In the first and second blogs in this series, I’ve made the case for a “double layer” approach to authenticating identities on the open web. As we’ve seen, the approach means that the end of third-party cookies will not mean the end of programmatic digital advertising.
In its place will be a new privacy-first model that’s more trusted by consumers and which also enables the continued use of personalised digital advertising at scale. The model means that the all important ad-funded internet remains in business, and that in turn means we will all continue to benefit from access to high-quality, low-cost content.
However, throughout this discussion there has, by my own admission, been something of an elephant in the room. The proposed double-layer IDs rely on telco networks. As described, publishers would use telcos to verify audience IDs, across both authenticated and non-authenticated site visits. Telco networks would also be used to generate dynamic transaction IDs for audience transactions at an individual, per ad request level. So, the big question: why should telcos agree to this?
The first thing to note is that for many telcos the proposition won’t actually be that unfamiliar. Many already offer identity solutions to brands for a variety of purposes, such as the ID verification service offered by a group of telcos under the af2m banner or the GSMA’s Mobile Connect initiative, an identity service for ecommerce brands that’s now supported by 70 telcos.
Offering the sort of ID service I’ve outlined is in fact viewed by many carriers as an important new revenue stream. The GSMA’s figures suggest there’s a $7 billion opportunity in digital identity for operators by 2024. For years, telcos have had to sit by while over-the-top service providers ate their lunch. Now they have the opportunity to fight back, positioning themselves as the enablers of the open web. That’s no small thing.
What’s important from my perspective is that this new role is ideally suited to the current needs of the digital advertising world. Only telcos can identify returning visitors to websites and apps without logins and across devices, and only telcos can safely and compliantly activate first party data for brands. Telco-based identity verification is a solution that is perfectly suited to the needs of publishers and advertisers today, and as a result I have every confidence it will form the basis of the digital ad industry’s future.
With the loss of cookies the digital advertising model of the past will need to change. But I passionately believe that in-network dynamic transaction ID and verified IDs are the answer to the industry’s problems. And it’s a win-win for all. Subscribers will benefit from telco-grade transparency, consent control and security.
Brands will be able to leverage GDPR-compliant verification and audience segmentation at the scale they desire. And telcos will benefit from delivering an improved customer experience and an opportunity to take a leadership position in a complimentary industry. The end of cookies has cast a long shadow over the digital advertising industry, but at last there are clear signs of light up ahead.