IX Perspectives

The Future of Identity in Germany

We’re entering a new era of ad tech in Germany, one marked by remarkable innovation as well as a sense of division. As our industry continues to evolve and aspects of our ecosystem inevitably become more siloed, two schools of thought have emerged around what the future of our industry might entail.

At one end, there are an array of tech and media companies in Germany who are tempted to build greater silos around their operations — those who imagine that the key to rapid innovation and growth lies in building their own ad stacks from the ground up (essentially creating their own walled gardens). It’s a concept I’ve heard discussed during a few panels and presentations at recent industry events, explaining that the advantages of such a solution may include more rapid innovation and the power to create custom audiences designed to address specific needs for the German market.

At the other end of the spectrum are a number of tech companies, media groups, and sales houses who trust that the future of our ecosystem lies not in the construction of more walled gardens, but rather in breaking down barriers and working more collaboratively. Index Exchange subscribes to this philosophy and strategy, dedicating its resources and talents (in and outside of Germany) to building cooperative Identity solutions. Such solutions enable our clients to scale their businesses while remaining flexible and agile enough to accommodate local needs, including the NetID Foundation, which we recently joined as a counseling member.

In my eyes (and in Index’s), the only way we’ll be able to propel our industry forward and truly progress is by trading our smaller, unique advantages for the greater good of the open web. This is not to suggest we should eliminate all unique strengths and innovation, nor to discourage a bit of healthy competition, as our industry needs both in order to thrive. Rather, we each need to trade a small aspect of our advantage in exchange for a stronger, more powerful, and ultimately more competitive ecosystem — one which will bring greater ROI to all of our partners and clients.

Put differently, we, as independent tech platforms, publishers, and so forth, each understand unique bits and pieces of Identity. If we work in tandem to pool this information and create open and common Identity solutions — as the NetID Foundation is pushing us to do — we have the capacity to steer away from cookie reliance and boost user syncs, ultimately allowing every programmatic player to succeed. It’s a message that so many members of the German programmatic community have (and continue to) rally behind.

As our industry inevitably shifts and evolves, I trust that the greatest progress will come from working together, not apart.

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