ad tech news roundup

Ad Tech News Roundup – February 2021

Sortable News

At Sortable, when we come across news articles that impact our industry and other publishers, we share them with each other and chat about the implications. In order to expand the discussion, we want to share these articles with you and give our opinions on what we think it means for Ad Tech. Our hope is to create a dialogue around these articles and really dig into what each of them mean for our industry.

This month, we have Mark Dixon, a Product Manager at Sortable, offering his take on the following industry articles: will operate Unified ID 2.0 and make sure it remains open source | AdExchanger

Right from the start, when The Trade Desk first announced that they were developing Unified ID 2.0, the intention to make the solution open source has always been clear. As an independent, open-source community already developing and maintaining solutions for client and server-side header bidding, is a natural fit for taking over operation of Unified ID 2.0 as a truly open-source, community-owned solution to combat the impending demise of third-party cookies.

Mark’s take

As members of, we’re excited about what this means for Sortable, our publishers, and the viability of the open web in a post-third party cookie world. The need for alternatives to the walled gardens has never been greater, and we’re seeing companies come together around Prebid to create meaningful solutions that truly reflect the context of privacy in a user’s relationship with publishers and brands.

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Sortable pledges support for buyers.json proposal

IAB standards like ads.txt and sellers.json have helped provide transparency for buyers into the supply path for digital advertising impressions. However, that same transparency has yet to be applied in both directions, leaving publishers and their ad tech partners with little insight into what advertisers have access to their inventory. This makes it extremely challenging for publishers to protect their users and prevent malicious, fraudulent, or otherwise unwanted ads from appearing on their sites.

Confiant (Sortable’s ad quality partner) has led a push for industry adoption of buyers.json, a parallel concept to sellers.json, which would provide the needed transparency. Sortable was among the first companies to pledge support for this initiative, which continues to gain traction across the industry.

Mark’s take

For far too long, publishers have had to struggle with trade-off decisions between driving revenue and protecting users on their sites, which can be a major strain on resources and ultimately impacts profitability. It’s crucial that publishers be able to get better insights into where ads are coming from and shut down bad actors, especially with UX metrics impacting search rankings, and with privacy and identity developments highlighting the need to maintain trust with users.

District M & Sharethrough to Merge & Magnite to Acquire SpotX

As Magnite CEO Michael Barrett explained it, “We’re in the midst of supply path optimization, and that’s just a fancy word for consolidation. Marketers and publishers want to work with fewer, more trusted folks.” 

Magnite, formed by the merger of Rubicon Project and Telaria last year, solidifies their position as an industry leader with the purchase of SpotX for $1.17 billion. That’s especially true for video, with Magnite’s post-acquisition revenue expected to be 67% video, and 40% from CTV specifically.

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Meanwhile, District M and Sharethrough merging to form a single exchange on Sharethrough’s platform makes the combined entity the “fourth-largest, independent, private exchange”, according to Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg. 

Mark’s take

We’ve been expecting industry consolidation for some time, and with a fairly hot ad tech market right now, we are seeing that with SSPs jockeying for position in supply path optimization. These trends should signal that publishers can benefit more from strengthening and optimizing partnerships with the SSPs that can best support their business, rather than taking a spray and pray approach to sending out inventory through as many providers as possible.

Google will not support alternative identifiers to track users


While it wasn’t from February, we’re sneaking in an important privacy and identity update. Google’s March 3 blog post stirred up plenty of industry conversation by clarifying Google’s position about alternative identity-based tracking solutions. Google intends to move forward supporting only cohort-based targeting, and believes attempts to track individuals across the web (including solutions based on PII such as emails) won’t be sustainable in the face of evolving regulatory restrictions. 

Mark’s take

Google stating intentions to support cohorts rather than individual tracking should not come as a surprise to anyone. However, what’s not addressed here is the privacy concerns that some have raised about a cohort-based solution, or the perception that Google would stand to benefit the most from being able to act on their own first-party user data, while severely restricting the ability of advertisers and publishers to do the same. If independent Ad Tech can satisfy the concerns of privacy regulators with transparent standards and practices, there may be a better path than obfuscated cohorts and Google acting as gatekeeper for the internet.

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For more reactions:

AdExchanger: Google’s Message To The Ad Industry: We Won’t Build Our Own Third-Party Cookie Alternatives (And We Don’t Want You To Either) 

Liveramp: Google Clarifies its Plans for Targeted Advertising | Addressability 

Other helpful pieces on understanding identity-related ecosystem changes:

When Cookies Go Away, Is There Life Beyond The Login? 

Understanding The Privacy Sandbox In 12 Minutes 

Disclaimer: All views expressed in this blog are Sortable employee’s or other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Sortable or Sortable’s product/product roadmap.