The open internet is the most powerful mechanism for free expression our world has ever seen. Anyone with access can share their point of view, their content and creativity, and today over 5 billion people around the world have widespread, free, access to information, entertainment, news, education and so much more. All because of a free and open internet.

I stood on the roof of Quantcast headquarters in San Francisco this week for our Virtual Nova event to announce a new and modern intelligent audience platform that empowers brands, agencies and publishers to thrive by being able to know and grow their audiences on the open internet. 

Thousands of people watched our global events in the span of 24 hours. I am humbled and proud to have been able to converse with some of our global customers including Australian Life Tech, Bustle Digital Group, Carat, Christie’s, CMC Markets, Equifax, Forbes, G-Star Raw, Hilton Hotels, IMVU, iProspect, Lloyds Bank Group, MediaCom, Microsoft, Reach plc, TD Bank, The Walt Disney Company and Wavemaker to talk about the future of advertising in 2021 and beyond. Essentially, the industry conversations centered around walled gardens, data privacy and the consumer, third party cookies going away, and what their wishes for our industry would be if they had a magic wand.  

And just down the peninsula (30 miles south of where I stood), Google was issuing a blog where they shared their views on the future of identity and advertising.

Google announced that they will not support a class of emerging identity solutions designed to operate in a post third-party cookie world (a major industry change itself originating from Google (with an assist from Apple)). These emerging approaches will be available outside of Google and this may be a boon for companies supporting them, but Google’s move further complicates the path ahead for publishers, brands and agencies and with it the ease with which advertising can be bought and sold on the open internet. And, let’s not forget that it is advertising that funds the vast majority of the content that billions of us around the world access freely. 

The same companies making the open internet harder to buy have a vested interest in their own walled gardens – Search, YouTube, app stores – gaining relative advantage. Their position may make it even more difficult for publishers, brands and agencies to reach their audiences.  Our position is that we need to help even more in providing an alternative to walled garden approaches.  We have the platform, live data, and machine learning capabilities to deliver outstanding outcomes that rival the tech giants and level the advertising playing field for brands, agencies and publishers on the open internet.

We do not believe there is a one-size-fits-all solution to identity and that is why in addition to innovating in building our own identity solution we are also participating in cross-industry initiatives such as the IAB Tech Lab’s Project Rearc and the W3C and will interoperate with emerging industry identity approaches such as UID2.0 and proprietary identity technologies from companies such as LiveRamp.

For all of us who support the vision of a vibrant, free and open internet it is time to come together. Yes, building new identity solutions as well as educating consumers on their data rights will require a lot of time, investment and effort.  But it is time well spent so that  consumers understand that they can influence the future of the free and open internet.  And as an industry, it is the path forward to building long lasting solutions that consumers can trust.