Bridging Digital and Physical: Gimbal Acquires true[x]

Attribution continues to be one of the most opportune — and still wholly unsolved — components of the advertising and analytics worlds. Things get even more complex when trying to attribute marketing success from digital impressions to physical-world action, otherwise known and online to offline (O2O) tracking.

This holy grail of advertising and marketing gets the most attention with ad formats that drive significant offline/local transactions. That includes search, display, and audio (think: radio, podcasts, streaming). But another area of media consumption continues to join this attribution discussion: streaming/OTT television.

This was the case before a pandemic inflected streaming TV consumption levels  — everything from Netflx to Hulu. Now a confluence of events has created an explosion engagement activity around these TV services, including a shelter-in-place culture and a greater push from newer entrants like HBO Max and Disney+.

True Value

To put some numbers behind this jump, some networks have seen as high as 105 percent growth in connected TV viewing in the first half of 2020. eMarketer reports that this will result in sizable budget shifts among media buyers, with connected TV ad spending projected to grow 59 percent year-over-year.

With that backdrop, ad tech company Gimbal has met the moment by acquiring connected TV startup true[x] from the Walt Disney Company. The idea is that this brings together true[x]’s connected TV technology with Gimbal’s location tracking and targeting technology to collectively bridge the digital/physical gap.

Specifically, true[x] specializes in interactive video ads, which not only engender deeper viewer engagement but create more signals to measure for ad engagement. Through the incorporation of mobile devices in these ad engagements, the thought is that Gimbal can then connect the dots to subsequent store visits.

“The true[X] network of publisher integrations enhances Gimbal’s existing identity solutions and can connect users’ online and offline interactions for one-to-one targeting and measurement for use within our ecosystem in a protected and privacy-safe way,” Gimbal CEO Rob Emrich remarked in a statement.

Pivot Path

This is all in Gimbal’s DNA in continuing to crack the code for O2O attribution. Some of you may remember Gimbal from the retail beacon hype cycle circa-2015. But the company has pivoted from those roots and now specializes in a variety of mobile ad-tech tools to help connect the dots for retail transactions.

Speaking of backstories, true[x] was acquired by 21st Century Fox in 2014. Then after Disney acquired 21st Century Fox in 2019, true[x] ran under the Disney umbrella. It was included on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies List in 2019 and Now changes hands again — this time to improve O2O attribution.

“The combination of our value exchange-based approach to interactive video advertising and brand lift measurement, plus Gimbal’s offline attribution solution creates the first full-funnel advertising and measurement suite for connected TV and the entire digital ecosystem,” true[X] President Pooja Midha said.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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