As the Cookie Crumbles, IAB Tech Lab Pulls the Plug on DigiTrust

The trade org will cease the service's operations on July 31

IAB Tech Lab purchased DigiTrust in 2018.
Getty Images, IAB

IAB Tech Lab has announced it is shutting down DigiTrust, one of the forerunners to the various contemporary industry initiatives where ad-tech vendors collaborate to reduce the need for hundreds of software, or cookie, syncs any time an ad-supported webpage loads.

The nonprofit body was one of the first such initiatives in the space, later to be emulated—in spirit—by the Open ID Consortium, plus The Trade Desk’s ID initiative among others, and later came under the auspices of the IAB Tech Lab via a 2018 acquisition.

But as the online advertising industry prepares to move toward its next phase of development, as characterized by data privacy legislation such as GDPR and CCPA, and the much-touted “death of the cookie,” the trade org has decided to cease DigiTrust operations on July 31.

“Against the backdrop of increasing operational costs driven by broad publisher deployment, a simultaneous lack of proportional funding and impending changes to cookies (and device identifiers in general) that provide needed infrastructure, participants discussed all options and agreed to sunset the DigiTrust service,” according to a statement from IAB Tech Lab’s Benjamin Dick and Jordan Mitchell on its website.

DigiTrust’s initial aim was to encourage ad-tech providers, along with publishers, to align around tech requirements to produce a “pseudonymous consumer ID“—albeit cookie-based—that multiple parties could use, provided they agree to respect a consumer’s privacy choices.

However, its funding model never required publishers and advertisers to dig into their pockets. Instead, it asked ad-tech vendors to fund operational costs, and as the industry’s major web browser providers, such as Apple, Mozilla, and Google call time on cookies, Tech Lab has decided to do the same.

“While ID syncing among platforms continues, along with the economic and consumer benefits of shared ID services, industry platforms recognize that any service that relies on third-party cookies—including DigiTrust and other standardized cookie approaches—have a limited lifespan of utility,” according to the statement.

Dick and Mitchell’s statement goes on to advise publishers that have integrated with DigiTrust to remove all relevant code from their webpages by July 31, and the pair is eager to differentiate DigiTrust from its ongoing Project Rearc initiative announced earlier this year.

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