Walmart’s Vizio Acquisition and Navigating the ACR Data Evolution

In a landmark move, Walmart recently unveiled its agreement to acquire Vizio Holding Corp, the smart TV and software manufacturer, for $2.3 billion. This pivotal step aims to bolster the growth of Walmart Connect through Vizio’s SmartCast Operating System, signaling Walmart’s intent to deepen its engagement within the digital advertising and advanced TV ecosystem. Leveraging Vizio’s extensive reach, advanced capabilities, and valuable data Walmart will significantly enhance its advertising platform.

What Vizio’s Acquisition Means For the Advertising Landscape

This move highlights the growing importance of advanced TV platforms in the digital advertising ecosystem. As Walmart integrates Vizio’s capabilities with Walmart Connect, we can anticipate enhanced advertising solutions that leverage advanced TV’s direct engagement with consumers. This integration promises to deliver more personalized and effective advertising experiences, benefiting advertisers and consumers alike.  

However, it also prompts a larger discussion about the historical and widespread use of Vizio’s valuable Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) data. ACR technology, which allows smart TVs to identify and analyze content viewers are watching, has become a cornerstone technology for targeted advertising and content recommendations. Vizio, via its Inscape entity, has played a central role in the ACR data ecosystem as one of the primary providers of this crucial technology (alongside Samba and others).

The ubiquity of this ACR data in the market is noteworthy; virtually every Demand-Side Platform (DSP) has easy access to its data and inventory. This accessibility enables advertisers to fine-tune their campaigns with precision, reaching the right audience at the right time. However, Walmart’s recent acquisition of Vizio may prompt changes to the accessibility of ACR data for the broader digital advertising industry. 

There is a conceivable scenario where Walmart could restrict access to Vizio’s ACR data, opting to bring the valuable asset in-house. Such a move would not only reshape the competitive landscape of ACR data providers but would also pose challenges for advertisers who have relied on this data for targeted advertising—all ahead of third-party cookie deprecation, no less. 

Furthermore, Vizio’s scale has helped power existing measurement solutions in market. These entities rely on ACR data to provide advertisers with insights into the effectiveness of their campaigns, and any restriction on access could necessitate a reevaluation of their methodologies.

For digital advertisers, the evolving dynamics underscore the need for agility and adaptability. The potential exclusivity of Vizio’s ACR data under Walmart could prompt a shift in strategy, with a heightened emphasis on partnerships with other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Advertisers must stay ahead of these changes, exploring diverse data sources ,technologies, and partners to maintain the effectiveness of their campaigns. 

Samsung: A Beacon in the Evolving ACR Landscape

While Walmart may call “lights out” on Vizio data for the rest of the industry, Samsung Ads shines brightly as a powerful alternative. As the largest TV manufacturer by market share, coupled with its ACR data, Samsung Ads stands out as a viable and potent source. Consider for instance that Samsung has more than 60 million opted-in smart TV viewers across 45 million households in the U.S.—this reach is a clear differentiator that keeps Samsung as a top provider for advanced tv and data solutions.

As walled gardens continue to grow and the industry shifts, it’s critical that advertisers work with partners that empower them with access to the inventory and data they need to reach audiences across all their favorite platforms and devices. As a Samsung partner, Digilant can continue to provide agencies access to premium ACR data and premium advanced TV inventory, enabling targeting and measurement, even in light of tremendous industry change.

Navigating the Future with Strategic Partnerships 

This acquisition marks a significant pivot in the digital advertising landscape. It solidifies the strategic positioning of advanced TV in advertising while also presenting potential ramifications for ACR data. For digital advertisers, this development demands a proactive approach, seeking innovative solutions and partnerships to navigate the shifting terrain. As the landscape evolves, the ability to adapt and leverage new opportunities will be paramount to sustained success.

Embracing Disruptive Tech: Insights for Marketers from CES

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) brings together professionals from various industries to gain insights into the rapidly evolving world of consumer electronics. As these technologies revolutionize consumer behavior, marketers and advertisers must adapt in step. During the conference, industry leaders shared their strategies for leveraging disruptive technologies to enhance customer journeys and create top-tier advertising experiences.

Wesley Farris, VP of Platform Partnerships at Digilant, attended the conference and recently sat down with us to provide his key takeaways from the event. Let’s dive in. 


The Demand for Supply-Side Transparency and Premium Curation

Throughout the conference, there was an emphasis on the growing need to refine the sell-side process of digital advertising. As key industry players prioritize ways to make media buying more direct, transparent, and higher quality, there’s a call to eliminate the number of parties involved in media buys. This is shaking out in a few different scenarios. 

First, to eliminate some of the hoops media buyers currently jump through, supply-side platforms (SSPs) are prioritizing the integration of buy-side technologies. 

For leading SSPs such as FreeWheel and Magnite, one of their focuses is on supply path optimization (SPO). SPO creates a more efficient process of media buying, reducing complicated paths to supply and providing advertisers with more transparency in their ad placements and overall spend. 

Additionally, many SSPs are actively seeking more ways to leverage top-tier data companies and first party publisher data (that the SSPs have access to) that enable enhanced targeting and measurement capabilities. OpenX, for instance, has layered Oracle data in its platform, providing media buyers with high-quality data alongside a direct path to transparent inventory.

How SPO Benefits Advertisers 

A key focus on transparency and optimization always nets a better experience for both brands and consumers. These shifts specifically provide advertisers with the following benefits and improvements in the ad-buying experience.

  • Transparency in Ad Placements: Enhanced ad transparency helps advertisers understand how their spend is utilized and further evaluate the quality of their ad placement. Transparency is crucial to avoiding ad fraud and ensuring that ads are not placed on inappropriate or irrelevant sites.
  • Access to Premium Inventory: With a deeper focus on curation, advertisers can gain access to premium ad inventory that might not be available through other channels. This allows for more strategic ad placements in high-quality environments.
  •  Improved Ad Performance and ROI: Supply-side optimization and data integrations use algorithms and analytics to place ads more effectively, ensuring that they reach the right audience at the right time. This increases the likelihood of user engagement and conversion, leading to better returns on investment (ROI).

Data-driven customer experiences sit center stage as advertisers work to create both privacy-compliant and targeted experiences for shoppers. The new changes and partnerships outlined above pave the way for advertisers to have more control over data and its implementation to create optimal media buys. 


Connected TV (CTV) Takes Center Stage in a Cookieless Landscape

CTV (Connected TV) has been a major focus in the industry for several years, particularly as many consumers have shifted from cable subscriptions to streaming services. However, a key aspect of CTV’s appeal, especially highlighted during CES, lies in its inherently cookieless environment. This becomes increasingly relevant in light of Google’s phasing out of third-party cookies.

CTV users are authenticated when logging into either their device or a streaming platform. This authentication opens up several opportunities for advertisers, including access to enhanced targeting capabilities, the use of first-party data within various platforms and devices, and improved measurement solutions. Throughout the conference, we gathered three especially notable CTV developments that can help give advertisers the upper hand as they explore this cookie-free medium.


Rise of FAST channels

Free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) represents a significant segment of authenticated viewership. Platforms such as Pluto and Tubi are gaining traction due to their broad audience reach and robust measurement capabilities. Considering the high penetration of smart TVs in U.S. households, 77% to be exact, advertisers shouldn’t ignore the power and reach available through FAST channels.

Digital audio advertising via smart TVs

Recent insights from CES indicate a substantial proportion of consumers using smart TVs exclusively for audio streaming. This trend highlights the growing interconnectedness of the digital ecosystem across different devices and platforms. For advertisers without video assets, digital audio advertising presents a compelling way to reach CTV users.

The shift of live sports to digital platforms

Live sports are progressively moving away from traditional cable to digital platforms. While broadcast TV was previously the golden channel for advertising during sports events, changing consumer habits are altering this landscape. Amazon Prime, for example, is now the exclusive broadcaster of Thursday Night Football, bringing football fans to their platform in order to tune in. Advertisers need to adapt to these changes by preparing for digital ad placements to effectively target and engage sports fans.


Embracing Digital Advertising’s Evolving Landscape

Insights from CES emphasize the need for advertisers’ adaptability in the dynamic digital landscape. A focus on supply curation, transparency, data-driven strategies, and the rise of CTV all underscore the importance of harnessing new technologies and platforms to create optimal campaign impact and stay ahead.

The Promise and Potential of Data Clean Rooms

Every few years, the digital advertising industry is left to cope with tremendous change spurred on by tech giants. Most recently, Google’s promise to eventually deprecate third-parties cookies and Apple’s move to do away with IDFA in the name of privacy protection have presented significant targeting and tracking challenges for advertisers and marketers. Organizations have been hard at work developing alternative solutions to mitigate the impact of these changes on the industry. While there are many solutions from which advertisers can choose, one would be remiss to overlook data clean rooms.

What is a data clean room?

Digilant defines data clean rooms as privacy-safe, cloud-based environments that allow two parties to match aggregated data based on a shared identifier. This process is facilitated by an identity graph or an alternative ID, like The TradeDesk’s Unified ID 2.0 (UID 2.0) or LiveRamp’s RampID. In data clean rooms, data is matched in privacy-compliant ways so that businesses always remain in control of their data and personally identifiable information (PII) is never exposed. 

Why data clean rooms?

As we near third-party cookie deprecation, data clean rooms present marketers with a privacy-safe, cookieless way to aggregate and enrich their data sets. 

Take LiveRamp, for instance. Their vast network enables marketers to aggregate various data sets like CRM, ad server, publisher, and audience data via their Safe Haven enterprise platform. This privacy-safe data clean room allows for holistic, deep-level data analysis. Combining these data sets enables businesses to gain profound insight into the customer journey. This intelligence allows organizations to improve their audience modeling, enhance their targeting strategies, and analyze consumer trends. Furthermore, with LiveRamp’s RampID, businesses can combine the buy and sell sides of the ecosystem in one centralized and privacy-safe environment. 

While data clean rooms may present a powerful option for navigating identity and privacy changes, organizations must perform their due diligence to understand which solution (or combination) will best equip them to navigate a cookieless, privacy-first world. Despite their potential, data clean rooms are not a one-size-fits-all solution.  

Businesses with rich first-party data sets, like D2C brands and publishers, stand to reap the greatest benefits of using data clean rooms because they rely on first-party data. Furthermore, large companies with robust data assets will find data clean rooms easier to implement than smaller, leaner organizations. And, of course, the larger the data set, the more resources are required — specifically those with technical knowledge and skill — to implement the solution. Once in place, organizations must dedicate the appropriate resources, like data scientists, to examine and extract data insights. While data science teams are likely the most affected by data clean rooms, they’re not the only teams impacted. Clean rooms require agreements with each partner participating in data sharing, putting added strain on legal and partnership teams as well.

Promise, potential, and possibility

Partnership is a critical component of data clean rooms. While this may lend itself to obstacles, it opens the door to teamwork and cooperation across the entire digital ecosystem. As privacy-safe data sharing becomes increasingly popular and data clean rooms pick up steam, the industry will evolve, becoming more collaborative and making exchanging and leveraging data as frictionless as possible, opening the door to even more possibilities.

Working with a data-first company that understands evolving trends is critical to implementing and leveraging new technologies that drive business outcomes. With the right support and partners like Digilant, even smaller or new organizations can implement and leverage data clean rooms to reap the same benefits as large enterprises. 

Apple iOS 14: What It Means for Marketers and First-Party Data

During the WWDC Conference in June, Apple announced iOS 14 – an operations systems update that will be coming to iPhones this fall. The update brings a variety of new features to iPhones and iPads, most notably for marketers are some major changes to privacy features. New features will protect users against location tracking and tracking on apps and websites. 

When iOS 14 goes into effect, mobile apps will need to request and receive permission from users via a pop-up opt-in to access a device’s Identifier for Advertisers or IDFA. IDFA is a device identifier that Apple uses to identify a user’s device without revealing Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Many advertisers rely on IDFA to find target users, deliver customized advertising, measure campaign performance, and more. 

The IDFA is not going away officially, but it’s critical that marketers start preparing for an IDFA-less world. It’s estimated that the majority of users will be wary of sharing data and will NOT opt-in – with only 0-20% of users expected to be willing to opt-in to IDFA tracking. 

In an IDFA-less world, for marketers to properly track mobile attribution, users will need to have opted-in to tracking on every app where ad impressions were served. 

As a result, fingerprinting and probabilistic attribution will become even more important and mobile measurement vendors like Kochava and AppsFlyer will respond with continued investments to innovate and deliver high demand solutions. 

One drawback to probabilistic methodologies is that they are more susceptible to fraud. Bad faith actors will see Apple’s privacy changes as an opportunity to deceive marketers on attribution. so marketers and strategic partners will need to focus heavily on fraud and brand safety measures. 

Looking Ahead To First-Party Data

If there is a single takeaway for marketers from Apple’s iOS 14 announcement it’s that the risk has never been higher for marketers who rely heavily on IDFA and other third-party data identifiers and tracking sources. Alternatively, the door to opportunity will open wider for marketers that are staying closer than ever to first-party data. 

While the IDFA is largely going away, marketers will still have access to the Identifier for Vendors or IDFV. The IDFV ensures that companies with their own app(s) can use an identifier to access first-party user data and to understand the audiences within the app(s) they own. 

Today, marketers can activate these first-party audiences and push them to many platforms for activation and media buying via the IDFA because it is universal. With the release of iOS 14, marketers will need to focus on identity resolution around hashed emails or households to integrate first-party data seamlessly into activation channels like Facebook and Google. 

The importance of first-party identifiers and data has steadily increased over the years, and Google’s Chrome and Apple’s iOS announcements have sent it forward exponentially. 

Next Steps

If you want to learn more about how to set your brand up for success in an IDFA-less world or you just want to chat through some of your concerns related to the iOS 14 release, contact us here.

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