Independent ad tech has had a tumultuous 2019, with the industry moving away from the free and easy flow of data that marked the early phases of the commercial internet. Much of these transitions have been motivated by increased public scrutiny.
Data prohibition has taken place in the form of legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation in the E.U. plus the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (among other draft laws) in the U.S.
The most immediately felt of these changes, though, is the response of tech platforms, with the such walled gardens as Apple, Facebook and Google (arguably the original targets of such regulations) already rolling up the drawbridge with independent ad tech, and publishers the first to feel the resulting financial chill.
In a bid to help ease these woes, several companies have unveiled point solutions in recent weeks, with LiveRamp, LiveIntent and The Trade Desk all attempting to underscore their efforts to ease the transition away from reliance on third-party cookies and data.
The latest company to do so is Index Exchange. CEO Andrew Casale is trumpeting the rebrand of its suite of publisher monetization tools from IX Wrapper to IX Library, an evolution meant to reflect a transition from point solution to a more rounded offering, ahead of next week’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.
IX Library comes with three standalone components, each of them geared towards helping publishers maximize their inventory, a process that has grown increasingly difficult in recent years. (For instance, many have linked the implementation of Apple Safari’s intelligent tracking prevention from 2017 with the spate of high-profile publisher cutbacks that came at the turn of 2018 and this year.)
Index’s Identity Library component includes a feature that integrates its own header bidding solution with a preexisting publisher solution. The new offering also features Wrapper Library, a managed service that similarly helps with header bidding setup and facilitates the use of Google Ad Manager, which also comes combined with Identity Library.
Additionally, the tool contains Custom Library, which lets publishers, especially self-service ones, adapt their audience monetization via audience and identity features.
“The challenge was that a lot of publishers had deployed their own solutions [since the launch of IX Wrapper], which created friction. What we recognized was that, much [in the way that Apple’s move to make] iTunes available on PCs helped with iPod-ownership growth, decoupling our products would put us in a position to grow market share,” Casale said.
“Formerly, for any publisher to use one of our identity solutions, it required them to use the IX Wrapper,” Casale said. “But today it can be deployed alongside any other header bidding solution, so that’s opened up a ton of choice.”
Casale further teased upcoming developments, including an extension to IX Library called Publisher Sonar, which Casale claims will help media owners navigate the shifting sands of ad tech, especially when the third-party cookie is looking to become redundant.
This builds on earlier tie-ups with identity providers such as LiveRamp, helping to “remove us from ID frameworks such as the brittle cookie” and away from the walled gardens, according to Casale.
Convincing media buyers to use such solutions, rather than the “safe bets” of Facebook and Google, will be a challenge. On this, Casale said that integrating seamlessly with existing buying tools is key.
“That’s why we have things like Matched Audiences, because you need to offer the marketer a way to purchase entirely people-based ad buys using people-based [solutions]—like a CRM file, the way they do with Facebook,” said Casale. “We want to change the paradigm where Facebook captures the majority of those dollars by offering advertisers the same functionality, but on the open web with premium publishers.”