Data giant Acxiom expands its advanced TV offering; are marketers finally ready?

Acxiom, the data, analytics and SaaS giant, is expanding its advanced TV advertising capabilities – a move that will help all players wading in the addressable TV advertising waters.

Last year, Acxiom acquired Allant’s Audience Interconnect TV data platform and the company is combining this platform with its popular LiveRamp and Data Safe Haven products to drive advanced TV campaigns. Marketers will now be able to reach TV audiences based on first and third party data, along with TV partner viewership data.

Acxiom is entrenched in the online advertising buying process, and its entrance into the advanced TV space will almost certainly hasten the speed at which addressable TV is bought across connected TVs, over the top services, and even cable service providers.

For more on Audience Interconnect TV, the addressable space, and whether advertisers will still be able to reach audiences at scale, we spoke with Rick Erwin, President and General Manager, Audience Solutions, Acxiom.

Found Remote: We have been hearing about programmatic and addressable TV for a few years now; why has its advancement and adoption been slow so far?

Rick Erwin: Hype often precedes reality in ad tech, doesn’t it? That said, there are several dynamics limiting adoption. First, addressable enablement by TV distributors is taking longer than many expected. Second, available inventory is limited, especially for programmatic platforms that shine best when ad executions are granular, automated – and predictably clear.

One hurdle to adoption is the lack of data interoperability. Buyers want to execute at scale, not just run science experiments. I’m pleased that Acxiom is playing a key part in knocking down this hurdle. Our partners and clients look to us to help enable scaled execution, by facilitating data connections between players in the TV ecosystem who want to work together. TV distributors, agencies, data partners, advertisers and ad tech innovators all benefit from simple, fast and privacy-safe data connectivity. Today we offer apples-to-apples audience data connectivity across more than 40M TV households, and we’re pleased to have supported hundreds of addressable TV campaigns over the last 12 months.

FR: With all of the DSPs, SSPs, and MVPDs getting into advanced TV advertising, what separates Acxiom's offering?

Erwin: Acxiom’s Audience Interconnect and LiveRamp Customer Link onboard the same apples-to-apples audience segments for use in all premium video platforms. This includes addressable TV, spot TV, national TV, VOD and online video. We don’t believe any other company in the ecosystem offers this capability. The Audience Interconnect™ is specifically designed to allow our TV partners to easily research and plan cross-platform campaigns using precise audience data of their choosing. Acxiom provides partners with a variety of choices and a streamlined approach to segmentation and data onboarding.

FR: Can advertisers really reach TV audiences at scale by just using first party data?

Erwin: Our partners have used both first-party and third-party data to precisely reach customers with relevant messages across TV platforms. Certainly, there are many examples of advertisers with large customer bases using that data alone for scaled execution. Financial services firms, retailers, telecom companies and travel are all examples of categories where advertisers may work against their “house file” of tens of millions of customers for cross sell, upsell, or retention campaigns. Of course, third-party data is essential for prospecting campaigns, and can help to fill in any holes to help marketers, not only better reach their target audience, but ensure that their campaign is seen across that audience multiple times. We have a broad network of data partners who bring uniquely valuable third party data to the table.

FR: What are the most common questions you receive from advertisers still skeptical of jumping into advanced TV buys?

Erwin: The list of advertiser FAQs about advanced TV is long these days! First, I would note that our agency partners do a lot of advertiser education, and a number of them have clearly differentiated themselves around their advanced TV advertising expertise. Many questions we receive at Acxiom relate to the mechanics of data processing and integration, audience segmentation, campaign execution, and measurement. Also, there is often confusion about what use cases are possible, with which partners, and at what scale. For instance, many advertisers aren’t aware that audience data can be used to better inform the execution and measurement of national ad inventory, spot cable, VOD, and premium online video – not just addressable. The confusion is understandable, as the market is still very much in an “art of the possible” phase.

FR: What platform would you say is best suited to serve advanced TV advertising yet is currently under-bought?

Erwin: I think it would be misleading to single out an individual ad platform or category of inventory. What is under-utilized is cross-platform audience based buying. In other words, defining an ad campaign’s desired audience using precise segments – then using those segments to plan and buy across many types of premium video inventory:

addressable, national cable, spot cable, broadcast, VOD, OTT, and the many flavors of online and mobile. Some advertisers and agencies are creating real, competitive advantage by embracing this approach, especially when it is carried through to back end campaign measurement and performance reporting.

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