AppNexus’s new telco owner, AT&T, has withdrawn it from the Advertising ID Consortium, a shared industry cookie ID it co-founded last year, along with other independent ad tech platforms. Adweek first reported the move on Thursday.
Does the withdrawal spell curtains for the independent identity graph before it really got off the ground?
The consortium will now be helmed by LiveRamp, the only original founding member, and Index Exchange, which replaced MediaMath after it pulled out last year due to conflicts with LiveRamp’s IdentityLink product. LiveRamp is the only audience-targeting solution integrated with the consortium cookie pool, despite pledges last year that others would be forthcoming.
There are still 30 or so ad tech companies in the consortium, and its mission to improve match rates and tracking for non-walled garden inventory is still compelling.
But the loss of AppNexus is an ominous sign. For one thing, the shared cookie asset is built on the AppNexus domain, adnxs.com.
At launch, the arrangement made perfect sense; AppNexus was committing the most data and product resources, and its cookie pool was the largest to start with.
AppNexus hasn’t said it’s permanently closing the door on the consortium. The company told Adweek on Thursday it’s no longer participating because it is focused instead on the internal integration.
Still, the remaining members face the thorny problem of extracting consortium data from the AppNexus domain space and finding a new home for the ID, according to executives from five consortium participants who have worked on the product.
Furthermore, ongoing ad tech consolidation is likely to bring more disruption. For instance, LiveRamp is for sale and could be acquired by a walled garden company that would withdraw from the consortium initiative. Indeed, given the hard-to-predict M&A environment, no individual vendor would seem a sound repository for a shared, non-profit, open-web initiative.
What to do? Some parties, including previous consortium member MediaMath, have pushed to reset the product within DigiTrust, a cookie-sharing coalition
acquired by the IAB Tech Lab earlier this year. The Ad ID Consortium joined forces with Digi T rust in June, so it’s already contributing to that identifier.
“The Ad ID Consortium joining as a member of DigiTrust validated what we saw last year and still see: the need for neutral governance and a basic online ID not built on proprietary tech,” said John Slocum, VP of MediaMath’s data management platform.