IAB Tech Lab Initiates Cross-Industry Open Source Initiative

At a time when the advertising ecosystem is beleaguered by privacy regulations and diminishing means of tracking individuals for the purpose of targeted advertising, here comes the IAB Tech Lab with an initiative to drive collaboration and transparency across the industry.

Currently, there are various open-source projects supported by ad tech companies and individuals, there hasn’t been a concerted industry-wide effort to organize and maintain relevant open source projects all in one place.

The Tech Lab’s Open Source Initiative will make the code and guidelines of ad tech projects — like UID 2’s Open Source ID framework, proof of concept libraries for implementing authenticated connections using Ads.cert, and brand suitability test benchmarks — available to everyone, all in one place.

The initiative will be governed by the IAB Tech Lab Architecture Group composed of Extreme Reach, GroupM, GumGum, Oracle, Tapad, and The Trade Desk. While anyone can contribute, for a proposal to be reviewed it must be formally submitted.

“Having open access to all pertinent information in one central location can be immensely beneficial for the industry,” said Neal Richter, Chairperson of the IAB Tech Lab. “The Open Source Initiative provides an opportunity to enhance collaboration and increase more adoption of standards and software solutions to help support the advertising industry needs.”

This kind of thinking is beginning to take root in the ad tech space. Back in March, I spoke with AdPushup’s Director of Publisher Development, Dikshant Joshi, about what the onslaught of ID solutions will mean for publishers’ ability to provide consumers with a consistent UX.

“In the same way, the winning ID solution should be open source, transparent, and neutral (not owned by any of the parties in the ecosystem) with the ability to crack the supply (publisher adoption) and demand (SSPs/DSPs adoption). Overall, when the ID solutions are married with Consent Management Platforms, that’s when targeting problems for advertisers and publishers will be solved without negatively impacting user experience,” he explained.

One of the main issues when it comes to exploring the adoption of any of the cookie replacements has been the lack of standardization. Housed on GitHub, the IAB’s initiative will provide actual standards implementations that can be directly integrated and tools to help deploy standards. As well, samples or reference standards will be shared to provide best practices.

If Chrome continues taking a stance against supporting cookie alternatives outside of the Privacy Sandbox, this IAB initiative will be just the thing that any real ID solution contender will need to survive. It also sounds like AdPushup’s Joshi was on to something — perhaps the future of advertising will be open-sourced after all.