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OpenX on its role with UID 2.0

OpenX recently announced that it will be joining a growing list of companies that are lending their support in rolling out Unified ID 2.0. The sell-side platform says it will aid in building out the technical support, which means making sure UID 2.0’s consumer-facing single sign-on feature is properly implemented across different publisher sites.

The Current caught up with Paul Ryan, chief technology officer at OpenX, and asked him what it means to be a technical operator, and why user experience is paramount for a technical solution like UID 2.0. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

In plain English, what does building out a ‘technical solution’ to UID 2.0 mean?
With an open-source project like UID 2.0, you’re going to have to actually implement the single sign on code for publisher sites and create these services across the web. And not just write the code for them, but actually run it and support them. The execution part of UID 2.0 is the most crucial aspect of UID if we want broad scale adoption.

Why is execution so crucial?
Coming up with open-source code, where you can implement single sign-on is awesome, but you have to actually take that code and put it in production for a publisher to, frankly, make it work. And that’s one of the biggest challenges to scale any standard. If poorly implemented, UID 2.0 can lead to fragmentation in the consumer’s eyes, which would be the largest threat to scale.

How is fragmentation a threat?
If we’re using a lot of different single sign-on providers, and we haven’t figured out how that ties across different groups of publishers, then you might be getting multiple requests from each publisher over and over again.

So, what's the result of all this work around UID 2.0? If I log into the Chicago Tribune, for example, I won’t have to log into the Washington Post?
Yes. And I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge. Otherwise, it’ll just look like islands of authentication.

Islands of authentication does not sound ideal, but why is that important?
The consumer must be completely aware of the value transfer that’s occurring. Making sure that consumers understand that in a cohesive way across different publishers is incredibly important because it will speed up consumer adoption and turbo charge demand side adoption because of its prevalence.

Last question: How does UID 2.0 differ from what other leading tech companies are doing with identity?
There are mostly two fundamental camps. We all know about the browser-based solutions. And their approach is very different, where the browser is preventing privacy issues by controlling the advertising ecosystem. Unified ID 2.0 wants to put the knowledge and control in the hands of the consumer, so they can understand the value transfer that’s occurring. UID 2.0 is going to have to coexist with all solutions because there might be different monetization paths for publishers. Getting all of that to work will be tricky. But we’re very bullish on UID 2.0 because it’s a complete solution for marketers, publishers and consumers.