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Channel Factory & Comscore bring contextual targeting to YouTube ahead of cookiepocalypse


By Kendra Barnett | Senior Reporter

January 11, 2022 | 6 min read

With cookies going kaputz, advertisers are seeking new means of effective ad targeting and measurement. Contextual approaches could be just what the doctor ordered – and that’s the thesis of a Channel Factory-Comscore deal announced today. The new partnership aims to give YouTube advertisers greater access to contextual signals that can help them reach specific streaming audience segments without cookies.

Target and arrow with YouTube logos surrounding

A new Comscore-Channel Factory partnership aims to help advertisers target YouTube audiences without cookies

As the industry prepares for the impending demise of the third-party cookie, publishers are increasingly focused on innovating their ad inventories and targeting capabilities to attract ad dollars.

In the latest development, brand suitability and contextual ad performance platform Channel Factory is partnering up with media measurement and analytics firm Comscore to provide advertisers with new contextual insights that allow them to target specific audiences without cookies. Here’s what you need to know about the new deal.

What happened

  • Today, Channel Factory – the contextual ad targeting and performance platform specializing in YouTube ads – said it will absorb Comscore Predictive Audiences, which includes categorization of over 700 unique audience segments. Comscore Predictive Audience tools will then be integrated with YouTube’s inventory, giving marketers a range of new contextual insights.

  • Through the new deal, brands can run ads on YouTube via partnership with Channel Factory, which includes “guaranteed outcomes” per a statement released today, or through self-service tools that enable them to target audience segments and place their ads according to these segments. In either case, advertisers are able to guarantee that they are targeting desirable audiences ahead of the actual bid.

  • With access to new contextual insights through the deal, advertisers can ensure that their ads are placed intelligently according to the content of the page (an indicator that can help advertisers better reach target audiences sans cookie). Per today’s announcement, the new agreement aims to help advertisers reach desired audiences based on data including age, gender, location, TV viewership habits, purchase history, certain compliant financial information and more.

  • The new integration centralizes contextual performance capabilities, third-party audiences and brand suitability tools (which ensures that a given brand’s ads are placed within contexts that are appropriate and well-suited to the brand) under one umbrella via Channel Factory.

  • “The ability to give brands more audience targeting solutions is a major milestone,” Channel Factory’s chief revenue officer Jeremy Haft tells The Drum. “It creates an opportunity to bring learnings at scale, of the entire digital and TV ecosystem, to inform what YouTube content advertisers want to advertise against v not. Age and [demographic data] only get you so far. For example, hockey fans are not only just males in their 30s – fans can range from all ages and genders, which is where advertisers are looking to improve their ROI for their audiences. If I’m looking to sell hockey gear, advertisers are understanding they can extend their brands’ potential reach by targeting hockey fans on a behavioral level to improve their ROI. This partnership will allow advertisers the ability to improve on-target/in-target for a campaign before bid or launch.”

Why it matters

  • The deal may prove especially appealing to brands looking to make the most of the streaming boom. Recent reports from Juniper Research indicate that by 2025, there will be some 2bn global active subscriptions to on-demand video services – up 65% from the end of 2020. And even among users who don’t subscribe to YouTube’s paid services YouTube Premium or YouTube TV, consumption of video on the platform continues to rise. For brands, the ongoing surge in video and premium video consumption represents valuable opportunities to reach target audiences in new ways.

  • Focusing on contextual targeting – using clues including a page’s content – is becoming an increasingly valuable approach in light of the imminent deprecation of third-party cookies. It’s likely that over the course of this year, contextual-first approaches will become ubiquitous.

  • Vinny Rinaldi, head of investment and activation at GroupM, said in a statement: “Comscore’s audience insights are of value to mass scale buyers, so the partnership struck between Channel Factory and Comscore helps advertisers use a massive privacy compliant and cookieless data set ... to tie back to target demos and as a currency, which is of tremendous value for all clients in today’s marketplace. Additionally, the ability to bring TV performance insights and YouTube performance together is crucial for brands as we go through a transformation today.”

  • As Rachel Gantz, general manager of activation solutions at Comscore, says: “Advertisers are seeking tools that empower them to reach advanced audience targets – particularly during this rapid evolution of the media landscape. In just a few short years, YouTube has become one of the most prominent sources of ad-supported content ... Together [with Channel Factory] we are elevating the targeting options advertisers have for their YouTube campaigns, allowing them to now apply Comscore Predictive Audiences to reach consumers based on life stage, media consumption habits, purchase behaviors and much more.”

  • It’s worth noting that Comscore is currently seeking accreditation by the Media Rating Council for both its national and local TV ratings in the wake of recent Nielsen drama that saw the industry heavyweight stripped of its accreditation for systematically underreporting viewership data.

  • YouTube representatives were unavailable for comments.

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