Step in the Right Direction on Quest for Anonymous Universal ID (AUID)

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Cover image for  article: Step in the Right Direction on Quest for Anonymous Universal ID (AUID)

Recently here I wrote about my multi-decade Don Quixote effort to get the industry to establish an Anonymous Universal ID (AUID). More recently there have been several hopeful signs that the ideal state might not be as impossible as it has long seemed. P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard has recently written in favor of a universal ID to come into being before the third party cookies disappear. And the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has put out two white papers with a blueprint for the cross-platform measurement system that advertisers espouse in which the term SUMID (Secure Universal Measurement ID) is used, which is the same idea as AUID with a different name.

And now, TransUnion -- a company with a similar heritage to Experian in that the two companies along with Equifax are the three government bonded credit agencies in the U.S. -- having invested in the development of Tru Optik, has just announced acquisition of that company. This plays into the same direction as AUID and SUMID in that the established credit agencies excel in privacy protection, household census level maintenance, the compilation of a household's person-level and household-level demographic and other valuable data, and the ability to act as a safe harbor for matching with full privacy protection other data sets such as set top box and Smart TV viewing, purchase, digital ad exposure, store visit and other outcome data. However, the areas in which the credit agencies did not have as many relevant matching identifiers has been for things like mobile devices where most digital impressions are delivered today.

Tru Optik has established an ID graph that complements the TransUnion census with "householded" persons-level data on OTT/CTV viewing device-by-device in 80 million U.S. households -- virtually all of the OTT/CTV audience today. By fully joining forces these formerly two separate companies are making a bold move to the hoop and stand to make a strong contribution to making WFA's, Marc Pritchard's and my dream come true of having an AUID.

The other thing I like about TransUnion is their attitude and slogan "Information For Good," encapsulating the idea of a win/win that benefits the consumer and business at the same time, definitely the right philosophy, and more balanced than the axe-hewn privacy commandments edicted over the past few years, whose large fines and open-to-interpretation verbiage force marketers and media to lean so far in the direction of privacy protection that marketers have lost the ability to pick their program placements in most of OTT/CTV, now proven to be the highest ROI medium, and context effect having been amply proven worth leveraging.

This results from the 1998 Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA), which makes it a federal crime to reveal the program viewing preferences of any individual. In light of the penalties, this makes it appear risky for a publisher to pass program ID to the bidder even though it is tied to an anonymous non-PII ID with very little risk of reidentifiability. Hence the exclusion of program selection capability.

I have been advising my clients that there is a simple solution for this, which is a whitelist of programs the buyer wants his or her ad to appear in on your OTT/CTV network. One critical component to ensure that ads are not served with excessive frequency is for the entire supply chain to the use an industry standard ad identifier, like Ad-ID® in the U.S. If the seller agrees to this there is no need to pass the program ID to the bidder and the marketer is still able to gain the positive context effects of putting an ad into a program that has similar DriverTagsTM.

These subjects will be discussed at an upcoming Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) webinar on November 5 dedicated to Context Effects.

Congratulations to TransUnion and to Tru Optik, and to Marc Pritchard and the WFA/ANA for coming together to make the right things happen for the industry and the consumer.

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