The Interactive Advertising Bureau has unveiled Project ReArc, intended to help the $100 billion digital advertising industry overcome growing challenges to how it uses data to target consumers.
The initiative would require brands, agencies and ad tech players to collaborate on a universal login that would allow consumers to both manage privacy settings and allow media buyers to target them with ads. The proposal comes as the industry faces new data privacy regulations and the demise of third-party cookies, and is similar to NetID, which Germany rolled out nearly two years ago.
Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the IAB, unveiled the ambitious project late Monday during the trade body’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, California. “We are at an inflection point,” Rothenberg told attendees during his keynote, referring to Google's decision to eliminate third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by 2022.
“The death of the third-party cookie has been bearing down on us like a freight train for years,” Rothenberg said. “How is it we tethered the future of marketing and media to such a slight and imperfect technology?”
The IAB is asking members to devise a solution before Google's 2022 deadline. In the meantime, the IAB suggests Project ReArc could use a person’s email address or phone number as an identifier that’s shared through the digital ad supply chain. The login would work across thousands of websites, meaning people won’t have to sign in each time they visit a new domain. A user would also be able to manage privacy settings through Project ReArc, the IAB says.
Still, some fear publishers will ultimately make people log in, imposing a limit on access to content, says Michael Connolly, CEO of Sonobi, a technology company that helps publishers sell digital advertising through automation. Another big hurdle for Project ReArc is changing user behavior so they create and use an account, according to Connolly.
“Not everyone reads Ad Age or the Wall Street Journal,” Connolly says. “They’re not up to speed about what’s going on, or what a third-party cookie even is.”
Connolly, who worked with the IAB on Project ReArc, adds: “A couple hundred million people will have to get in on this change and the only way that works is if publishers coordinate with each other.”
Nancy Smith, president and CEO of Analytic Partners, says Project ReArc is “a tall order and a challenging task that will require strong numbers to gain traction.”
Smith points out that every brand is looking to harmonize the value exchange of delivering privacy and personalization. “Brands are looking at ways to monetize through connecting with Google given their footprint,” she says.
“The outstanding question is will the big brands and publishers be the winners because they have the greatest communities in this new world of shrinking data,” Smith adds. “And if they are, what does that mean to the smaller brands and players?”