In 2021, Integral Ad Science (IAS) took the plunge into the connected TV space with the acquisition of Publica, a company that sells ad inventory for CTV publishers.
This was a departure for IAS as it primarily focused on measurement verification and brand safety standards, but CEO Lisa Utzschneider said that it was the right combination of skills, insights and data coming together that enabled the newly combined company to be a one-stop-shop for marketers transacting in the CTV space.
Of course, as consolidation in the advertising tech industry takes place, monitoring potential opportunities for conflict of interest will be necessary for the buyers operating in this space, but in the latest episode of the Digiday Podcast, Utzschneider said that IAS’s and Publica’s clients haven’t expressed concerns. That’s because the trust that both companies instilled in clients before the merger has carried through thanks to a deliberately long collaboration period prior to the point of sale, giving clients the chance to test the waters while the companies did not have shared finances.
In this episode, Utzschneider talks further about the acquisition of Publica, as well as the ongoing need for brand safety on platforms and why IAS is doubling down on its contextual data strategy in the face of the cookie apocalypse.
The conversation below has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
How IAS and Publica are combining assets to solve marketers needs
I personally spend a lot of time with marketers, and I’m also spending a lot of time with publishers and video publishers in particular. When you listen to marketers and publishers, and talk to them about their investments in CTV and buying more CTV inventory, and [ask them,] “What will it take for them to shift more of their linear TV dollars over into programmatic CTV?” They provide a couple of answers.
Marketers say they want greater transparency similar to linear TV, they want to understand “Where did my ad run? Which channel? Which app? Which device? How did it perform?” Pretty basic stuff.
So what’s incredibly exciting about leveraging IAS’s deep assets is, we’re heavy on the advertiser side; we’re verifying if digital ads were viewed by humans; [if they] ran adjacent to brand-safe brands suitable content, [and] you leverage that data, plus you leverage Publica’s deep programmatic CTV data on the publisher side, you bring those datasets together, and we can start solving some of those needs that we hear directly from our customers. So the one thing we’re starting to take a look at is providing better transparency for marketers when they purchase programmatic CTV inventory. And again, it’s the first inning of a long game, but we’re just so excited about the acquisition.
Keeping verification standards high while moving into the sales side
Trust is paramount in our role as a third-party verification company. We’ve been around for over 10 years and we’ve built such deep, trusted, loyal partnerships with our customers, right? We have over 2,000 advertiser customers around the world and when we made the acquisition, we were very mindful of ensuring our role as a leading third-party verification company. We maintain that trust [by] leveraging the assets that we acquired with Publica and listening to customers, listening to what they need, and leveraging these assets for their benefit.
I never hear concerns and I think it is because of the trust that IAS has built over many years. And then on the Publica side, [it] has an incredible, stellar reputation in the marketplace [because] they also deliver what they say they’re going to deliver. We had partnered with Publica for 18 months [prior to the acquisition] So [we have] a very healthy working relationship and the tech and product teams [are] totally in sync.
Taking on the cookie apocalypse with contextual targeting tools
This shift to the cookieless world has been a tailwind for IAS’s business, no question about that. What we’ve seen with marketers is they just don’t want to block content with a blunt instrument. They want more sophisticated tools. And we saw that two years ago when we launched our product, 24/7 Covid news cycle and the marketers didn’t want to block everything related to Covid. They just want to understand, “What types of Covid content am I comfortable running my ad next to?”
We’ve seen the ongoing trend of marketers getting much more sophisticated and educated about their contextual strategies. They’re leaning into sophisticated contextual solutions. And they’re hungry for more, and they’re leaning away from audience-based targeting. And the beauty of it is we don’t process a lot of data every day. It’s all about the where and what, it’s not about who – we don’t touch audience-based data.
Is the collapse of big tech’s culture overblown? Some experts think so
Some workplace experts aren’t so sure that the cushy culture that has come to define tech is coming to an end anytime soon.
‘Fear of saying the wrong thing is eating us alive’: Confessions of an Iranian-American advertiser on the industry’s silence on Iranian women’s rights
As Iran's feminist movement builds, one Iranian-American advertising executive questions American advertiser's silence.
Brands need to account for ‘psychological pain’ shoppers feel this holiday season, Horizon Media says
Although it seems every marketer is pulling out all the stops to get consumers to buy their stuff, there remains a good amount of uncertainty among the general population about how much they want to or plan to spend.
SponsoredWhy cookie deprecation is deflating performance and inflating costs for advertisers
With the full deprecation of third-party cookies on the horizon, advertisers and publishers are navigating a challenging and quickly evolving landscape. The sunset of the third-party cookie continues as usage and lifetimes fall. Their deprecation is preventing brands from effectively measuring the effectiveness of media campaigns in real-time at highly granular levels. As the industry […]
Why American Express invests in TikTok ahead of Small Business Saturday
As the #ShopSmall community grows on TikTok, American Express is hoping to tap into it.
How a Minecraft influencer is bringing advertisers to the platform
TubNet's primary challenge in integrating its brand partners was to do so without breaking the end user license agreement (EULA) of Minecraft developer Mojang, whose strict guidelines restrict the presence of brand logos directly inside the game.