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Addressing the “Identity Crisis” in OTT: Vizbee Founder Prashanth Pappu

TV networks have an OTT problem. When it comes to watching their favorite shows on demand, people are device promiscuous. They jump from their connected TVs to phones to tablets and back in one episode of “The Good Doctor.”

Yet at the same time, people are app choosy. They may not want to download every TV network app to every device. In a world where people may only use half a dozen apps on their phones, the last thing they would seem to want is a cluttered connected TV screen. And they definitely don’t want to think too much about all this.

Enter Vizbee. The company’s tech is employed by media giants like Turner and NBCUniversal to essentially make all of their apps talk to each other. In fact, when a person downloads a TBS app on their phone, it is automatically pushed to their smart TV.

“Publishers are finally getting close to being able to have seamless experiences,” said Vizbee founder Prashanth Pappu. “It’s getting easier to connect data from across screens.”

Vizbee’s products are enabled by a unique technology that brings the best of IoT capabilities to OTT. The phone automatically discovers and controls nearby streaming devices in a household. But it does more than promise simplicity and seamless data capture. That’s because Vizbee is perhaps onto something bigger. It creates a byproduct: a digital cross-device audience graph.

For if you talk to any ad buyer, the biggest challenge/compliant when it comes to OTT advertising is cross-platform measurement. There is no way to connect consumers across iPhones, iPads, Rokus, smart TVs, websites, etc. Pappu calls this the video industry’s “identity” crisis.

Digital media’s power to track consumers — its supposed differentiator — has become weakened the more devices that emerge, he argues. And it’s not just cross-device measurement; ad targeting and attribution also require this foundational cross-device graph. If Vizbee can help solve for that crisis, they’ll unlock a massive opportunity. On top of that, the big players in OTT — whether it’s device manufacturers like Roku and Amazon or individual networks — are building closed data systems, making it harder for advertisers to target strategically across platforms.

Prashanth Pappu

 

What is your company doing to transform TV advertising?

Vizbee has created a home OTT platform where all our devices behave like one device. Our platform delivers seamless experiences for users and also creates a single identity for all the OTT & TV devices in a household in a very privacy- friendly manner. That is critical for cross-platform targeted ad campaigns with attribution.

 

What are the opportunities for your company in OTT advertising?

User identity is the currency of all TV & OTT advertising. Identity is increasingly getting fragmented across many streaming devices and cable boxes. Heightened concerns about user privacy are also impeding publishers from monetizing their viewership across various devices. The percentage of OTT/CTV inventory that is actually monetized with high CPM audience segments is still very low. Solving cross-device identity in a privacy-friendly manner is a big opportunity in OTT advertising.

 

What’s wrong with the conversation right now?

There is some recognition of the privacy concerns and most parties are beginning to comply with privacy legislation. But this has been done a bit grudgingly.

 

Where are the biggest challenges for the industry?

The biggest challenge for the industry is to create a privacy compliant, cross-device “data stack” for OTT advertising. The web/mobile data ecosystem does not work for OTT.

 

What is the biggest threat to a thriving OTT environment?

Privacy concerns can either bring the ad industry together or drive the creation of walled gardens. Besides Facebook and Google, there are other entities — ATT, Verizon, Amazon, Roku etc. — that will have a big impact on the viability of smaller content publishers to effectively monetize their viewership.

 

In one sentence each, who wins and who loses?

›  Newer privacy-friendly data vendors who also enable publishers to create their own 1st party data stand to gain.

›  3rd party data vendors who collect data without direct user consent or who used IP for cross-device targeting are rapidly getting downsized and will run into severe challenges.

 

What development do you think is most important to watch right now?

The debate about the formulation of a federal privacy law in the US senate is a key development to watch. As the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) paves the way for a stronger federal law in the U.S., there will be big changes in the OTT data ecosystem.

 

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