- A favored proposal to preserve targeted advertising is having trouble scaling.
- Industry trade group IAB Tech Lab declined to take on the administrative role for the solution, called UID 2.0.
- UID has some big adtech companies and publishers backing it, but other publishers have problems with it.
The most promising solution to preserve rich ad targeting and measurement, called the UID 2.0, is backed by a consortium of adtech companies including The Trade Desk and Magnite, and a handful of ad agencies like Omnicom, and publishers like The Washington Post.
And now, the industry trade group the IAB Tech Lab, which oversees UID, said it won’t take on the added technical administrator role for UID, as it was expected to do, “until wider industry adoption and evolution of the spec has been achieved.”
That decision indicates the UID doesn’t have enough scale, despite some heavy industry hitters backing it.
UID requires publishers’ audience data to work, and while some publishers have embraced it, other major ones like Gannett and The New York Times are wary of it because they don’t want to cede their audiences and their reader relationships to adtech companies. Some publishers have favored other IAB Tech Lab initiatives that they see as helping them drive revenue while giving them more control over their data, namely the new seller-defined audiences.
Without publisher data, advertisers will hesitate to use UID to buy and measure their campaigns. One major ad agency exec who’s used test budgets for ad campaigns built around UID said its adoption has been slower than hoped, but that it’s not meant to be a standalone targeting solution. Instead, this person projected it will be one of many used by the industry, but its effectiveness still needs to be tested. This person also theorized that ad industry members lost the sense of urgency to use UID after Google delayed plans to kill third-party ad targeting cookies and that publishers didn’t want to make the ad tech upgrades necessary to adopt UID, fearing it would disrupt their holiday profits.
IAB Tech Lab CEO Anthony Katsur didn’t have a hard goal that the UID, which it’s renamed the IAB Tech Lab Tokenization Framework, needs to hit for his group to become the technical administrator. “It’s more discussion-based and anecdotal than hard metrics-based — that we’re seeing major Comscore 100 publishers adopting it, and Fortune 500 brands adopting it,” he said. He said he also couldn’t think of another trade group that could serve in the administrator role.
Despite UID’s lack of scale, Katsur said the IAB Tech Lab would continue investing in the solution to mitigate publishers’ concerns.
Ad agencies are also lobbying for the UID. “The industry is currently working hard on driving drive higher adoption of UID 2.0 by publishers and ad tech vendors,” said Delphine Hernoux Chief, Wavemaker North America’s chief data and analytics officer.
Nor is The Trade Desk, which like other adtech companies stands to benefit from UID, giving up. On a Feb. 16 earnings call, CEO Jeff Green boasted “UID’s presence reached an all-time high in January, and we continue to grow rapidly outside the United States.”