Finding A Solution: Universal IDs Vs. Proprietary IDs

04/05/2019 - I started in ad operations in 2004. There was no video pre-roll or mobile advertising, and we were eight years away from viewability. I worked at an ad network, and one of our daily missions was to find inappropriate ads from our ad network running on a partner website.

We would be sent a screenshot from a website and it would be our job to find that ad.

Sometimes, multiple ads were running through one tag, all for different companies. Sometimes, creative assets or ad tags were mislabeled. Usually, we wouldn’t find it. Occasionally, we somehow stumbled across the offending ad.

Here we are, 15 years later, and we still don’t have a way to identify creative assets. As our supply chain becomes more complex, there is more of a need to identify all creative assets — no matter how many hands it touches.

Right now, there are unique proprietary IDs that float around the supply chain; an ID from the third-party ad server, an ID from the advertiser-side verification, an ID from the publisher-side ad server, an ID from the demand-side platform, the server side platform, and other vendors thrown into the mix.

They are unique IDs to their specific system. The problem is that these IDs have no relation to each other and are not unique outside of their own system. Basically, these systems all speak different languages, and they only understand their own.

The best example of the need for a universal ID comes from the packaged-goods industry.

They use the UPC code as their universal ID. This means if the UPC code 0044000032197 is scanned by anyone, it uniquely identifies Chips Ahoy! Original Cookies. Translating that into the advertising industry, Ad-ID is a unique code that identifies the creative asset no matter where it travels in the entire advertising ecosystem.

That means if the same ad runs on TV, OTT, digital pre or mid-roll, it will have the same Ad-ID. If Ad-IDs were always used, no matter who received the video ad with Ad-ID ABCD1234567H, they would know it was a video ad for Chips Ahoy! Original Cookies.  

When VAST 4 was introduced, it included a Universal Ad ID node. The expectation is that VAST 4.2, which will be released by the IAB within the coming weeks, will be adopted because of its versatility. With the rise of OTT ad buys, true cross-platform buys, and programmatic video becoming more popular, this is the perfect opportunity to give Ad-ID a try.

What would a workflow look like with Ad-ID?

Basically, the same as it does now, only with more insights into the creatives. The addition of a universal Ad-ID allows all parts of the ecosystem to see the creative, know the correct creative is actually running, have more control over ad collision and frequency capping, and better performance reporting.

So, here we are, in 2019, and it’s time to clean up the supply chain. We have the opportunity to fix our past mistakes and make the workflow easier for everyone. Ad-ID is a pretty easy solution to a problem made too complex.

Beth Frutkin

Manager, Supply Chain Activities