Post-Acquisition, AT&T Pulls AppNexus Participation From the Advertising ID Consortium

Meanwhile, consortium announces new measurement standard and plots Q4 launch

AppNexus was bought for $1.6 billion by AT&T.
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When it started last year, the Advertising ID Consortium promised to level the playing field in the digital advertising sector, amassing the support of  dozens of independent ad-tech companies eager to reduce advertisers’ reliance on “the duopoly.”

The rollout saw AppNexus, Index Exchange, LiveIntent, LiveRamp and MediaMath all pledge to create a standard framework to help advertisers execute programmatic media buys using “people-based targeting” outside of the walled gardens of Facebook and Google.

But since then, one of its founding members—AppNexus—was bought for $1.6 billion by AT&T, with the telco pulling support for the initiative in favor of directing resources toward the integration of the two entities.

This follows MediaMath’s withdrawal from the coalition last year, after concerns over the reliance of the consortium on a single entity’s user ID–LiveRamp’s IdentityLink. It’s an issue the consortium has since moved to address with the help of the IAB Tech Lab’s ingestion of nonprofit group DigiTrust, which has a similar anonymized offering with others. Other integrations are still to come in the near future, according to sources.

“AT&T advertising & analytics is no longer participating in the Advertising ID Consortium,” according to a statement sent to Adweek by an AppNexus spokesperson. “We believe in the Consortium’s goal of creating a better, more tailored user experience for consumers.”

However, with a rebrand of the soon-to-be integrated AppNexus/AT&T entity—currently known as “AT&T AdCo” internally—due early next week, the pair are “putting our focus toward the integration,” the statement added.

Sources approached by Adweek have not ruled out the eventual return and participation of AdCo to the Advertising ID Consortium, but the development indicates the difficulties of advancing such a goal by a group with disparate interests.

However, the remaining members—over 30 independent ad-tech companies—are still on board, with Index Exchange and LiveRamp chief among them, and have a formal Advertising ID legal entity primed for launch later in the year.

Consortium sources also claim the first campaigns based on its “people-based targeting offering” are expected in early 2019 with members also probing the interest of third-party verification providers, although supply- and demand-side outfits remain the priority.

The Advertising ID Consortium today also announced the cooperation of several companies to help with the introduction of new measurement standards for campaigns executed using the targeting ID. Participating companies in this arm of the venture now include Criteo, OpenX, PubMatic, Thunder, IgnitionOne and AdRoll Group.

This means that advertisers using the consortium’s targeting parameters can use the companies’ campaign exposure data, using device- or people-based identifiers to assess its effectiveness. Alternatively, marketers can use people-based ad serving technology to measure ad exposure directly from their own ad server to assess the effectiveness of their campaign.

The extent of advertisers’ reliance—or “over-reliance,” as some would state—was spelled out earlier in the year when Google announced it was to limit data-sharing of campaigns targeted using its DoubleClick ID as part of its GDPR-compliance rollout.

Subsequently, it is now much more difficult for many media buyers to assess the effectiveness of their campaigns and is a need the consortium hopes to capitalize on.

According to a press release announcing the latest standardization measures, “This [policy change] creates the need for an open, transparent standard that anyone can leverage to provide or access advertising exposure data.”

Jason Fairchild, co-founder, OpenX, added, “This new measurement solution will help quantify the value of open web inventory, and when evaluating who to work with, advertisers should look to partners that can offer this holistic view of measurement.”

In addition, it has also emerged that Thunder is the first operational ad server in the Advertising ID Consortium after having raised $6 million in funding from participating Advertising ID Consortium members.

Travis Clinger, vp of strategic partnerships for LiveRamp, described the introduction of the ad server to the tech stack as “breaking new ground,” as it could help advertisers conduct and measure campaigns using people-based IDs with enhanced protection from data leakage.

Victor Wong, CEO of Thunder Experience Cloud, added, “The consortium provides a new governance mechanism for the industry to promote the collective good and because it represent the majority of open Internet, it will be able to drive real change united behind these goals.”

@ronan_shields Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.