There are two general methods for targeting consumers as they flit across desktops and devices: match various online log-ins and/or make educated guesses about an identity based on aggregated device characteristics.
All data-focused ad tech companies can do the former; some can do the latter as well. MediaMath, through its acquisition Thursday of French cross-device targeting company Tactads for an undisclosed sum, hopes to solidify its position in that second category.
Tactads is another piece of the puzzle for MediaMath’s ConnectedID, a technology the company has been developing since 2013. ConnectedID is designed to bridge the various signals MediaMath uses to target – gleaned from peoples' online and mobile activities – with the signals media companies, ad exchanges and advertisers use to reach consumers.
“The acquisition of Tactads provides one of the key inputs into ConnectedID – specifically powering MediaMath’s ability to recognize devices in cookieless environments – and also augments our cross-device association capabilities,” said MediaMath COO Ari Buchalter.
The Tactads technology is designed to perform probablistic matching across devices (i.e., it looks at clues coming from various devices, like mobile operating system, handset or tablet configuration and location, and determines which set of devices is used by the same individual).
While MediaMath is building most of ConnectedID in-house, it purchased Tactads to expedite development. Buchalter added he expects ConnectedID (with Tactads fully integrated) to be available in beta by Q3 2014.
MediaMath intends to fully combine Tactads with ConnectedID and, by extension, its marketing stack, TerminalOne. This means Tactads will no longer operate as an independent entity.
Just as a refresher, TerminalOne is built from a bunch of different components. It has tools designed to source and target media across channels; it has a data-management platform (DMP) for first-, second- and third-party data onboarding, segmentation and analysis; it has an ad server; it has learning algorithms to more intelligently serve messages over time; and it has an API layer to enable customization.
ConnectedID is the cross-channel/cross-device targeting capability MediaMath is building within its TerminalOne solution. “That solution will enable targeting, attribution and analytics across cookie and cookieless environments (including mobile Web and mobile app media), across browsers and across devices including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices,” Buchalter said.
MediaMath isn’t the only tech company gearing up for a cookieless environment. Adobe, for instance, told AdExchanger it’s looking to build probabilistic matching into its Marketing Cloud by enhancing its DMP AudienceManager. But even as cookies fall out of favor, especially in mobile environments, Buchalter doesn’t see them necessarily being replaced.
“We expect that large media companies, publishers, exchanges and others will develop valuable new signals that will be actionable within their own media environments,” he said.
This mirrors Acxiom CEO Scott Howe’s anticipation that the hundreds of thousands of cookies existing today will consolidate into “mega-cookies” developed by the media outlets and exchanges.
This is where Buchalter anticipates MediaMath’s ConnectedID will prove valuable. “The demand side will require technology that can bridge these signals – often from competing companies – to unify marketing efforts and enable holistic measurement across the entire digital media landscape,” he said.