Summit Snapshot: Identity Management Challenges Underscore Need for Cross-Industry Coordination and Leadership

October 1, 2020

Big idea: As the marketplace ponders what comes now and after cookies, the results will have to balance the value consumers place on privacy, convenience and access to diverse content.

With the industry’s heightened attention on identity management amid policy making and technology developments, it’s no wonder the ad tech community – joined by agencies, publishers and advertisers – is organizing to make sure that crucial links to the consumer are not lost amid the development of new technical architectures.

Such interruptions clearly are not sustainable – and would likely harm our Internet economy either by concentrating power cloaked inside “opt-in” regimes, and de-funding the long tail of the open web, where consumers place a premium on convenience, content and services – and much of journalism gets funded. So as “cookies,” as an identity management and resolution tool, are poised to be replaced by something(s) else, a Digital Advertising Alliance Virtual Summit 20 panel discussed what may need to come next – in part by focusing and meeting consumer expectations.

The panel featured Chetna Bindra, senior product manager, user trust and privacy, Google; Dennis Buchheim, president, IAB Tech Lab; Travis Clinger, senior vice president, addressability and ecosystem, LiveRamp; and Adam Dharens, head of product, DMP, Oracle Data Cloud. The panel was moderated by Chuck Curran, senior advisor, Digital Advertising Alliance.

A March To ‘Privacy by Default’ Should Not Undermine Consumer Conveniences and Access to Content

“Fundamentally we need to, as an industry, continue to do more -- more to create transparency in an ad ecosystem, that is complex, it’s often opaque, to the average user,” Google’s Chetna Bindra said. “People don’t often feel they have the kind of visibility or control that they would like to have, so as an industry, we really need to continue focus on that and continue to raise the bar.” 

Chetna Bindra, Google

Google’s Chrome team is working with industry in a multi-stakeholder initiative to identify potential solutions that would enable publishers and advertisers a “privacy-by-default” ability to continue engaging with consumers across platforms.

“This isn’t so much a single product launch that Chrome is looking to do,” Bindra said, “it is ensuring that public dialogue is something that continues and is very active so that key use cases are being surfaced, but with the intent of finding solutions where users aren’t being identified across sites. …What’s really important is that very open dialogue in ensuring that multiple use cases and critical monetization mechanisms are taken into account so we aren’t really trying to do this in a silo is one of the most important messages to takeaway.”

IAB’s Dennis Buchheim confirmed one of scenarios Google Chrome, among others, are seeking to encourage. “Ultimately the goal is to build the one to one relationship more explicitly with consumers, and have them authenticate or raise their hand in some way — doesn’t have to be a log in — and say, ‘it’s okay for you to know who I am.’”

Virtual - Dennis Buchheim, president, IAB Tech Lab

Dennis Buchheim, IAB Tech Lab

“As we look at the end of the third party cookie over the next year and a half, we see this as not a technology problem, but as a trust issue,” said Travis Clinger of LiveRamp, who believes consumers don’t readily grasp the content-for-data value exchange – and perhaps more education is needed here. “Where consumers want, they should be able to share their identity with publishers, so if a consumer goes to a publisher’s site, and says, ‘the content you make, it’s really great. I want to share my identity with it in order to gain access to it, or maybe to get some premium content, maybe to avoid paying a subscription fee.’”

Those value exchanges – and importantly their recognition by consumers – is a “must” for the digital advertising ecosystem to thrive as a vehicle for relevance.

We see three big technical pieces of this [rebuilding of the ecosystem],” said Clinger, spanning trust, infrastructure and accountability. “The first is identifying consumers through a trusted value exchange.… The second part is we have to upgrade the pipes… This gets to the third point. Marketers want accountability, they want transparency. If they buy on impression, they should be able to measure that impression.”

Interrupting Cookies Interferes with a Lot of Beneficial Data Uses

Virtual - Travis Clinger, senior vice president, addressability and ecosystem, LiveRamp

Travis Clinger, LiveRamp

“When cookies go away, it breaks audiences and retargeting,” Clinger said. “But it also breaks clickthrough attribution, post-click attribution, third-party online data segments. It breaks omnichannel marketing, it breaks personalization. All of these items and platforms will have use cases that don’t work anymore. We’ve got to go through and upgrade those pipes.”

Many panelists agreed that browsers should not be setting “default” controls that interfere with the relationship between publishers, advertisers and their customers, new and prospective.

“Cookies are just an identifier, a medium for attributing a profile, attributing data attributes on,” said Oracle Data Cloud’s Adam Dharens. “But in the absence of an identifier, we still believe that data can be leveraged in unique and interesting ways to increase the performance of that paid media, and optimize that customer experience.”

Virtual - Adam Dharens, head of product, DMP, Oracle Data Cloud

Adam Dharens, Oracle Data Cloud

“We don’t feel that there is going to be a single solution that replaces the addressability of third-party cookies one-to-one in a browser-based advertising setting,” Dharens said, echoing recently published research from Winterberry Group on identity management that was announced after the DAA Summit. “Therefore, we’re taking a portfolio approach….  We have our own similar spectrum of profitability or identifiability.”

“Travis said it best -- consumer trust is essential for our industry,” said NAI’s CEO Leigh Freund, a DAA Board Member who introduced the panel. “Without consumers none of this works. Prioritizing privacy protections and consumer experiences is critical, and will prompt hard conversations and significant work. No one segment of our ecosystem will solve this problem on its own; for this ecosystem to thrive, everyone must work together collaboratively on business practices and uses that protect privacy and use data responsibly."  

Well said, Leigh. From where we are, thanks to the great guidance of folks such as our trade association partners and all our DAA participants, we have a good launching pad toward the future, and – challenges aside -- I’m delighted that we’re able to offer a table for folks to come together and talk about this vital identity issue going forward.

DAA wishes to acknowledge the editorial contributions of our summer associate Paul Lozaw to this report.


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