advertiser in a post-cookie world.”

A device graph is a key piece in the emerging practice of online identity management that attempts to generate a profile of an individual by recognizing the devices they use.

If executed well, it could help eliminate ad duplication and could promote understanding of individuals as single wholes, rather than distinct islands of behavior that depend upon their specific device context.

Plus points

In February, ENGINE announced Device Graph+, combining proprietary data from its own ENGINE Media Exchange (EMX) and ENGINE Insights services with multiple data partners across automatic content recognition (ACR), cross-device data, location-based attribution partners and identity resolution providers.

It is one of the ways in which ad-buyers, who are losing the ability to target ads using cookies, can continue to reach consumers, perhaps even in a far more effective way than before.

ENGINE’s Device Graph+ enables access to buying connected TV (CTV) ad inventory using its data.

CTV + linear

Despite the ability to buy with data and automatically, Schiller doesn’t think the upfronts season – during which US TV programmers aim to secure advanced ad spend commitments from ad buyers – will disappear.

“The upfront is going to be quite successful,” he says. “The upfront as a concept is a futures market, so it’s not going anywhere. What will change is the ancillary discussions around that.

“What the media business is all about is the overlay of CTV on top of linear TV, on top of what you’re doing.

“It’s very similar to what happened in the nineties with cable TV and what happened with mobile about seven years ago. You start to see 5% of the media spent on these new technologies, but the usage force at 25, 30, 40%. And, over time, that collapses as the industry begins to acclimate to that.”

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