By Jason Bier – General Counsel & Chief Privacy Officer, Adstra
February 8, 2023: Streaming Media
CTV Represents the Best Opportunity to Get Privacy Right
This year marks a pivotal moment in the relationship between advertising and consumer privacy. Several state-wide laws were enacted on January 1, but enforcement for those rules doesn’t begin until July.
The delayed enforcement creates a cascade of events that will shape the new year. First and foremost, it will likely push congress to pass federal legislation that supersedes this patchwork of state laws. Second, it requires that advertisers get serious about addressing ongoing privacy concerns and learning from the errors of the past.
Nowhere is this more important than the burgeoning CTV market. CTV is expected to be the data-driven engine driving the advertising economy in 2023, making it the perfect playground to test new ideas around privacy.
The CTV rocketship
A November 2022 buyer survey from the IAB forecast CTV growth to outpace the overall ad industry this year. Buyers will invest 14% more on CTV this year, while spending roughly 6% more across all marketing channels.
The timing of this meteoric growth couldn’t be more auspicious, aligning so well with the new slate of privacy laws. Advertisers are leaning heavily into CTV because eyeballs are moving from linear toward this new digital TV channel. It combines the power of the TV-viewing experience with digital ad delivery and targeting, as well as the audience and identity capabilities that have revolutionized how advertisers maximize efficiency and measure their campaigns.
As big-name content providers like Netflix and Disney open up more CTV inventory, it’s critical that the entire industry builds a model that incorporates privacy protections, before CTV can get hamstrung by unclear laws or regulations. That’s the only thing that can stop this growth.
The privacy landscape
It looked like 2022 might be the pivotal year where the U.S. finally adopted national privacy legislation. Still, that momentum was snuffed when it became clear that Californian representatives didn’t want to pass any law that was less stringent than CCPA.
Fortunately, there is still a framework in place, and organizations like Privacy for America are working to develop a regulation that creates options for publishers, advertisers, and consumers. The law would dictate data collection practices and clearly allow the industry to transact clearly labeled complaint-data. In a rare moment of bipartisanship, Congress will surely see the writing on the wall and adopt a federal framework in the early summer before enforcement of statewide laws kicks in.
Making CTV different
The reason privacy laws are even necessary for the ad industry is because so much of the technology, privacy policies, and regulations were developed ad hoc over the years for an industry that grew faster and larger than expected. Decisions made in the development of digital display advertising, targeting, and programmatic buying haven’t aged well. The ad industry recognizes this and has taken steps to rectify where it went wrong in the past.
Conversely, CTV represents a clean slate to get things right from the very start. To do that, we need to recognize the missteps along the way. CTV targeting and identity resolution needs to be clearly opt-in, for consumers to understand to feel they control their data. The industry also needs to focus on educational efforts right now so that consumers understand that TVs are not spying but are simply assessing viewership at a household level. This information is used to understand how popular certain programs are, as well as to assess opportunities for non-intrusive, contextually relevant advertising.
The result shouldn’t be a feeling that TV is watching consumers at every second but that the flow of data creates a better viewing experience. Consumers are often willing to trade ads for reduced subscription prices. If those ads look and feel like they fit into the programming, it only increases consumer openness. If the ad industry can correct this from the inception, it will change the future of media, television, and content creation.