Amazon recently announced that they will offer a marketplace to connect publishers and adtech partners to make ID-based advertising easier. When I saw this half-baked announcement, my immediate thought was around match rates. With typical match rates in the 30% range, it’s possible that this issue alone might mean that the concept is a non-starter for many brands and publishers.
I suspect many brands see this kind of announcement and are unsure what to make of it. Amazon is a fantastic media partner with incredible data. Surely if they create an ID-friendly marketplace, it will be good for brands. However, Amazon, like Google and other huge companies are making ID-oriented announcements way too early in the game in hopes of attracting brands.
The walled gardens are essentially in the middle of their own land grab. What brands need is a guide to help them ask smart questions so that they can make the right choices.
Focus on a use case
As someone who is fiercely committed to open and transparent digital advertising, I see the walled garden announcements and get protective of brands and publishers. Many are starting to make choices and partnerships before they really know what they need. I had an RFP call the other day for a “data clean room” and it was clear that the brand team making the inquiry was not even sure of their use case yet.
This is a dangerous approach. Yes, more companies are choosing data clean room providers. No, choosing a data clean room provider early in the game does not make life easier. The same goes for the ID solutions offered by the mega-tech companies. Brands and publishers should be all ears, but only as to inform their own use case that they can use to ultimately design their approach when they are ready.
For example, we find that most advertisers are ok with sharing their CRM data and need an interoperability data connectivity layer that can connect to multiple data clean rooms in order to do that safely. Another key necessity for brands is identity resolution for first party data to create a more scalable persistent internal ID that can be married to other data.
Assess the limitations
Today, IDs are still new and rife with limitations. Many new concepts being thrown around are not focused on the limitations, which can back brands into a corner unintentionally. Every partnership, data provider, and tech company should be assessed based not only on their innovation, but on the elements that will inhibit the solution from working at scale.
Here are the most common issues I see in today’s ID ecosystem:
- Interoperability: Solutions don’t always talk to each other. Data doesn’t always flow the way it needs to. Measurement might not be possible the way brands need it to work. The beauty of third party cookies is that they work universally across the ecosystem. That’s not currently the case for ID-based offerings.
- Addressability: This can also be thought of as scale. Brands need to understand how much of their audience they will ultimately be able to reach via a partner, publisher or technology.
- Match rates: One of the scale limitations to be particularly wary of are match rates. Different data sets don’t always align well. For a brand with their own data or ID graph, it’s important to not only know what the match rates are with a partner, but have some level of collaboration to continually improve match rates.
- Data transparency: Walled gardens in particular make brands and publishers sacrifice insights in order to access their audiences. This might be too hard of a bargain in some cases, especially early on when it’s important to test and learn along the way.
Get started anyway — but carefully
Despite the land grab, despite the fact that none of Google’s products are actually working yet, brands are already getting started on their test phase. That’s fine, as the market is moving quickly.
However, brands need to be careful not to build too early and get stuck. Not only do they have the media budgets, they have their own data. This means they need to build technical partnerships in order to run ID-based campaigns at scale. Media budgets can be shifted more easily than data. The companies that woo brands early will have the advantage of having technology in place that is expensive to rip up.
This is where smart choices around data clean rooms, ID strategies and measurement can help. Asking smart questions now will guarantee fewer bad choices later.
Nancy Marzouk is the CEO of US-based identity platform creator MediaWallah