LOS ANGELES — Whilst smart TVs these days are beginning to report viewing behavior to ad platforms, a more recent trend has seen the platform owners hold onto it as a differentiating asset.

That worries many in the industry that are excited by the smart TV targeting opportunity but who want to be able to buy across a swathe of platforms.

In this video interview with Denise Colella for Beet.TV’s Beet Retreat Santa Monica, Steve Sottile, chief revenue officer, Unruly, explains why holding on to automated content recognition (ACR) data is important.

Frustrated advertisers

“There’s a frustration around the ability for advertisers to run a uniform data strategy at scale and to apply measurement to that at scale, including simple efforts around frequency capping,” Sottile says.

“When the data is confined within a walled garden, that means you have to work with three or four different partners and piece that all together to tell your story.

“When you have ACR data outside of the walled gardens across the open web at scale, it enables you to do that with via one partner in a simplified way and makes targeting and measurement that much more effective.”

ACR back in the box?

For a while, it looked like automated content recognition (ACR), which identifies what is on a viewing screen and turns it into available data, would piece things together.

But, as the electronics manufacturers have realized the value of that data, more of them have begun holding on to it.

Now some are complaining of the emergence of a new “walled garden” – television.

Unruly’s connections

Unruly is a supply-side advertising platform (SSP) acquired by Tremor International from News Corp in 2020.

Since then, the pair have benefitted from further M&A and integration.

In October, Tremor signed a deal to exclusively leverage ACR data from VIDAA, TV operating system running on most Hisense TVs and some others including Toshiba’s, totalling 20 million smart TVs.

That means ad buyers can utilize the data through Unruly’s SSP whilst publishers can offer it through their use of the Tremor Video DSP (demand-side platform).

In October, Tremor also acquired Spearad, a CTV video ad server for broadcasters, intending to integrate it with Unruly’s SSP.

Identifying ACR viewers across the graph

But Sottile says ad buyers are clearly frustrated that ACR data capabilities are increasingly being offered on an OEM-by-OEM basis.

“ACR data sits within both linear and nonlinear products, identifying the content that our consumers are consuming,” he says.

“With that information, we’re able to apply that to targeting across all platforms as it’s mapped to universal IDs.”

Such companies could help make the market more efficient for buyers, by aggregating access to a range of distinct TV platforms – as long as the manufacturers open up the garden.

You are watching coverage from Beet Retreat Santa Monica 2021, presented by FreeWheel, IRIS.TV, Samba TV, TransUnion & Warner Music Group. For more videos, please visit this page.