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Media Adtech Brand Safety

Why Meitu believes in Unified ID 2.0


By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

June 9, 2021 | 7 min read

As marketers seek a common currency for digital advertising including mobile advertising, they are keen to allow consumers to retain transparency and control, with the ability to opt out. Chinese technology company Meitu explains why it has joined the Unified ID 2.0 initiative.

Brands are starting to show they want to move away from the walled gardens – either due to the regulatory scrutiny they are coming under, or because they disagree with the level of privacy and business practices.

Chinese technology company Meitu has become the latest publisher to join the Unified ID 2.0 marketplace as it seeks to maintain user privacy and help advertisers make the most of its first-party data.

Cyrion Wang, head of programmatic, Meitu, says the company was encouraged by the support Unified ID 2.0 has already had across the entire ecosystem.

He feels Unified ID 2.0 has the potential to not only enhance Meitu’s targeting precision, but also allow its users to experience relevant advertising.

“For our advertisers, Unified ID 2.0 operates across advertising channels including mobile, audio, browsers, OTT/TV apps and devices with a single ID. This is critical as they look to understand their audiences on Meitu and across other platforms, while creating a better standard that gives consumers greater transparency and control,” he explains.

“As a publisher, it was important for us to continue to generate as much revenue as possible, and solutions like Unified ID 2.0 continue to keep that function going for us.”

For another publisher, the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the Alibaba-owned company believes the user-level controls of Unified ID 2.0 are great to see and the ability to use opted-in IDs across the network means buyers may be able to access a complete feature set of ID ideals.

However, Ian Hocking, vice president of digital at SCMP, notes the scale may prove to be the Achilles heel of this project as global opt-in rates for tracking are uniformly low.

"The Trade Desk is said to be hoping for 15-20% coverage, whilst changes to Apple's tracking that require a user to opt-in is currently at c.4%. It is already talking about Unified ID 2.0 as just one solution that would be used in conjunction with multiple IDs in order to scale a buy via its platform," explains Hocking.

"This fragmentation is far from ideal and may lead to significant complexity when trying to understand what is possible and when trying to evaluate return on investment. There are also concerns from publishers that they may not see the kind of revenue uplift from sharing the first-party ID with the open web (of partners) that they may require."

He adds: "As it is, this ID will mainly be used to trade open marketplace impressions at presumably similar pricing. Typically publishers place significant value on their relationship with the end-user, and the importance of an authenticated user that is opted in for targeted advertising even higher."

What the SCMP is doing instead is upgrading its consent management process in order to give users full and immediate control of their consent settings and automate the management of this signal across platforms.

This preference will sync to both its first-party cookie personas as well as its authenticated user IDs for a seamless and privacy-compliant experience.

SCMP believes the right to privacy is an ethics question for the advertising industry that should lead any conversation on identity and its ability to drive the monetisation of media.

"It is undoubtedly the right move (no matter how uncomfortable it may make the advertising industry right now) to update the mechanics of online identity and put control into the user’s hands," explains Hocking.

"The clear privacy concerns surrounding activation in the open web demonstrate again that the best way for a brand to keep the personalisation, measurement and ROI they are used to is to develop direct relationships with publishers who are able to provide privacy-ready solutions."

Nonetheless, Mitch Waters, senior vice-president, The Trade Desk (the creators of Unified ID 2.0) says publishers like Meitu adopting support for Unified ID 2.0 is a good reminder that the open Internet is much bigger than a few destinations.

“There will not be ‘one ID to rule them all'. We believe that a few IDs will be able to cover the entire open internet. That is why we have prioritized the interoperability of Unified ID 2.0 with other ID solutions. The success of Unified ID 2.0 – and preserving the quid pro quo of the internet – is not dependent on everyone adopting the same solution,” he explains.

“For the rest of the ad tech industry, this makes our mission very clear. We must develop an alternative to cookies that preserves the value exchange of relevant advertising for marketers; helps consumers make better, more educated decisions; and enables TV content owners, journalists and publishers to monetize their content and create more of it.”

Waters remains bullish about Unified ID 2.0, even as Google recently noted that identifiers like Unified ID 2.0 do not meet user privacy expectations and will not stand up to regulatory review.

He points out it is important to note that Google is a big company with several different divisions, which means Google’s browser team may say different things than Google’s search team.

Waters also stresses that Google has not announced that it will stop using the billions of email-based logins they have accumulated to target ads, which is fundamentally the same concept behind Unified ID 2.0.

“Google’s proposal for cohort-based targeting assumes it will fill the gap when third-party cookies go away. It is unclear how consumers will be able to remove themselves from specific cohorts in which Google places them. While cohorts are important, it provides less transparency and control for consumers,” he says.

“From a regulatory standpoint, it’s not up to one single company to determine what does or does not pass regulatory considerations. Any successful solution must put the consumer in the driver’s seat and be co-developed and widely adopted across the open internet. Unified ID 2.0 preserves the quid pro quo of the open internet, which is free content in exchange for relevant advertising.”

Fellow demand-side platform Criteo, which joined Unified ID 2.0 in October 2020, has also collaborated with The Trade Desk to create OpenPass, a single sign-on (SSO) solution, which is the key for UID 2.0 to succeed at scale.

In the cookie-less world, Kenneth Pao, executive managing director for Asia Pacific at Criteo, says the DSP aims to grow its first-party media network and invest in advertising beyond third-party cookies through open-source alternatives such as SSO and UID 2.0, on top of being a leading voice in Google’s Privacy Sandbox.

Criteo, which recently underwent a rebranding exercise, is improving its enterprise toolset for marketers’ first-party data management and developing a new enterprise toolset for media owners’ first-party data management.

These will enable agencies and brands to activate their first-party data and cohort models and for media owners to create and activate curated first-party data audiences and cohorts, both on Criteo infrastructure.

“It is Criteo’s view that consistency and certainty around privacy and data protection is a win-win for businesses and the consumers they serve. It is for this reason that Criteo is committed to comply with applicable laws and regulations in all countries where it operates,” Pao explains.

“We are supporting our advertiser clients and publisher partners through their compliance journey by sharing guidelines and best practices about how to meet their own legal obligations, such as information requirement, where clients are required to be transparent with the users who visit their properties’ websites or apps. For consent requirement, clients are required to collect the consent across their properties for their use of Criteo services when legally compulsory.”

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