Leading global ad buyer bets on Unified ID 2.0 to replace third-party cookies

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It isn’t clear what identity standard the advertising and publishing industries will ultimately settle on to satisfy consumer privacy demands and comply with future regulation. But a growing number of companies are putting their weight behind The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0 solution.

  • There are many proposed third-party cookie replacements in the market, from Google’s cohort based approach to browser or device fingerprinting and authenticated, persistent, identity solutions tied to unique email addresses or site logins.
  • On the ID side, a number of leading players have backed The Trade Desk’s (TTD) Unified ID 2.0 solution. The latest is Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s largest ad buyers and holding company for agencies including Leo Burnett, Starcom, Saatchi and Saatchi.
  • Publicis Groupe’s data arm Epsilon recently made its identity platform, CORE ID, interoperable with the Unified ID 2.0 solution. In joining the open-source TTD project, Publicis will add 250 million IDs from its CORE ID programme.
Emails and individuals
  • TTD represents around 80% of US adults and is the leading US DSP outside of Google. Companies already on board with Unified ID 2.0 include LiveRamp, The Washington Post, Nielsen, Criteo and Spot X.
  • Thibault Hennion, director of international operations at Epsilon said TTD is “extremely good in the last mile between audience segmentation and the publisher. But its ID solution was based on emails, when on our side it was based on individuals.”
  • Epsilon will now consolidate email and device IDs into a single customer profile. “We’re about meaningful conversation, we’re not in the retargeting world,” said Hennion. “We are here to build brand equity and build long term relationships. This is only possible if you’re doing it at the individual level.”
Solutions needed

Hennion warns that advertisers across the spectrum, from global agencies to individual brands, face being “blinded” and “suffocated” by the blocking of third-party cookies.

“If players don’t find alternatives, there will be a nuclear impact on the digital media value chain,” he said. “Third-party cookies are like the air that you breathe in. It was a natural currency for everything that happened online, everyone was using it because it was widely available.”

Publicis Groupe is backing partnerships with data platforms like TTD in the first instance. But it is also looking to work with publishers directly too, as the ‘gatherers of consent and the owners of first-party audience data.

A bet on user acceptance

Online identity is typically built from search data, with preferences inferred from searches carried out. Contextual data from publishers – tying searches to content consumed – deepens understanding of the individual and can be tied anonymously to devices, emails and logins.

Epsilon brings an additional layer in associating IDs with transactions, as the system is embedded in the e-commerce stacks of leading brands.

The focus of unique identifiers like Unified ID 2.0 is a bet that the technology will remain compliant with coming regulation. Also, it relies on consumers accepting a level of individual tracking in return for relevant marketing and free, ad-supported content.

The approach is diametrically opposite of Google’s FLoC system which builds anonymous groups or cohorts are around shared interests. The company stated it has no plans to support email-based identifiers and argues that that solutions that offer “a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web” are not sustainable due to the rising tide of consumer protections in digital.

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