This byline originally appeared on AdExchanger

Two years ago, MediaMath partnered to find a way for open and independent digital marketing platforms to rival the scale of walled gardens that promised a better experience for consumers. A short time after cofounding the Ad ID Consortium, the group’s focus pivoted from that of a shared cookie asset to include cross-device identity, positioning that consortium effort as directly competitive to many of the vendors we sought to recruit.

That wasn’t our vision for improving the digital experience across the ecosystem then, and time has validated the market need for a neutral, standard identifier. In June 2018, the Ad ID Consortium’s decision to join IAB’s DigiTrust confirmed the market need for a neutral and independent device-level identifier. Anything less will drive further fragmentation.

In digital marketing, identity is the ability to resolve consumer presence across an increasingly complex portfolio of devices and services. It can empower consumers to manage that presence and support marketers by leveraging that presence to deliver valuable, personalized offers, products, services and communications.

As we experience more fragmentation than ever before, and as device and channel proliferation continue unabated, the industry must strive to offer clarity and solutions to our customers and the market at large.

Today, proprietary identity solutions being offered in the guise of consortium approaches actually perpetuate the fragmentation of identity and buttress the status quo. The vulnerability to instabilities in proprietary solutions are evident already. Any Ad ID Consortium members who invested in keying and transacting on the AppNexus ID, with AppNexus as the primary domain supporting the Ad ID consortium, for example, needed to re-key their device ID when AppNexus left the consortium in September 2018.

That demonstrates to advertisers, publishers and platforms that the risk of entrusting your fundamental connection – your digital last mile – to consumers, on proprietary, for-profit components they don’t control is too great. To anyone still keying off another platform’s proprietary offering, it might be good to have a Plan B.

With options being proffered as open, accessible, scaled identity “consortium” solutions, it’s worth noting that the result for a siloed and fragmented identity landscape is more fragmentation. Many of today’s proposed solutions operate purely on proprietary tech, controlled by for-profit vendors, benefiting those vendors directly. The proposed solutions do anything but level the playing field; they fence it off, create a gatekeeper and charge a hefty admission fee.

Our vision for device recognition is deterministic and observed in transactional or behavioral data, to drive results on any platform. Offerings should not only be open and built on a common industry device identifier, but also enable a full consumer-level view of an agency or brand advertiser’s audience in its entirety, as seen both on owned properties and across media.

Support of an open foundation such as DigiTrust creates opportunities for publishers, platforms and advertisers who want a neutral, independent, persistent and lossless identity. Digital advertising is the lifeblood of the internet and engine of the global economy. As the largest marketing channel for the companies that build the products and services we use every day, brands need marketing to work more than ever.