Tapad’s Switchboard Aims to Unify Fragmented Identity Solutions

The ongoing deprecation of the third-party cookie has marketers worrying about how they will track Internet users and serve them tailor-made ads. But the problem is not just the growing impossibility of tracking. It’s that in lieu of the cookie, ad tech firms are proposing a slew of disparate solutions. To solve that issue, Tapid launched Switchboard this morning.

Tapad says Switchboard will help unify fragmented post-cookie identity solutions by “connecting new cookieless identifiers to traditional digital IDs for a comprehensive view of consumers and their digital touchpoints.”

Some of the digital solutions Switchboard will bring together are Unified ID 2.0, ID5, Lotame Panorama ID, BritePool, Retargetly IDx, and Audigent Halo ID. Partners include The Trade Desk, Amobee, Martin, ShareThis, Eyeota, and Catalina. 

The problem

Third-party cookies are tracking devices linked to browsers. They are third-party cookies (as opposed to, say, first-party) if they allow a company to track users across sites the company itself does not own.

Safari and Firefox eliminated third-party cookies. Google has said it will do so by January 2022 and is proposing alternatives. This comes as states add data privacy laws and digital denizens become more aware of the surveillance economy.

But the deprecation of third-party cookies means advertisers need new tracking solutions. What’s more, they need to be able to integrate these solutions, or the data they provide, to get a unified view of consumers.

Enter Tapad’s Switchboard.

Switchboard’s promise of integration

Switchboard works by connecting the new in tracking tech with the old and each generation’s solutions with each other. Older solutions include cookies, mobile ad IDs, and CTV.

“Today, marketers may partner with several identity vendors for different use cases like targeting and attribution,” says Mark Connon, general manager of Tapad. “Switchboard will enable all of those use cases by providing a connection between the cookieless IDs that these identity vendors are creating prior to the deprecation of the third-party cookie.”

Agencies, ad tech firms, measurement providers, and brands may benefit from the solution.

Differentiating Switchboard

Lots of ad tech firms are surfacing their own tracking solutions for the post-cookie Web. Tapad says Switchboard is a smart play because it brings those solutions together instead of throwing another hat in a crowded ring.

“Most identity providers are building cookieless IDs or authenticated ID solutions, so our approach was intentional,” Connon said. “We wanted to facilitate a collaborative effort to close [the] gap, rather than market a cookieless solution of our own.”

Is it privacy-safe?

Tapad says it has always followed privacy best practices. The company added that legislation such as GDPR and CCPA only forced it to bolster its game.

Still, the glut of post-cookie tracking and identity solutions shows the cookie’s death is not the end for tracking online. Surveillance may be getting more consensual. It’s also getting more fragmented and sophisticated.

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Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He joined Street Fight as a contributing writer in 2015, has compiled the daily newsletter since 2016, and has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Shoot him an email at jzappa@streetfightmag.com.
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