"Marketer's Note" is a regular column informing marketers about the rapidly evolving, digital marketing technology ecosystem. This week it is written by Melissa Parrish, Executive Director, AdExchanger Research.
Last week it was reported that Facebook is building out an ad exchange platform, powered by Live Rail. If true, it’s an indication that the social networking giant continues to build an ad tech arsenal to rival Google’s. But it was the details of how this exchange might work that caught my eye.
According to the report in Ad Age, though LiveRail is known for providing an ad exchange for primarily desktop-based video ads, this new ad exchange will focus on mobile app display inventory, but it won’t replace Facebook Audience Network. Add to this that the new exchange will reportedly rely on Google and Apple’s advertising IDs rather than Facebook’s user data and one could guess that perhaps this is an audition for LiveRail’s technology to eventually support cross-device automation without relying on a Facebook login for user identification.
To be fair, this may have stood out to me because I’m working on a piece of research about cross-device targeting right now with my colleague, Lizzie Komar. It’s a hot topic lately: Nearly 40% of marketers in our recent survey think mobile’s ability to bridge the online and offline worlds is one of its biggest benefits, but more than half said the difficulty in identifying users across screens and experiences is one of their biggest disappointments with the channel. And both the FTC and the White House have recently gone on the record with their ideas of how to preserve consumers’ privacy while identifying them across devices.
But since there’s no standard way to do this yet, there’s a ton of confusion about how and why marketers should make this part of their media strategies. In fact, even one of the most basic tenets of cross-device targeting is proving more complex than meets the eye: Using deterministic data – like from a login – is surely the most accurate approach today and Facebook is an obvious favorite. However as more users log in to Facebook exclusively via mobile, even this approach will begin to fall flat. Not for accuracy or transparency – just practically.
This potential new LiveRail-based ad exchange has a long way to go before it jumps into the vast and confusing ecosystem of cross-device technology vendors, but if I’ve guessed correctly at the future of this offering it would mean that Facebook is insulating itself against Google in yet another way. Though Google hasn’t ever talked about a cross-device solution, you can bet they’ve got something up their sleeve. If Facebook expands beyond the user login and joins the cross-device competition it’s bound to be an interesting race to an accepted industry standard.