Trade Desk hands off Unified ID in key step toward replacing cookies

Dive Brief:

  • Unified ID 2.0 named as operator, according to a press release, marking an important step as the solution races to become an alternative to the third-party cookie.
  • As operator, Prebid will manage the technical backbone on which Unified ID runs, including hardware and software. The Trade Desk, which first created Unified ID, relinquishes oversight of the solution to Prebid as part of the move.
  • Prebid is an industry nonprofit focused on bringing greater transparency and efficiency to programmatic advertising through open-source solutions. The group signing on as operator means Unified ID could be moving at a faster pace than Google’s competing Privacy Sandbox, Tom Krenshaw, Prebid chairman and chief technology officer of Magnite, told AdExchanger.

Dive Insight:

The race to replace the third-party cookie continues to heat up as Google Chrome will sunset the bedrock ad-targeting tool before 2022. Unified ID nabbing an operator means the solution, which has steadily secured endorsements from companies like Nielsen and LiveRamp, can establish the needed technical infrastructure to have its product function at scale, while staying true to its open-source roots.

Prebid will handle the encryption and decryption of email for Unified ID, which is an email-based identity solution, according to AdExchanger. The group will also provide support in the form of its existing AWS and Github accounts. Prebid is aiming to have the required pillars in place to prop up Unified ID by the second quarter of 2021, building the runway for a midyear launch, per AdExchanger.

Formed in 2017, Prebid is a nonprofit that develops open-source software for programmatic advertisers, including Prebid.js, Prebid Mobile, Prebid Server, Prebid Video and Prebid Native. The group’s focus on collaboration and transparency in programmatic media squares with The Trade Desk’s original intention for Unified ID, which was to create a solution that serves ad-tech vendors, publishers and marketers alike.

“From its inception, the goal of Unified ID 2.0 has been to provide a community asset operated by the industry as a whole and’s role as operator solidifies this intent,” Kershaw said in a press statement.

The Trade Desk, which operates a demand-side platform, has an existing relationship with Prebid. In 2019, it became a member of the nonprofit, with Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer David Pickles joining Prebid’s board.

A number of cookieless solutions have cropped up since Google announced plans to deprecate cookies last year. Google itself is working on a replacement, but has drawn fire from critics who believe the tech giant already wields too much control over the digital ecosystem.

In January, Google said that its Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) technology — part of the company’s Privacy Sandbox initiative — could drive at least 95% of the conversions marketers currently see with cookies. The claim has been met with some skepticism.

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