Project Rearc: An Industry Collaboration to Rearchitect Digital Marketing

Project Rearc

Harmonizing Privacy, Personalization, and Community

We just wrapped a very timely and active IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. During this event, IAB and IAB Tech Lab introduced Project Rearc, an initiative to get stakeholders across the digital advertising and media supply chain working together to make the internet a better place for consumers – marrying the value of privacy, personalization, and community.

A big part of this is agreeing, as an industry, on how we will operate without the use of third-party cookies. Since the introduction of Project Rearc, just two days ago, there has been some confusion on what the IAB Tech Lab is and isn’t pursuing and how we believe some preliminary proposed solutions could work.

What we proposed:

With the loss of third-party cookies, and potentially mobile ad IDs thereafter, the default future state of digital media will be 100% anonymous, non-addressable to third-party vendors that support advertising-funded media and services today.

The feasibility of direct addressability going forward, for any advertising-related use case, rests on trusted relationships between consumers and first parties: brands and publishers. Addressability might only exist in the future state via a consumer-provided, consented identifier tied to privacy preferences. As an example, today many brands and publishers ask consumers for an email address.

Tech Lab proposes to develop rigorous technical standards and guidelines that inform how companies collect and use such an identifier so that:

  • Consumers are in control of the use of the ID and any related data. Any privacy preferences attached to the identifier are strictly followed.
  • The identifier is sufficiently encrypted so that it cannot be reverse-engineered to identify the person.
  • Brands and publishers have auditable, technical assurances that third-party vendors cannot track consumers on this basis without explicit consent.
  • Third-party vendors are able to execute on behalf of trusted first parties, without compromising any of the above objectives.

Tech Lab also proposes the need for standardized consumer-facing messaging, and accountability mechanisms that ascertain responsible privacy practices.

What we are doing:

  • Acknowledging existing discussions or practices among first parties to utilize consumer-provided, consented identifiers for addressability.
  • Proposing that the industry collaborate to ensure responsible use of consumer-provided  identifiers with privacy, transparency, and control.
  • Suggesting that technical standards and a compliance program will be critical to ensuring that a range of addressability practices – including some employed today – are much more tightly constrained, coupled with privacy and accountability.

What we are not doing:

  • Tech Lab is not creating an identifier product/service.
  • We are not advocating for the broad collection, use or sharing of email addresses or phone numbers as IDs across the ecosystem. We specifically proposed this should NOT happen.

What comes next:

  • We will be working with IAB and other trade associations and collective membership to the fullest extent possible to define a process for moving these important conversations forward. The goal is to tackle business, policy, and technical aspects of identity and addressability solutions, building on the initial thinking shared during the IAB ALM event.
  • Please watch for further communications…and engage!

Project Rearc: Join the ‘Great Collab’

View IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg’s Keynote at ALM

Register for Project Rearc Webinars


Dennis Buchheim
Former President
at IAB Tech Lab

Jordan Mitchell
Former Senior Vice President, Privacy, Identity & Data
at IAB Tech Lab