Ad Tech, We Need To Talk To Each Other

Ad Tech, We Need To Talk To Each Other

In this guest post, The Trade Desk GM across ANZ Clay Gill (feature image) talks about the ad tech industry’s need for a unified cookie ID solution.

‘Open standards’ are ubiquitous. Life without them? Undoubtedly chaos.

These are standards developed – or approved – and maintained via a collaborative and consensus-driven process – made available to the general public. They facilitate interoperability and data exchange among different products or services, intended for widespread adoption.

Many of us may not realise it, but every time we screw in a light bulb, fill up our car with petrol or spend money – that’s open standards operating in the background, going about their business. They eliminate guesswork and make our day-to-day actions function smoothly. A life without open standards means more-or-less that every product, service and system-related decision that we make would be a shot in the dark. Quite literally, when it comes to light bulbs.

According to The International Organisation for Standardisation, “International [open] standards… give world-class specifications for products, services and systems, to ensure quality, safety and efficiency.” One industry in particular – tech – has been supercharged by standardisation and open standards.

Remember the days of PC vs Mac, and the two systems didn’t really play nicely together? Most of us would recall the myriad frustrations that resulted when rival systems were not compatible. The internet is the clearest example of open standards in action, where collaboration drives a better outcome for all. These days – whether you prefer iOS or Android – everyone is more or less on a level playing field. Log into a wi-fi network, type “http://” into a browser or boot up Netflix or Stan on your Connected TV and the experience is comparable, no matter what device you’re on. Consumers – and ad tech players – are benefiting from a mostly seamless user experience thanks to open standards.

One would, therefore, assume those working in ad tech would be at the forefront of improving open standards in the industry. And for the most part, you’d be right. But those of us in digital advertising are currently experiencing challenges akin to playground politics – there’s a few bullies, tight-knit cliques and telling of tales. This results in inconsistencies and duplication of effort when it comes to a ‘common identifier’ – or ‘cookies’, as they are commonly known.

Every time a user visits a website or social media property, they are assigned a random ID. And while ad tech players do their best to link these IDs together using their own match tables, there’s an almost limitless number of IDs and no uniform way of synching them across locations and devices. Today, when a user visits a webpage for the first time, typically hundreds of different platforms have to sync with one another to identify that user. Every player uses their own different ID, which slows down page loads, drives up prices and keeps match rates lower for advertisers.

The costs of these inefficiencies for all involved are so great that they’re almost incalculable. Marty Kihn from Salesforce recently wrote in AdExchanger about the need for a ‘shared ID solution’, stating that only 15 per cent of US marketers could consistently recognise audiences across channels using cookies.

At The Trade Desk, we have a modest proposal for our industry: we want to implement an open standard for a unified view of users across the internet. We want the industry to move from hundreds of cliques to a handful of interoperable options. That’s why we’ve developed our independent Unified ID solution and offer our footprint to any industry players who want access to it at no cost. As our CEO, Jeff Green, has stated, “This is not an attempt for us to rule the internet. This is really just an issue of math. This isn’t an area where people create proprietary advantage.” The Trade Desk sees Unified ID as an open and public service for the advertising industry.

How does it work? Unified ID combines and shares a user’s cookie footprint as a single identification, equally transacting across all their technologies and devices on a universal cookie ID. This means better and more relevant advertising, faster load times and improved match rates across inventory. In terms of match rates, we recently published results of nearly 100 per cent match rate accuracy across multiple devices and content providers, showing that that this approach works. And as the industry evolves towards a ‘cookie-less world’, The Trade Desk maintains its aim to build a transparent and robust universal solution that benefits both consumers and brands.

The industry across the globe is lining up behind the project. We are already collaborating with supply-side and data management platform players, and others who share a commitment to a better internet experience. More than 20 partners have signed up, including OpenX, Rubicon Project, Index Exchange, Lotame, Oracle Data Cloud and Eyeota – and we hope that the industry in Australia will take part.

We currently manage bids for nine million ads per second. By working with the Unified ID Solution, everyone has access to that same scale. This will hopefully allow for a more transparent advertising landscape, which steadily improves the outcomes for advertisers, and provides more value for consumers. Working together, and removing duplication, seems like common sense from our point of view.

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