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Identity Under the Spotlight

Identity Under the Spotlight

Last week, Google announced that it would not support or use identity tools that allow targeted advertising across the open internet after it phases out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser next year. Even though the news came as little surprise to those following the evolution of identity technology, reactions from various sectors of the ad tech universe were swift.

“The landmark announcement raised more ambiguity, as some wondered if it was a precursor to Google divesting its programmatic tools,” according to AdWeek. “While others questioned if it would result in further advantages to Google’s own ad stack.”

Oracle took the debate in another direction. “The core problem is Google very much wants to dominate digital advertising — which generates 90 percent of its revenues — but it also desperately wants to be included with the social norm that increasingly values and protects privacy,” said Ken Glueck, executive VP at Oracle, in a company blog post titled, “We’re all FLoCed.”

Others highlighted that Google is playing by a different set of rules from everyone else, particularly when it comes to its own platforms: “What Google is not saying, or at least makes no mention of, is anything to do with app tracking on Android, tracking on YouTube or tracking on any of its other owned-and-operated properties or services, including Search, Maps and Gmail,” according to AdExchanger.

But perhaps more important, Google’s move also highlighted the need to develop upgraded alternatives to third-party cookies that put the consumer in the driver’s seat, while also preserving the value exchange of relevant advertising. Many in the industry are throwing their support behind alternatives, where consumers — and not a browser — are in control of their data. The Wall Street Journal reports that efforts such as Unified ID 2.0, for instance, now have north of 50 million users, despite being less than a week away from launching in beta.

“Unified ID 2.0 has been designed with the consumer in the driver's seat. The consumer's information is not identifiable. The consumer controls how their data is shared. And the consumer gets a simple, clear explanation of the value exchange of relevant advertising in return for free content,” said Jeff Green, CEO of The Trade Desk, in a blog post last week. “With this approach, Unified ID 2.0 has the best opportunity to become a new common currency of the open internet.”

Identity solutions such as UID 2.0 would serve as a new common currency that speaks to the role these emerging technologies can play when hurdles that go beyond identity. Desktop browsers, for example, only account for around 20 percent of digital advertising, and are being rapidly eclipsed by emerging channels such as CTV and mobile. Advertisers want to be able to measure their ad spend across channels, comparing the performance of ad impressions and adjusting in real-time.

Efforts such as UID 2.0 — which has seen adoption from publishers such as The Washington Post, as well as industry stalwarts like Nielsen, Index Exchange, PreBid, the IAB Tech Lab and LiveRamp — equip marketers with data-driven tools that allow them to measure the impact of their ad spend across all forms of digital advertising. It’s also privacy conscious because it is designed, first-and-foremost, from the consumer’s perspective.

“The gold standard for privacy is when you can get an opt in from an email address and clearly explain to the consumer what’s going on with their data. With cookies, everything just happened by default and data just kind of went everywhere,” said David Pickles, co-founder and chief technology officer at The Trade Desk, at a recent AdWeek Town Hall event. “UID provides an opportunity to have conversations with consumers and provide them with the sort of transparency we as an industry have been trying to provide for a really long time.”