Is A Unified ID The Answer To Our Cookie Problem?

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Much has been made of the cookie in recent times, particularly when it comes to programmatic advertising.

While some have hailed it the death of the cookie, it now seems more likely that what we know now will not disappear entirely, rather it will just change to better suit privacy concerns.

Programmatic company OpenX managing director APAC Andrew Tu spoke of life in a post-cookie world during a panel session at Advertising Week APAC 2019 in Sydney this week.

“Cookies will not disappear,” Tu said. “What it will probably morph to is a deeper knowledge of the user based on say, a unified ID, which will use some tracking.”

The idea of a unified ID has been much-discussed in recent times, as advertisers look for an alternative to traditional ad targetting solutions.

A unified ID promises advertisers a standardised identifier for when a user visits a webpage, which in turn will speed up website loading times and allow publishers to match more of their audience data with their inventory.

It would also aid user privacy concerns by limiting the number of companies IDs are synced to.

Independent ad tech firm The Trade Desk has been leading the way in this space, rolling out its unified ID late last year.

And while some argue such a solution disadvantages smaller demand-side platforms (DSPs), it does provide an opportunity for the ad tech space to move away from third-party cookies, which have caused so much controversy in recent times.

“The main goal is to come up with a unified ID that is considered a first-party cookie and can sense that a user approves receiving personalised ads,” said Verizon Media director of ad tech platforms John McNerney.

This could theoretically allow online advertisers to deliver more targeted solutions based on stronger intent signals, a move away from the scatter-gun approach third-party cookies encouraged.

But what would happen if the industry were to reject this change?

“If we can’t trap consumers and deliver targeted messages to them, based on some kind of identifier Advertising Week is going to be a lot smaller next year,” Tu joked.

“I hope we can come to some sort of compromise where we can still target, still tack in a privacy-compliant way that won’t freak out the consumer, but delivers on the basic premise of a value exchange.”

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