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Weekly Roundup: IAB Tech Lab’s Seller-defined Audiences Specifications, European UID 2.0, and More

IAB Tech Lab seller defined audiences
“There’s been quite a bit of commoditization that has happened around publisher audiences and premium content more broadly. We’re trying to make sure publishers have firmer controls over how their audiences are used.”

Last Week’s Highlights

  • IAB Tech Lab released its seller-defined audiences specifications that theoretically explains how publishers can monetize their first-party data on the open web
  • The Trade Desk partnered with LiveRamp to launch a GDPR-compliant European version of Unified ID 2.0, named European Unified ID
  • Behavioral targeting is facing immense backlash in both the EU and the US as the advertising industry argues over its efficacy and need
  • Alternative identity providers in conjunction with private data networks are the key to creating a sustainable approach towards targeted advertising in a cookieless future
  • A number of prominent publishers have decided to ditch Google’s AMP in an attempt to make higher advertising revenues
  • As third-party cookies become obsolete, anonymized IDs (tokenization) and monetization of first-party data are expected to trend in 2022

IAB Tech Lab’s Seller-defined Audiences (SDA) Specifications

Last week, IAB Tech Lab released its seller-defined audiences specifications. SDA is the first technical specification of Project Rearc. It allows publishers to monetize their first-party data and site traffic on the open web. Publishers usually don’t make first-party data available in the bidstream because of privacy concerns and scalability issues, but this is changing as the deprecation of third-party cookies nears. SDA facilitates defining, naming, and selling programmatically against publisher audiences. 

Depending on a visitor’s behavior on a website, SDA assigns a relevant taxonomy ID from IAB Tech Lab’s audience taxonomy. With 1,600+ standard attributes, the latter can accurately define many niche audiences. Publishers and data partners can then map these audience attributes to individual taxonomy descriptors and register the data labels on datalabel.org. Datalabel.org allows the creation of descriptive labels to enrich first-party audience data in a privacy-safe manner. 

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Buyers can buy against these labels through their partnered DSPs using existing Prebid’s header bidding integrations for OpenRTB. Comparisons are made with cohort information containing anonymized first-party signals from various publishers. Buyers should, however, have a DSP that supports the spec. Contextual data labels can also be transmitted using SDA, although it’s theoretical at the moment. 

“The taxonomy is intended to replace a lot of the digital exhaust within a bid request,”

– Benjamin Dick, Senior Director of Product, IAB Tech Lab (Src)

Cookieless Advertising

The Trade Desk and Liveramp Plan an EU-specific ID Solution

In a bid to avoid a potential GDPR lawsuit, The Trade Desk has partnered with LiveRamp to launch a European version of Unified ID 2.0, dubbed EUID (European Unified ID). Unified ID 2.0 has already been tested in North America but has failed to gain traction in the European market. EUID aims to resolve that issue. 

Based on LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution – a tool that allows publishers to collect site visitors’ emails and use them for advertising purposes – EUID results from several failed advertising solutions that crumbled because of competitive tension in the programmatic space. While the previous ID solutions failed courtesy of the reason above, LiveRamp and The Trade Desk are determined to make EUID a beacon of collaboration, as they think it is the only way forward in a cookieless future.

This spirit is visible in EUID supporting a RampID (previously called IdentityLink) integration. This allows both EUID and RampID to be purchased through The Trade Desk or any other DSPs that join this program. As IAB’s TCF remains under probationary status owing to the Belgian DPA’s ruling, EUID still keeps the hope alive for addressable open web programmatic transactions in Europe.

What’s the Future of Behavioral Advertising?

Behavioral advertising has long been in the crosshairs of policymakers as it has been cited to promote discrimination, scams, fraud, and misinformation. After Cambridge Analytica, regulators have been cracking down on behavioral advertising, as big tech companies horde users’ personal information to facilitate such hyper-targeted ads.

The EU has already passed the DSA (Digital Services Act) that bans serving targeted advertising to minors, sensitive category tracking (sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation), and necessitating the provision of reasonable alternative options to users who opt-out of targeted advertising. It further bans dark patterns from persuading users to share their data and implements strict GDPR enforcement. A separate bill is expected from the EU to address digital political advertising. However, the implementation is far from over as the European Commission and its member countries lobby to adopt an official position over the aggressive banning of behavioral advertising.

A similar bill was introduced in the US last year. However, Congressional action on behavioral advertising seems unlikely, but the FTC taking action looks plausible. Furthermore, US President Joe Biden banned targeted advertising to children amidst general support. Efforts are now being made to create a federal law for privacy, which would take considerable time.

The digital advertising industry is quite opposed to such regulations, arguing that banning behavioral advertising would result in smaller businesses finding it hard to reach potential customers, and free services are becoming chargeable. Regardless, the momentum of the current scenario points towards a dismissal of targeted advertising. 

The Future Lies With Private Data Networks

As third-party cookies come near their end, cookieless audience targeting using contextual and cohort-based approaches are becoming the norm. However, despite their many benefits, these methods do not have the granular capabilities that cookie-based targeting offers. Despite the absence of a comprehensive solution, industry players need to rethink their approaches and make strategic changes to prepare for a cookieless future. 

Adopting AIPs (Alternative Identity Providers) such as The Trade Desk’s UID 2.0 or LiveRamp’s RampID would enable publishers to utilize opt-in data of users and create an anonymized skeleton ID that can be used at scale. However, it comes with its own set of challenges. Next up, the industry needs to stop treating data clean-rooms – facilitating data creation and linking up – as static environments. It needs to be scaled up into a consortium of pre-approved participants, co-participating through a PDN (Private Data Network), providing access to pooled-in relevant cookieless data. 

Using both PDNs with the scalable AIPs, the existing programmatic infrastructure can be retooled to accommodate this new type of data and position advantageously for a cookieless future. It should allow both buyers and sellers to activate desired audience pools and utilize first-and-third-party data to execute targeted advertising without relying on browser-based cookies. 

Publishers Are Ditching Google AMP

Several prominent online publishers have decided to stop using Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Some big names include Vox Media LLC, BDG, and Buzzfeed’s Complex Networks. The Washington Post chose to ditch AMP last summer, which indicates a growing tendency amongst media publishers to be less reliant on Google. Relationships between Google and publishers have been strained since the anti-competitive behavior lawsuit it faced in December 2020, and unsealed pages of the lawsuit have only worsened things.

The unredacted lawsuit made allegations that Google’s AMP pages have been specifically designed to make ad inventories difficult to auction on platforms that aren’t Google’s ad exchange. It further alleged that ads that didn’t use AMP had a one-second delayed load time. 

While Google has quashed these allegations, slating them to be false, publishers have become skeptical. They have started dropping AMP, citing greater control over page formats and ad designs, a higher number of ad marketplaces, and the ability to utilize header bidding on an open internet. Furthermore, consultants and media executives expect non-AMP pages to accrue 20% more advertising revenue without having page-load speed.

“You can make your own webpages perform really well without making compromises Google requires to make AMP work,”

– Tyler Love, CTO, BDG (Src)

Trends That Will Define 2022

2022 will be a year of significant changes. As third-party cookies become unsupported in Chrome by mid-to-late 2023, buyers and sellers must rethink and prepare their approaches to targeting, measurement, and attribution in a cookieless environment. Some of the trends that will define 2022 include:

  • Personally Identifiable Information data exchange will be replaced with tokenization: Anonymous identifiers or tokens are the future as secure data transfer becomes an imperative in the adtech ecosystem. Consumers have started to care more and more about where their data goes and how it is stored. Therefore, the key is linking data at scale without compromising privacy by sharing only descriptive or transactional attributes stored within anonymized tokens. 
  • First-party data will become all-important: As third-party cookies become obsolete, it is becoming more apparent to publishers that accurate targeting will only become possible if they can scale their high-quality first-party data. Cloud-based data warehouses and first-party data specifications like Seller Defined Audiences are therefore expected to become the norm. 

Publisher Strategies

Axel Springer and Insider’s Latest Podcast Company Spooler

Insider and its parent company Axel Springer have invested in a new podcast company known as Spooler. Funded as part of a joint investment by ASIV (Axel Springer Insider Ventures), Spooler will be one of the many future investments that ASIV will make to further innovation in media. While Spooler is a separate company, Insider will work closely with the startup to create new podcasts such as The Refresh – soon to be released.

Spooler will be using proprietary tech that allows producers to update a podcast’s content with fresh segments in real-time after publishing. This tech enables individually produced audio segments to be stitched with the original podcast in real-time, deviating from most podcasts’ episodic nature. Users will listen to the most up-to-date versions, experiencing seamless audio despite repeated updates. The audio players on Insider’s website and mobile app will further allow users to skip segments they have already heard. 

Spooler aims to attract enterprise-level media and news organizations, individual journalists, and listeners who wish to stay updated about topics that interest them. Hopes are that Spooler’s tech will be used by myriad industries such as corporate training and communications, as well as provide market penetration for smart speaker and car audio users.

Moments That Matter

  • Google’s Privacy Sandbox and Apple’s SKAdNetwork are going to be intrinsically different – AdExchanger
  • Privacy Shield 2.0 might be of high priority, but implementation would prove tricky – TechCrunch
  • Omnicom’s Annalect gains exclusive access to an arsenal of consumer’s card-purchase information – Digiday

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Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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