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Data Privacy

What Prebid’s role as operator of UID 2.0 means for marketers

Prebid announced that it will serve as an operator in the implementation of Unified ID 2.0, an industry-wide effort that aims to solve looming issues in the identity arena.

Prebid is an independent trade organization that saw its membership flourish following the rise of header bidding, which is a popular type of software that increases revenue for a publisher’s ad inventory. Prebid members include Hearst, News Corp, Gannett, OpenX, Index Exchange, Magnite and Criteo, among others.

Its role as an UID 2.0 operator is significant, as Prebid has a proven track record in scaling out technology solutions such as header bidding. Both UID 2.0 and header bidding are open-source efforts, which generally means they can be used, iterated and developed by any interested parties in the open-source development community. That approach places UID 2.0 in a strong position for success, as the path to widespread marketplace adoption will be similar. Its diverse group of members across the digital ad ecosystem also serves as a key asset.

“We’ve been doing this for a while,” Tom Kershaw, chairman of Prebid, told The Current on the organization's endorsement of UID 2.0. “And we’ve figured out how to do it in a neutral way with representation.”

“What’s exciting is we have advertisers, end buyers and platforms that are easily representative of the entire industry and not just a single segment,” he added.

What’s an ‘operator?’

In layman’s terms, Prebid’s role as an operator means it will handle the backend infrastructure required to scale out UID 2.0. “We are not focused on policy, policing or governance,” says Kershaw. “We administer software and operate machines on behalf of the industry as a neutral safe haven.”

Unified ID 2.0 is a next generation identity solution that aims to replace third-party cookies, which will expire come 2022 following changes made by leading browsers, as well as increasing consumer privacy regulation both in the U.S. and abroad.

Kershaw says the most exciting element of the partnership is coupling UID 2.0 with Prebid’s diverse group of members. “Those two together will equip our industry to succeed and reinvent the internet into a much better, more privacy-centric place,” he says. “It’s a change for Prebid, but we can now give publishers and buyers trust that is neutral and takes the entire community into account.”

Independent governance

As an industry-wide collaboration among adtech providers, publishers and advertisers, it has always been the intent that Unified ID 2.0 would be governed and operated by independent, third-party organizations. Prebid’s announcement as one of the operators builds on recent news from the Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media (PRAM) and the IAB Techlab regarding future governance of Unified ID 2.0.

“Building on our experience managing the specifications, global standards, and technologies powering much of the ad-supported landscape, and in coordination with PRAM, Tech Lab will engage the industry’s engineering and product community to evaluate and enhance UID2 going forward,” said Jordan Mitchell Senior Vice President, Privacy, Identity & Data IAB Tech Lab. ”Together, we have the opportunity as an industry to develop UID2 as one option for an interoperable, shared resource for companies to meet evolving addressability and privacy standards in harmony with commercial objectives.”

Dave Pickles, Chief Technology Officer of The Trade Desk reiterated this approach to independent governance. “We’ve submitted the code to PRAM for ongoing development, management and governance,” he said. “At the same time, we’re delighted that Prebid is coming on as an operator, running the tech for Unified ID 2.0. There will be room for more operators as evolving needs arise.”