The advertising ecosystem needs to work collaboratively so independent publishers and app developers can make money online, outside the walls of Google and Facebook, argues the technology chief of advertising technology company Rubicon Project.

“The independent advertising community is about finding ways for independent publishers and independent application developers to make money,” says Tom Kershaw, Chief Technology Officer of Rubicon Project.

“We need new forms of content, we need new technologies and we need new ways of doing things.”

At the top of the to-do list should be standardising identity.

“We absolutely have to change our identity model in this industry or someone will change it for us,” Kershaw said during a recent media roundtable in Sydney.

“Putting hundreds of third party identifiers on pages is not okay, and we have to stop it. Either regulators will force us to do it or we’ll come up with a way to do it ourselves.”

The world is becoming increasingly hostile to third party trackers, with both regulators and tech giants like Apple’s Safari and Google Chrome signalling their intention to limit the efficacy of third party cookies.

Kershaw said over the next few years the industry needs to stop trying to use identity as a competitive differentiator and standardise ID across the ecosystem.

“We have to treat identity as community property to be safeguarded and protected. As part of that, I think we have to move towards better ways of placing the ads on the page, using context more effectively, using first party identifiers, using device IDs, but in general, the consumer needs to be front and centre of this problem.”

“No more squirrelly ways of ID-ing people, no more third party cookies on pages and no more formats that users hate.”

Rubicon Project describes itself as a digital advertising infrastructure company on a mission to automate buying and selling for the global online advertising industry. As an independent global exchange, the company is often in direct competition with Google and Facebook.

Kershaw said inefficiencies in the industry just make it easier for Google and Facebook to hoover up more ad dollars.

He noted that five years ago there was an adversarial relationship between supply side and demand side.

“The goal of each was to game the other, to find ways to juice CPMs if you’re on the sell side and buy cheap inventory if you’re on the buy side … that just makes it much easier for agencies to just default everything to Google or Facebook,” he said.

“What we needed to do was to work together to evolve buy-side tools, to be consultative, try to make everything work because that’s the only way that the independent community survives and thrives is if it works together.”

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