New Target for the Ad Industry — Togetherness

The digital ad industry has many post-cookie options — the challenge is finding ways to make everything click, so to speak.

The pressure on the non-walled-garden media landscape is ramping up. That‘s not to say that Facebook didn‘t have another brutal week. There‘s a lot to unpack, so let‘s get into it.

Skeleton Key

One of the buzzwords of 2021 has been “interoperability.” With dozens upon dozens of identifiers and cookie replacement mechanisms in the works, unless one universal identifier wins, the industry needs all these pieces to work together.

Even as many companies have pledged to make their offering interoperable, IPG is out with a new product of its own: Kinesso Intelligent Identity, or Kii (pronounced key), which promises to help. Not only should Kii enable brands to reconcile targeting across the soon-to-be-cookieless web, but the tech also promises to work across walled gardens. Plus, Kii has an artificial intelligence layer that doesn‘t just connect data but also allows brands to optimize campaigns across multiple systems that speak their own languages.

Arun Kumar, CEO of Kinesso, told Adweek that Kii is designed to be malleable, allowing for inevitable ad targeting changes from regulators or other factors: “We call it ‘intelligent identity‘ because…there will be standards that emanate from the walled gardens and those that emanate from the open web. You need a technology solution that is able to integrate all of the approaches so that a client gets the benefit of all these different approaches.”

This sounds like a worthy attempt at order and simplification in this complex market. As Sarah Rose, Kinesso‘s SVP of international digital operations, told us, the more that the giant tech companies look to put up higher walls, “brands will be moving toward solutions that provide a full, robust tracking environment….” It makes sense, but given how competitive agencies are, we have to wonder: How long until all the other holding companies roll out their versions of Kii?

Post-Cookie Collaboration

As we talk about all these potential new identifiers, it‘s worth thinking through just how much digital advertising is set to change over the next two years. Ad Age has an excellent deep dive into what the post-cookie future will look like, but it doesn‘t paint the most optimistic picture: “Publisher revenue is really in jeopardy,” Orchid Richardson, senior VP, programmatic and data center, IAB, told Ad Age. Specifically, Richardson worries that publishers will miss out on revenue tied to audience targeting and third-party data and that more brands will shift dollars to the walled gardens. All the more reason for publishers to work together, educate brands and apply pressure as needed. Simplicity and unity seem key, and fragmentation is the enemy.

An Even Blacker Box?

Web publishers have long grumbled about advertisers‘ love affair with last-click attribution — i.e., when the last ad a person clicks on gets an inordinate amount of the credit. (Even if that person has been seeing TV ads for Lexuses for 20 years, LCA can make it look like a search ad did all the heavy lifting.) That‘s why so many have pushed for various multi-touch attribution products, which have had mixed success.

But there is one company that has done quite well with LCA — Google. So it stands to reason that the company that will fix things is — Google?

The search giant announced that it was moving away from LCA in its pricing models toward a more data-driven, intelligent approach that spreads the credit around for ad conversions more judiciously. How?

“Data-driven attribution is a live data model, so how the algorithm assigns credit will be different for every brand or campaign. The attribution scoring could change based on which sites or apps are contributing to conversions, or how consumer patterns change across browsers, apps and devices…,” reported AdExchanger.

This all sounds smart and sophisticated and, more importantly, fair. However, it may take some convincing for advertisers since this could feel like another instance of ceding control to an ad technology that isn‘t completely transparent.

Are You Kidding?

Facebook had another rough week. Not only did the company succumb to pressure to publicly release the infamous research slides featured in The Wall Street Journal‘s recent Facebook Files series, but Facebook was forced to pump the breaks on Instagram Kids, just as another report in the Journal revealed how Facebook was targeting younger users in a fashion that didn‘t exactly make leadership look they had the youth of America‘s best interests at heart.

None of this means huge changes are coming to Facebook‘s business tomorrow. But the drumbeat of scary-sounding news will surely lead to more attention for senators and the like — which could be good or bad for the rest of the digital ad ecosystem.

That‘s enough for this week. We‘ll see you soon.