- AppNexus, one of the founding members of the Advertising ID Consortium, has withdrawn from the initiative following its purchase by AT&T for $1.6 billion this summer, Adweek reported. The consortium, which formed last year, aims to create a more equitable digital advertising sector and help advertisers reduce their reliance on the duopoly of Facebook and Google. A spokesperson for AppNexus confirmed the withdrawal with Adweek. A rebrand of the integrated AppNexus/AT&T entity, internally referred to as AT&T AdCo, is expected later this month.
- AppNexus cutting ties highlights the struggles the consortium has faced in executing a common goal while individual members have such varied interests, Adweek suggested. AppNexus, Index Exchange, LiveIntent, LiveRamp and MediaMath initially pledged to create a framework to help with programmatic media buy execution using people-based targeting outside of the duopoly. However, MediaMath withdrew from the group last year due to the consortium's reliance on a single entity's user ID, LiveRamp's IdentityLink. The consortium has worked to address the issue by integrating the IAB Tech Lab's nonprofit DigiTrust, and plans to offer future integrations as well.
- The Advertising ID Consortium last week announced in a press release new measurement standards for companies using its targeted ID. Participating firms in the consortium include Criteo, OpenX, PubMatic, Thunder, IgnitionOne and AdRoll Group. Advertisers leveraging the group's targeting parameters can use these companies' campaign exposure data, tapping into either device- or people-based identifiers to gauge effectiveness, per Adweek. The consortium's first campaigns using people-based targeting are expected to launch early next year.
The loss of founding member AppNexus marks a perhaps expected but still heavy blow to the Advertising ID Consortium, which had previously lost participants like MediaMath. The news ultimately underpins the difficulties in competing with the duopoly, which controls the majority of the digital advertising market. Ad tech players all want to get a better leg up on Google and Facebook, but devising a truly unified strategy that benefits individual companies while also being equitably balanced is clearly tricky to pull off.
AT&T acquired AppNexus this summer as a key part of its strategy in building out a digital advertising business that could independently rival Google and Facebook, so its understandable why the telecom would pull the firm from a consortium of other potential competitors. AppNexus is a heavy hitter, operating one of of the biggest online ad exchanges. And unlike ad tech firms that help publishers manage ad space on websites, or others that help media buyers purchase ads, AppNexus handles both duties.
On the other hand, the reported AT&T AdCo division still has a hefty task ahead of it in putting a dent in Google and Facebook's ad business. The duopoly are together expected to command 57.7% of total U.S. digital ad revenue this year, according to recent eMarketer forecasts. That figure slipped from the 59.1% market share they controlled in 2017, however, the losses are largely due to the quickly accelerating influence of Amazon, which is now the No.3 digital ad revenue generator, beating Microsoft and Oath. Verizon's Oath ostensibly mirrors what AT&T is now trying to do with its AppNexus buy, but has struggled to take off, and recently lost CEO Tim Armstrong.
Even without AppNexus, the Advertising ID Consortium is pushing ahead on its people-based advertising proposition, which promises the type of true one-to-one, cross-channel digital marketing that has been a holy grail for the industry for years. The new measurement standard, which is supported by a wealth of campaign exposure data, could make an appealing draw for marketers interested in better tracking their campaign effectiveness.
"Brand marketers are taking a closer look at their digital advertising supply chain and are proactively choosing to only work with partners that prioritize quality and can solve real needs," Jason Fairchild, co-founder of OpenX, said in a statement around the news. "This new measurement solution will help quantify the value of open web inventory, and when evaluating who to work with, advertisers should look to partners that can offer this holistic view of measurement."