Advertising ID Consortium Enters Next Phase With LiveRamp’s First Bidstream Integration

LiveRamp, dataxu and Index Exchange launched the first commercial proof of concept for the Advertising ID Consortium on Thursday.

The product places LiveRamp’s IdentityLink directly in the bidstream, skipping the cookie syncs typically required for a DSP and SSP to match against LiveRamp in a campaign.

Additionally, Bill Simmons, dataxu’s co-founder and CTO, is joining the board of the consortium.

The Advertising ID Consortium has struggled to gain traction because of competitive concerns. MediaMath co-founded the consortium last year, but left after a few weeks over concerns that LiveRamp’s IdentityLink was the only way to extend the shared cookies to an online audience ID – which didn’t sit well considering MediaMath has its own ID-matching product. AppNexus vacated its board seat and halted work with the consortium in September following its sale to AT&T.

But dataxu, LiveRamp, Index Exchange and The Trade Desk, now the operating partners of the consortium, think that those concerns will fade if the idea proves its value, and if IdentityLink alternatives eventually join the consortium.

There are no public results yet, but Simmons claims that pilot campaigns are delivering and scaling well.

The Advertising ID Consortium is designed to match identities of online audiences, so programmatic vendors can come closer to the capabilities of giant walled gardens like Google and Facebook.

While Google and Facebook use login data tied to actual people-based IDs to match or frequency cap audiences, programmatic vendors rely on fleeting and unreliable cookies.

People who recently cleared their cookies, for instance, or who alternate browsing between work and personal devices, are easy to miss. And many channels like mobile or connected TV don’t support cookies, meaning DSPs overlook large chunks of ad inventory.

Even when a match is possible, cookies get lost when buy side and sell side tech try to sync up, Simmons said. If an advertiser tries to use its first-party data to find customers on the open web, that cookie slippage results in a loss of 25-35% of its audience.

Integrating natively with IdentityLink could double the addressable audience delivered by a campaign, Simmons said.

What lies ahead?

But even if the product works as promised, the consortium faces a tough road to adoption because of the strategic advantage it currently delivers to LiveRamp. Match rates through LiveRamp’s IdentityLink would jump, and the service could strengthen LiveRamp’s people-based identifiers with data pulled from the bidstream, like Wi-Fi networks, IP addresses and device IDs.

LiveRamp is in talks with other SSPs, including OpenX, PubMatic and Rubicon Project, about integrating IdentityLink into the bidstream as well, said Travis Clinger, LiveRamp’s VP of strategic partnerships.

Buy side companies – many of which, like MediaMath and The Trade Desk, have their own products to match cookies and audience IDs – will be tougher to onboard.

“I shared those concerns initially,” Simmons said. But the governance of the consortium allows for alternate identity vendors, he said, and The Trade Desk, which acquired the identity-mapping company Adbrain last year, is a fellow board member that’s likely to throw its hat in the ring eventually.

Other ID consortiums in the mix

DigiTrust, the online audience ID nonprofit group acquired by the IAB Tech Lab earlier this year, could also expand from its cookie-based roots. With a more holistic identifier with mobile and connected TV device IDs, it would become an IdentityLink alternative, according to Simmons, who’s also a member of the Tech Lab’s DigiTrust working group.

“That’s the kind of competition we’re looking for,” he said.

IdentityLink will prove the concept works, but other vendors are expected and encouraged to join, LiveRamp’s Clinger said. An ID vendor would need to pass a board review for privacy and technological standards, and then could integrate with the consortium’s shared cookie pools, he said.

But other identity vendors have said the Advertising ID Consortium has made no effort to review or integrate their solutions, and that the consortium is set on its LiveRamp reliance for the foreseeable future.

Simmons said he understands the competitive tension. But the open ecosystem won’t be able to compete with walled gardens if vendors depend on cookie-based IDs, he said. “Marketers like LiveRamp’s onboarding and matches to walled gardens but haven’t been happy about how it works for programmatic.”

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1 Comment

  1. Mani Gandham

    DigiTrust has been blazing this path for some time now and already has all the necessary non-profit and neutral guardrails in place, along with a working system. Why it isn’t the top choice compared to the corporate interests which have already proven fickle just shows the state of industry politics.