Although vendors are rushing to patent cross-channel ad-targeting solutions, this does little to address the lack of industry standards for cross-channel performance metrics.
Adelphic announced in early December that it had patented its technology for creating a unique identifier that can be applied to the same individual across multiple digital devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs.
The company received a patent for “uniquely identifying a network-connected entity,” which it defines as a user of a device or of the applications on a device. Through its technology, Adelphic assigns a unique identity to an individual based on aggregated information, including cookies, various device identifiers and feature usage data.
Adelphic's efforts to create solutions around cross-channel attribution “are embodied in the patent, which lets us identify ourselves as experts in this area and gives us a place to stand that we can defend,” said Adelphic CEO Michael Collins. He added that Adelphic is contemplating filing additional patents, though it’s not planning to pursue companies that are potentially infringing upon its intellectual property, nor is it licensing its existing patent.
Adelphic isn’t alone: Two of its competitors, Tapad and Drawbridge, have filed for patents around their respective cross-screen solutions. As companies secure their intellectual property rights, marketers may benefit from an eventual decrease in identical products. It also remains to be seen whether innovation will be stunted by a patent war if companies with deep pockets scoop up the majority of the technology patents.
In addition, Drawbridge COO Eric Rosenblum pointed out that even as competition heats up among vendors providing cross-channel ad targeting solutions, there is little consensus around the metrics for comparing the effectiveness of their products. Vendors also disagree whether cross-device ad-targeting standards are even necessary.
If a set of guidelines were to be introduced, “it is important to distinguish between metrics for measurement (which should be standardized) and methodologies (which is core IP and should be protected, but transparently, so that innovation can be accelerated),” Rosenblum said.
Given that different companies make various claims about their products, the standards should be based on “precision” and “reach,” according to Rosenblum.
“In other words, we are a firm believer that metrics need standardization and transparency,” Rosenblum added. “The underlying methodologies should also be transparent, but can be protected by patents.”