Two months after the full roll-out of its Unified ID Solution, The Trade Desk is boasting match rates of up to 99 percent along with early trial partner Index Exchange as independent ad tech seeks to offer scaled targeting alternatives to the industry’s walled gardens.
The digital advertising industry is dominated by walled gardens, which are often criticized for their lack of transparency in terms of spend. But in recent years, independent players have sought to offer their own “neutral” alternatives that can help buyers.
The latest high-profile example has been an offering from The Trade Desk, whose market cap has soared as high as $6.5 billion this year, which publicly unveiled its Unified ID Solution in the early part of Q4 alongside a host of participating partners. This means the demand-side platform is now offering its extensive global cookie footprint at no cost to the wider digital advertising industry as a means of helping to improve audience matching.
Since adopting the unified ID solution, Index Exchange, one of the industry’s largest supply-side platforms, has seen match rates of up to 99 percent, compared to earlier rates that would typically be in the 70–80 percent bracket.
Index Exchange CEO Andrew Casale told Adweek, “This moves it into the stratosphere, which in the best test-case scenario we’re seeing is in the high 90s. Quite frankly, we’ve never seen this being possible before.”
Adoption of the free unified ID solution allows all parties across the supply chain (SSPs, DSPs and data providers) to utilize The Trade Desk’s sizeable cookie footprint to increase their own cookie coverage across the independent internet.
Casale told Adweek the pair agreed to the partnership in order to reduce the amount of cookie-synching needed to better match media buyers to their desired audiences, which would result in a better user experience.
He went on to describe how Index Exchange’s improvement in its match rates was technically possible due to the “fundamental paradigm change” using the Unified ID Solution.
Previously, Index Exchange would have to drop a pixel on a page before it could match with a platform. That pixel would return an ID, and then the next time an impression was generated, it would be able to match with that ID.
Additionally, companies have also signed up to receive the unified ID solution from the Index Exchange Header Tag Wrapper, a piece of software that can contain the details of various tech partners. These companies, many of which are seeing significant match rate lift, can ingest the ID into their marketplaces and distribute it to partners, including DSPs.
The Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green told Adweek that the implementation of the Unified ID Solution with Index’s header made it “economically irrational” for smaller DSPs not to use this ID going forward, as it improves their ability to match with desired audiences.
“When I say ‘our ID,’ I mean the collective ‘our’ because we gave it away,” he added. “And when Index adopts it and makes it a part of its header, it [then] makes it possible for any of the other players to ingest it.”
Many industry observers have interpreted the various “universal open internet IDs” as a zero-sum game but Casale, who was one of the architects of the Advertising ID Consortium, and Green both take issue with this interpretation.
Green went on to label those who would label the Unified ID Solution as a Trade Desk-owned play as a “bogus narrative,” adding that his company was attempting to use its scale to further buoy the interests of all independent ad tech.
“This is not an attempt for us to rule the internet,” he told Adweek. “The fact that we’ve given this away for free is only possible because we are making money—because it does cost serious money to operate—and it is the reason why we think it’s likely the best chance to consolidate.”
Casale added, “There’s this narrative that’s been out there in the ether for some time about these dueling initiatives, but the reality is that we’ve been trying to rationalize them for some time so that they can help each other.”
“The design lends itself [of the arrangement between the pair] to allow The Trade Desk to now return not just one ID back but any number of IDs back,” Casale continued. “That was never possible in the past, but that was central to the Ad ID Consortium overall design matrix. It’s not live today, but we are on the path to realizing that.”