Publicis Groupe Signs On to Use Trade Desk’s Alternative to Cookies

Advertising conglomerate


Groupe SA has struck a deal with ad-technology company Trade Desk Inc. meant to help it send targeted ads as marketers prepare for big changes in the digital ecosystem.

Marketers and ad-tech companies have been working to come up with alternatives for tracking and targeting consumers ahead of Google’s planned moves against third-party cookies.

Cookies are technology files that live in browsers and collect information about individuals’ online behavior.

Brands are investing in new ways to collect and use so-called first-party data, as opposed to data from endangered third-party sources, to market their products with the kind of precision to which they have become accustomed. Ad agencies and ad-tech companies alike are looking for ways to help.

Trade Desk has been recruiting online publishers to create new user identifiers for ad targeting, but the Publicis deal represents new movement on the advertising side of the business.

With its Unified ID effort, Trade Desk aims to build a large number of individual consumer profiles based on anonymized information such as email addresses that are scrambled to protect privacy. Companies in Trade Desk’s network can access the profiles and add data to them. Trade Desk said it has more than 120 million profiles.

The deal creates a self-service tool for Publicis Groupe data-marketing company Epsilon that lets clients match their data or Epsilon’s with Trade Desk’s, and run automated ad campaigns fueled by Trade Desk’s technology. Publicis acquired Epsilon for $4.4 billion in 2019.

“One of the things I’ve always gone back and forth on is, do we build or partner?” said Ric Elert, president and operating chief at Epsilon. “It made more sense to do this partnership agreement because this isn’t something we’re just looking at for the U.S.”

Epsilon intends to expand the capability to Europe, Asia and Latin America, Mr. Elert said.

Before the deal, Epsilon could help customers understand their first-party data and buy ads through a managed-service model. If a client wanted to move its Epsilon audience segments to Trade Desk to execute an ad buy, for example, Epsilon would work with the technology company to synchronize different data sets. The new self-service tool, combined with Trade Desk’s new identifier, will eliminate those steps and make it possible for clients to access Epsilon tools on Trade Desk’s platform, the companies said.

Write to Alexandra Bruell at [email protected]

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