As the digital ad industry is working through its existential identity crisis, Verizon Media is introducing an ad targeting offering that won’t require individual identifiers.
Called Next-Gen Solutions, Verizon Media’s new targeting and measurement offerings are like contextual advertising on steroids. The new product uses content and real-time signals like weather and device type to serve targeted ads to people when no traditional identifier, such as a third-party cookie or mobile ID, is available.
Ad-tech companies like Verizon Media, which has both buy- and sell-side offerings, are rapidly building alternative targeting solutions in the face of a drastically changing identity landscape. Google is nixing third-party cookies from its Chrome browser early next year, Apple is soon making its mobile ad ID, IDFAs, harder to collect and regulators at the state and federal levels are putting privacy at the forefront of digital advertising.
Verizon Media, which also owns publishers including Yahoo and TechCrunch, already has a universal identifier called ConnectID. It relies on first-party data collected from emails and other login information users provide to Verizon Media-owned properties.
The shift in targeting is not drastic, but the gap in measurement currently remains vast.Amanda Martin, Goodway Group
The two targeting products, ConnectID, and Next-Gen Solutions would give Verizon Media ways to serve targeted ads across the open web when there is and is not a user-ID present.
Google has also introduced its targeting alternative called FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), which is currently in test mode. Google organizes thousands of users according to browsing behavior and stores that identifier in the browser.
Verizon Media’s chief business officer Iván Markman said Next-Gen Solutions differs from FLoC because it doesn’t store user data or create user-level identifiers. Instead, the company is using its own first-party data to project user behavior when no identifier is available, then combining context with information like location to serve targeted ads in real time.
“This is not to say that identity-based advertising is disappearing,” Markman said. “Rather, that the landscape is changing with more and more media, audiences [and] environments becoming identity-less via IDFA [loss], legislation, browser updates and more.”
Amanda Martin, vp of enterprise partnerships at media agency Goodway Group, said the challenge for the ad-tech industry will be to build targeting solutions for “non-addressable inventory,” where a user ID like an IDFA isn’t present. She said Verizon Media’s products are worth exploring as part of a collection of other solutions, but the main focus will be finding a scalable solution with robust measurement capabilities.
“The marketplace previously controlled by intermediaries will now shift to publisher-controlled first-party data informed segments. Ultimately the shift in targeting is not drastic, but the gap in measurement currently remains vast,” Martin said.
Audiences created from Next-Gen Solutions, which will be accessible in Verizon Media’s demand-side platform, will be available in Q2. The company is rolling out Next-Gen measurement in Q4.