Data Collaboration Is Getting Harder – Time for an OpenAPI for Data

Just about ten years ago, the OpenAPI spec became a hot topic for programmatic advertisers. Today we use the term “interoperability” to talk about connecting pipes across the digital advertising ecosystem, but back then, we simply talked about the fact that everyone was drowning in complexity. Publishers, brands and agencies had too few technical resources to create custom integrations, and the work it took to configure each connection was slowing down our adoption of new capabilities.

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More Data than You Can Possibly Imagine
By one estimate, we create 328.77 terabytes of data per day. A lot of that data flows through advertiser, publisher and tech company websites, data centers and data bases. From Google and Amazon to Experian, Chase and Walmart. As marketers have become wise to the value of their own first party data, they’ve started enriching first party data with a huge volume of insights from consumer shopping and browsing behavior, demographics, transactions, weather, location and more. The data comes in a huge variety of formats, from mobile IDs to offline PII.

Let’s Work Together
A few years ago, I would have argued that Snowflake, AWS and Google need to talk to each other more easily, and that the independents need to designate resources to integrations with these big guys to make data collaboration easier. The world has evolved, and that won’t be enough to solve our data collaboration woes.
Standards Are Good, But Not Enough
Earlier this year, the IAB Tech Lab launched an initiative to provide standards for data clean rooms but this is just one piece of the puzzle. Having data clean room standards will help publishers with some level of integration efficiency. Ideally, after the first integration is complete, subsequent integrations with the same clean room should be a much lighter lift.
Integration standards to solve for interoperability, however. As long as data gardens are allowed to exist, a buyer will not be able to get a truly unified picture of their media buy, which makes things like attribution difficult – leaving us worse off than the heyday of third party cookies. While there is some pressure in the EU for the walled gardens to be more forthcoming about data transparency, interoperability is still a long way off.
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