1. IAB Lab exec floats ideas for a neutral, ‘publicly owned’ single identifier’ for sharing user data with permission
A former ad-tech industry executive who now works at the IAB Tech Lab is floating an idea for industry collaboration around a “neutral” governed “single identifier” to replace third-party cookies as a mechanism for serving targeted advertising. He says such a mechanism should be “publicly owned.”
“We propose standardized privacy settings and consumer controls tied to a neutral, standardized identifier,” writes Jordan Mitchell, senior vice president, membership and operations at IAB Tech Lab, in a lengthy Sept. 4, blog post that summarizes the failed privacy history of third-party cookies. His post is entitled: “The Evolution of the Internet, Identity, Privacy and Tracking – How Cookies and Tracking Exploded, and Why We Need New Standards for Consumer Privacy.”
Mitchell joined Tech Lab a couple of years ago from an ad-tech-industry association called DigiTrust which he helped form while being paid by Rubicon, an ad-tech company. DigiTrust sought to develop a single, first-party cookie, owned by the ad-tech industry, that would eliminate the need for third-party cookie matching. A goal was to reduce the dozens of third-party cookie calls to websites, slowing them down and annoying users. The idea did not catch on with publishers, and DigiTrust was acquired by IAB Tech Lab.
Mitchell’s new proposal, as he outlines in his Sept. 4 post, acknowledges the need to find a trustworthy approach that is consistent with emerging government regulation, respects user privacy signals, and is supported by publishers as well as technology companies. He writes that standards should “be set up as public utilities” governed jointly by the digital media and marketing industries.
“We’re calling for a centralized mechanism so that you can convey your preferences and all parties…can respect those preferences,” Mitchell wrote. CNET’s Stephen Shankland reported the technology would be jointly developed by advertisers, publishers, browser makers and privacy advocates and submitted to standards bodies.
Mitchell’s post continues: “Eliminating cookies today without an adequate, planned transition to a new, publicly-owned mechanism for recording and honoring consumer preferences will disenfranchise millions of independent businesses, entrepreneurs, influencers, and individual communicators, and concentrate control of the internet with four or five giant technology companies.”
TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha picked up on Mitchell’s IAB post and wrote in his story, entitled, “IAB proposes a new tracking alternative to the cookie,” that Mitchell realizes a single-identifier network would have to have governed privacy standards and, Mitchell said, “these standards be set up as public utilities, subject to regulations promulgated by government entities, with the digital media and marketing industries jointly governing the standards with the browser providers.”
Ha’s story quoted Brendan Eich, CEO of ad-blocking browser company Brave, as tweeting “who’re they kidding” if the single identifier can match to an individual. Eich suggested looking at a 2013 proposal by Mozilla — when he was CTO there — that called for a different identity hash for each website, tied to a common identity at one location.
Mitchell told the CNET interviewer: “Who’s going to trust the [ad] industry [to] come save the day? No one. We recognize we need to show accountability and reliability to the preferences set by consumers.”