Magnite Hops Aboard The Unified ID 2.0 Train

Magnite is the latest ad tech company to throw in with the Unified ID 2.0 initiative, an open source ID spearheaded by The Trade Desk.

Magnite is the latest ad tech company to throw in with the Unified ID 2.0 initiative, an open source ID spearheaded by The Trade Desk.

On Monday, Magnite said it will adopt the ID initiative to use encrypted and hashed email addresses as the basis for a standard identity replacement for third-party cookies.

The Trade Desk has been striking deals left and right over the last few weeks to support Unified ID 2.0, including with LiveRamp, Criteo and Nielsen.

LiveRamp will embed UID 2.0 into its infrastructure starting in mid-December so that publishers using its Authenticated Traffic Solution can get access to the ID, and buyers through The Trade Desk can bid on LiveRamp IDs.

Criteo is helping to build the single sign-on interface and transparency portal that consumers will use to manage their consent and privacy settings.

And Nielsen will work with TTD to improve the measurement-related aspects of Unified ID 2.0 and eventually run a proof-of-concept test of the ID in Nielsen’s Digital Ad Ratings Product.

But one of the missing pieces, until now, was explicit support for UID 2.0 from the supply side.

In early November, Trade Desk EVP Michelle Hulst told AdExchanger that TTD was planning to add new partners in the weeks to come, including with SSPs, advertisers and publishers.

Magnite appears to be the first in that new wave of partnerships, and its endorsement will likely promote wider publisher adoption of the Unified ID 2.0.

Publisher involvement in the initiative is crucial for achieving scale, because publishers hold the key to user authentication.

"The entire solution hinges on publishers talking to their users about how the internet works and asking them to sign in to a multi-publisher approach to identity," said Magnite CTO Tom Kershaw. "Coordinating this conversation across thousands of publishers is clearly an SSP function, and then securely capturing that identifier and passing it only to authorized buyers is another clear SSP function."

Magnite’s plan is to build pipes that will allow it to receive the UID 2.0 value from publishers and then transmit it to a list of upstream buyers for OpenRTB bidding. Publishers will also have the ability to control the value and to whom it’s being transmitted. Magnite is in the process of building those publisher controls.

It’s also developing publisher tools to capture consent, including user interfaces so that end users can understand the consent process, and it's creating governance models for ensuring that the values are used properly by all of the partners in the supply chain.

Lastly, Magnite is developing encryption standards to protect the IDs, since there will be no central repository for storing them.

Eventually, Unified ID 2.0 will be managed by an independent governance body, although it’s as of yet unclear who or what type of entity will end up filling that role.

But there's another looming question, which is, how will – and how should – the industry's efforts to replace the third-party cookie coalesce with a similar debate going down at the W3C?

The "most important benefit" of the Unified ID 2.0 solution is that it doesn't require any browser involvement at all, Kershaw said. W3C solutions are designed for cases when there is no user identifier or log-in, which is one of the reasons the industry is skeptical about those efforts, he said.

"Google is pushing it, but they have logged-in users so we have doubts about their intent to use their own service, [while] UID runs a different, more targeted auction," Kershaw said. "However, over time we do need to coordinate these various activities so they work seamlessly with each other."

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