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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Collective Patents its Cross-platform Targeting Technology

March 10, 2015 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

Collective, Inc. has been granted a patent for its technology that targets online advertisements to consumers based on their TV viewing habits by anonymously linking linear television data to digital across multiple screens. They filed for the patent in 2011 when they launched TV Accelerator, and CEO Joe Apprendi describes the four years since as “pretty interesting” given the industry’s increasing desire for cross-platform measurement in that time.

While Collective has been successful deploying its own solution, Apprendi says “now that we’ve got the patent, we’re excited about trying to make this as the standard in the market and establishing a licensing model around it.” Their U.S. Patent 8,949,890 protects the company’s offering and reinforces Collective’s expertise in multiscreen advertising.

Certainly, as audiences increasingly consume content across multiple devices, media companies and marketers are interested in understanding their behavior and, of course, the impact of advertising in various contexts. Interestingly, Apprendi says the origins of Collective’s TV Accelerator solution can be traced to Nielsen research that showed the remarkable lift in ad recall when consumers were exposed to a television commercial and online video. With the Nielsen process, however, this could only be measured when it “randomly happened.” Apprendi says his team realized that “Collective was in a unique position to make this happen intentionally.”

Nielsen’s recent acquisition of Exelate, a company that connects identities across all channels and devices, signals that others would also like to be in that position. Apprendi notes that Nielsen was in the “ad effectiveness and audience measurement business, which they are good at. Now it looks like they are moving into targeting, using data to target, not just measure.”

Collective, says Apprendi, has a head start given that they’ve been doing this for a decade already and have core capabilities focused on data-driven programmatic advertising and on providing audience contextual data to deliver targeted ads across platforms.

Apprendi believes that most marketers are buying publishers’ channels as a proxy to reach a target audience but they should actually flip that thinking in order to make better decisions about where to make big direct investments. “Let’s not make those decisions until I buy programmatically across platforms, screens and media brands to see which avenues and media brands perform the best.” Then, he says, marketers can make better decisions about where to make a significant direct investment.

And, while he sees signs of progress with more and more agencies having a unified video buying practice across screens, he says that “The Holy Grail is that eventually, we’ll see marketers start with audience first, rather than ‘this is what I did on TV now what should I do to support that.’”

At a minimum, Apprendi encourages marketers to use data and analytics to determine which media outlets make the most sense for their objectives. And on the publisher side, that data can help them respond or optimize their content strategy. “Data makes everyone smarter at the end of the day.”

The long term goal, however, is “full transparency,” says Apprendi. This is not just cost transparency, but includes issues of inventory quality and viewability. “We need transparent relationships if we want to help marketers make smarter media decisions.”

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