OpenX Deal Library Makes Testing Cookieless Targeting Easier for Buyers

With cookie deprecation looming, buy-side testing to compare cookieless solutions is low

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As buyers spend the next few months figuring out how to accelerate testing alternative identifiers before third-party cookies deprecate, OpenX wants to make it a whole lot easier.

The supply-side platform’s Cookieless Deal Library, launching Thursday, is a self-serve tool that lets buyers access more than 1,000 different deal IDs (from dozens of data providers and alt ID solutions) that build toward different cookieless solutions. The aim is for buyers to easily benchmark effectiveness while third-party cookies are still in play.

“We have been heavily focused on supply-side targeting in the past,” said Matt Sattel, senior vice president of buyer development at OpenX. “This platform lets other data providers use our pipes to pass deals. We have had a lot of these integrations over the years through our work around data, supply-side targeting and identity.”

In the library, buyers can use keywords to search and access pre-built deals powered by alternative identifiers (like ID5 and LiveRamp), attention deals (powered by firms like Adelaide and Oracle Moat), contextual deals, (powered by firms like Audigent’s Contextual PMPs and Captify) Privacy Sandbox Topics deals, first-party data deals and others.

Without needing any minimum spend, agency trading teams can select and compare different solutions. That could be using Topics to target international users in the auto and cehicles category across desktop and mobile with a banner ad, or using Audigent’s contextual product to reach users looking at travel-focused content in the U.S. across web and applications with a video ad. Once selected, the OpenX team is notified and passes the deal ID directly to the demand-side platform. It will also add more providers.

Testing paralysis

The slow increase in testing has meant that publisher adoption of external IDs has grown by roughly 17% since the start of October, according to OpenX, while 80% of publishers send one or more external IDs (caveat: This is early data changing often).

Major holding companies and independent agencies requested direct access to cookieless targeting solutions, said OpenX, but most don’t know where to start.

And it’s easy to see why. The targeting options for cookieless inventory have sprawled into a jumbled mess. Prohaska Consulting counts nearly 100 global potential identity partners in its most recent list.

“The ability to transact cookieless is where we need to be going, but we need to start experimenting immediately,” said Jennifer Scheel, executive vp and head of programmatic at Dentsu, which has worked with OpenX on its OpenAudience platform, launched in 2019, and has previewed the Cookieless Deal Library.

Differentiating with alt IDs

SSPs have been proving their value by adding curation and audience data to enrich inventory. IDs and targeting have been moving to the sell side, since the publishers are those with the relationship with people to get consent, putting SSPs like OpenX—working with more than 130,000 premium publisher domains—in a beneficial position.

“It’s a good opportunity for SSPs to become more influential,” said Matthew McIntyre, global head of programmatic at EssenceMediacom. “They have the view of what is in the request, they can see all the connections and signals, and they then can use machine learning or curation to find the right inventory, which is powerful.”

The negative, he added, is that getting busy agencies to use a library proactively could be difficult.

There are so many third-party cookies buried in the backend of different solutions that performance testing is going to be hard to fully rely upon.

Loch Rose, chief analytics officer at Epsilon

To be sure, there are plenty of marketplaces from SSPs that include data-enriched inventory (other flavors include Index Exchange’s recent Marketplaces) and libraries where buyers can activate deal IDs on evergreen campaigns.

“[The library is] unique because we will be having detailed conversations on benchmarking with buyers and trying to drive feedback in the market,” said Sattel. Detail on the effectiveness of alt IDs, especially the new ones, is scant.

“That’s where this library hopefully will have better success [than former libraries], which have been more of a build-it-and-they-will-come mentality,” said Scheel. “It comes down to what is necessary to meet your client’s needs.”

Saving time, testing Topics

To run tests on the effectiveness of cookieless IDs outside of OpenX’s library, buyers need separate conversations with SSPs and providers. Any data-sharing agreement that’s needed requires significantly longer time, consuming legal teams, said Scheel, who estimates that the library is saving up to five hours of trading teams’ time.

One bonus with the library is that Google Privacy Sandbox Topics segments are available for buyers to target in any DSP, including those that aren’t currently supporting that technology, (hi, DV360).

But testing while cookies are still in play, which is important for comparison’s sake, could add unwanted noise.

Many current cookieless solutions are significantly improved by third-party cookies. For some of the solutions, an estimated 90% of their IDs seen in the bid stream today are based on third-party cookies.

“There are so many third-party cookies buried in the backend of different solutions that performance testing is going to be hard to fully rely upon,” said Loch Rose, chief analytics officer at Epsilon.

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