Vizio Adjustments Inscape Information Licensing Settlement As CTV Land Seize Warms Up

Key players in connected television, including Amazon and Vizio, are cementing their position as go-to-ad platforms as streaming access increases.

Vizio is changing licensing agreements with ad tech companies through Inscape Data Services, its television data company. According to multiple sources, Vizio is restructuring contracts with Inscape customers to limit retargeting and other use cases of Inscape data that could cannibalize or otherwise compete with Vizio's burgeoning advertising business.

Vizio signed many of these data license agreements before the ad business launched in late 2019. After a restructuring in October, Inscape was integrated into Vizio's platform business.

As Vizio uses Inscape internally to improve its advertising offering and the usability of Smart TV, the company's data relationship with third parties is also changing. This change will affect ad tech companies that have relied on Inscape to strengthen their media arbitrage business.

Vizio has more than 30 million smart TVs in the US. Inscape currently offers automatic content detection data that records what viewers watch on more than 16 million activated Vizio smart TVs in America.

Vizio declined to comment.

The walls of Amazon rise higher

Similarly, Amazon's relationship with ad tech companies has changed in CTV.

In mid-2019, Amazon signed contracts with software companies Dataxu and The Trade Desk to enable both demand-side platforms (DSP) to resell Amazon Fire TV streaming inventory. The deal with Dataxu ended after competitor Roku bought the DSP in October 2019.

As of September 2020, The Trade Desk will no longer work with Amazon. Rather than having a direct line to Amazon Publisher Services, the company's header bid tool, The Trade Desk now prefers closer relationships with app and content owners. It does this primarily through other supply-side platforms (SSP), which "provide transparent access to a wide range of broadcasting inventories," the company said in a blog post.

During the company's last call for earnings, Jeff Green, CEO of The Trade Desk, said he initially thought the relationship with Amazon would last longer. He added that Amazon Publisher Services accounted for less than 1.5% of CTV ad impressions through its platform. "If you get that (inventory) more directly, it's actually better for us, better for our advertisers," he said.

Amazon, which has more than 40 million Fire TV users a month in America, has also not given the DSPs access to its own and operated IMDb TV streaming service, according to multiple sources.

Build walls as the room matures

CTV platforms are expanding their advertising business as more people flee their cable providers to stream, a trend accelerated by the pandemic.

According to eMarketer, CTV ad spend is projected to hit $ 8.1 billion by the end of the year and will grow by $ 6 billion over the next two years.

With consumer behavior changing and spending soaring, streaming platforms are building technologies and optimizing business models to attract those viewers and dollars. For example, smart TV maker Samsung, which has a US presence of more than 50 million smart TVs, recently launched a DSP. Meanwhile, Roku rolled out a revamped ad tech offering with 46 million monthly US accounts.

However, walled gardens in CTV are different from the rest of the digital environment dominated by Google and Facebook. Similar to the digital duopoly, platforms like Roku, Amazon and Samsung do not allow their data from first-party providers to be transferred outside of their walls. Although Vizio is still selling Inscape data, there are now restrictions on how it can be used.

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