IAB Reveals Cookie Replacement, With Personalisation And Privacy To Boot

Business and technology concept.

The IAB is working on a way to replace third-party cookies, revealing Project Rearc (re-architecture) at a conference in the US this week.

The project will bring together IAB, IAB Tech Lab, government and the private sector to help create new technologies to power personalised online advertising.

Making the announcement, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg said Project Rearc is about harmonising “personalisation, privacy, and community”.

“Let’s call this new effort Project ‘Rearc’,” he said.

“Rearc has a deliberate double meaning: It means we’re going to dig in together literally to rearchitect how digital marketing works, so the three values of privacy, personalisation, and community can work together.

“It also means we’re going to change the trajectory – the arc – of digital media and marketing, to put consumers in the safe, sane, exciting center of everything we do.”

how did we get here?

Although the announcement came less than a month after Google revealed it would be blocking third-party cookies on Chrome within the next two years, cookies have been out of fashion for some time.

But as Rothenberg explained, the online advertising industry –  which was recently valued at over $US100 billion – still owes a lot to cookies.

“Let’s agree that third-party cookies were – excuse me, are – imperfect,” he said.

“But for all their flaws and warts, they have been central to the way advertising works in digital environments, and therefore central the creation of the entire Internet economy.”

Project Rearc marks an opportunity for the industry to rebuild from the ground up.

“But we also have created a messy and frightening marketplace built on the collection and use of personal information that scares the daylights out of a lot of people because they don’t understand it and cannot control it,” Rothenberg said.

“We’ve built it in a way that requires a doctorate in engineering to understand. Governments have rightly stepped in to attempt to offer fixes, but their laws also are difficult to comprehend, by consumers and businesses alike.

“The coming death of the third-party cookie allows us to fix all of that. It is an opportunity to change the economics of personal data so it – and its outcomes – favor consumers.”

how will it work?

There are some inherent challenges to Project Rearc.

To create personalised advertising solutions requires consumer data and – as we know – collecting consumer data will always come with privacy risks.

So how will Project Rearc tread this fine line?

It was suggested by AdExchanger Project Rearc could involve using hashed email addresses to track users, however Rothenberg took to Twitter to deny the rumours.

The specifics for Project Rearc are still mostly unclear, but just like Google’s Privacy Sandbox, the IAB wants to work with the industry in creating a replacement for third-party cookies.

During his address, Rothenberg implored brands, agencies, publishers and technology providers to invest in data leadership, implement best practices and apply best practices to the procurement process to help kick start Project Rearc.

“The time has come,” he said. “The third-party cookie will soon be dead. Let’s get to what is next. Let the rearchitected, harmonised Internet begin here and now.”

project rearc Australia

While some of the project will be localised within the US, it is without a doubt a global initiative.

Speaking with B&T, IAB Australia CEO Gai Le Roy confirmed Australian stakeholders would be asked to share their thoughts on Project Rearc.

“IAB Australia will be working closely with the global technical standards body IAB Tech Lab on this project and local consultation will be undertaken. There are phased approaches for the different work streams and our various local working groups will be reviewing all initiatives and ensuring we are developing frameworks that are suitable for our local market needs and regulations,” Le Roy said.

“IAB Australia is fully supportive of the approach announced for Project Rearc at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, it is an amazing opportunity for the industry to build a wide range of approaches that will drive more effective experiences for consumers, media owners and marketers.

“This project will have a number of work streams that will focus the industry’s attention on harmonization of personalization, trust and community. Obviously one of the most important areas of focus is on developing new identifiers to replace third-party cookies that have consumer privacy and consent front and centre.”


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