Amazon has been quietly taking a page from the Apple playbook by restricting advertising data from leaking out of its owned-and-operated connected TV apps such as IMDb TV and Twitch.
Advertisers, digital video ad tech providers and developers say that the e-commerce giant has been erecting new barriers to viewer data through its connected TV apps, such as masking the internet protocol addresses of viewers. The development mirrors some of the moves from Apple in the past year. Apple has restricted web publishers and internet ad companies from using cookies, device IDs, and most recently IP addresses to identify consumers on their screens and build profiles on them to target ads.
Amazon is taking a similar approach on connected TVs, where it controls its own apps and Fire TV software, according to ad industry insiders. Amazon now masks the IP addresses when it shares data about ad campaigns on IMDb TV, which is a standalone app and available through the Prime Video app, and Twitch, the live-streaming app.
IP addresses had been a signal that was easily detected by third-party ad networks and other marketing technology partners, which work with many of the brands on connected TV advertising. Now, Amazon masks the addresses of viewers on its CTV apps by stripping out the information through its ad servers that talk with outside parties. It is a subtle but potentially significant change, according to advertisers.
Without the addresses, the effect could be similar to what advertisers have seen on Apple devices, where less consumer data means diminished capacity to collect advertising metrics, such as how often someone viewed an ad. That data can be crucial information in the CTV space, where marketers want to understand how often their commercials are seen by the same person, and control how often the ad is served to the same viewer, a tactic known as “frequency capping.”
“It could have a pretty wide impact,” says Tal Chalozin, chief technology officer at Innovid, a digital video ad tech platform. “If you’re a marketer looking to engage frequency capping, then you don’t know anything about the home, so it’s harder to do that. All parties are not getting as good of a result as they wanted. Marketers would like to see the data; tech providers rely on it to sell products; for media companies, it makes it harder for them to do targeting, they can’t release the most relevant ads.”