Why MediaMath ‘unjoined’ the Ad ID Consortium

And instead joined the IAB Tech Lab’s DigiTrust, now allied with the Consortium.

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About a week ago, the Advertising ID Consortium said it will offer the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Tech Lab’s DigiTrust ID as one solution, in addition to its own Open Ad-ID and The Trade Desk’s Unified Open ID.

This was a possible sign of reconciliation from two of the biggest efforts to find a unified way to identify online users, instead of every site dropping its own cookie and outside services dropping third-party cookies.

Because of the limitations on reading a cookie that another entity has deposited, the plethora of cookies means that vendors often have to sync up their cookies in order to know if they’re dealing with the same person.

But the two ID efforts previously took different approaches. The central, open solution from Advertising ID Consortium is based on LiveRamp’s IdentityLink technology and cookie, while DigiTrust — a non-profit that was acquired in April by the IAB Tech Lab — is an independent, vendor-neutral effort supporting one cookie whose data can be shared.

When the Ad ID Consortium was founded last year, its founding members were identity resolution provider LiveRamp and ad tech providers AppNexus and MediaMath, but MediaMath left and was soon replaced by Index Exchange. This past March, MediaMath joined DigiTrust.

Since MediaMath has been a part of both efforts, we checked in with VP John Slocum to get his perspective.

His company decided to “unjoin” the Ad ID Consortium for several reasons, he told me.

It concluded that a vendor-independent approach like DigiTrust’s was the better way to go, he said, compared to the Consortium’s plans to rely on the LiveRamp IdentityLink cookie, an AppNexus namespace and other vendor-specific particulars.

And, he said, the Consortium wanted to use its ID as a way to track a cross-device graph. In other words, the same ID for a user would be employed on a smartphone, a tablet and a laptop, and the Consortium would maintain a record of which IDs owned which devices.

Cross-device graph management, which already is its own specialized category, implies an ID for the consumer, Slocum said, while MediaMath decided the best approach was a browser-based ID that focused on the web and a specific device. This decision to move toward a device graph was the primary driver for leaving, he said.

If a vendor wanted to correspond, say, three IDs for three devices into a device graph, he said, they could, but the central mission of the organization wouldn’t be identity management of individuals.

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About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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