Publicis, The Trade Desk partner as ad tracking loses steam online

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Publicis said on Thursday it has partnered with U.S. tech ad firm The Trade Desk to offer an alternative to consumer ad trackers, whose gradual removal online puts swathes of the advertising industry at risk.

The Trade Desk will add access to consumer profiles held by Publicis’ data unit Epsilon to its platform so that buyers of digital ads can better target potential end-clients, Publicis said.

In return, Publicis’ clients that already rely on Epsilon’s data will have access to The Trade Desk’s platform for their digital ad campaigns, the world’s third-biggest advertising group said.

The move comes amid a global trend toward the disappearance of trackers online, also known as cookies. They are at the foundation of the web and have for decades enabled online ads.

Yet privacy activists say companies that develop online ad technology abuse cookies by tracking users across many websites and letting brands use the data to target ads.

Apple has removed third-party cookies from its browser Safari.

Alphabet’s Google followed suit by pledging that it will phase out technology in its Chrome browser that lets other companies track users’ web browsing.

This shift compelled advertisers and traditional holding ad groups such as Publicis to rethink their data strategies.

Publicis bought Epsilon for about $4 billion two years ago. The unit says it has 250 million detailed consumer profiles in the United States and Europe.

The Trade Desk operates a demand-side platform (DSP), a key element in the complex automated advertising chain online that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one platform.

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