The media sector is bracing for a reckoning over how the ad industry uses personal data, which has prompted a wave of privacy regulations that are severely testing all but the industry’s biggest names.
Developments in the first half of 2020 appear to validate this thesis, with the California Consumer Privacy Act taking effect in January and enforcement beginning this month. But more critical for ad tech at the moment are the corresponding policies of the industry’s biggest platforms.
In January, Google confirmed it will cease supporting third-party cookies—ad tech’s common currency—by 2022, and Apple continued its privacy-focused onslaught on digital advertising with its upcoming iOS 14, which has enhanced features such as hiding your precise location in favor of a more general area.
Some believe Apple could significantly harm the $45 billion in-app advertising economy, while others note that Cupertino’s global footprint could make the rollout more impactful than laws such as CCPA.
In true Apple fashion, the exact implications for iOS 14, which requires app developers to seek consent from device owners in order for third parties to access their data, are unclear, although some see it as an opportunity.
So long, static identifiers
Kochava, an analytics provider specializing in the in-app space, is one such player, and has today launched a solution it claims will comply with the increasingly fragmented privacy policies of major industry platforms.
Dubbed Kochava IdentityLocker, the system proposes using “identity tokens”—instead of static identifiers such as a third-party cookie—that partners, such as publishers or media buyers, can then use to target ads.
For instance, once an app developer gains consent from a user to share data with certain parties, it can onboard and upload that data to IdentityLocker.
In return, the user receives an identity token, which can then be used in conjunction with any other player in the ecosystem to enable performance measurement.
Additionally, ad-tech players such as demand-side and supply-side platforms can take part in the offering by uploading that data to interact with their media trading partners.
Charles Manning, CEO of Kochava, explained to Adweek that this acts as a “translation layer” to help connect the relevant players using Kochava’s mobile-first data marketplace, which spans 8 billion devices.
Effectively, with IdentityLocker, Manning has positioned his company as a potential nexus where first-party data from advertisers and publishers can be “intermingled,” assuming the user has given the requisite permission.
“Identity is really about bringing together these different data points of users,” he said. “By having an identity locker, you have the potential to have all these kinds of first-party identity views, which means everything is a token, not a static ID,” he added.
According to Manning, additional benefits of this approach include the potential to resolve audience targeting and attributing which ads drove which interactions across platforms spanning Android, iOS, CTV, desktop, gaming consoles and more.
“The problem with static IDs is that they are different in desktop display [ads] than they are for connected TV or mobile. But with common keys, you can resolve identity,” Manning said.