What Is Bidstream Data?

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Bidstream data is a term that we’re hearing more and more lately. However, it is seldom understood.

In today’s digital world, ad auctions happen in real-time. That means any data attached to those bids and auctions — namely, bidstream data — is exchanged in the process.

In this article, we’re going to talk about bidstream data: What it is, how it works, how the data can be used, and so on. 

What Exactly Is Bidstream Data?

Bid stream data is short for bidstream location data. In essence, the “bidstream” is a network of advertising requests. These requests are specifically for delivering ads to mobile devices.

All of the data that gets passed along with a bid request is what makes up the bidstream data. Beginning with the publisher’s physical website or app, the data includes anything related to the ad units. That would include URL, device type, IP address, and ad format data.

Fortunately, bidstream data does not typically include the exchange of users’ personally identifiable information (PII). 

The type of information a publisher would willingly share data-wise with advertisers in bid request form includes:

  • Location, such as IP address and zip code
  • The mobile device type, including the brand, model, screen size, connection type, OS, and CPU speed
  • Ad-related data such as the publisher’s URL, the ad size unit, and the ad format

This information is usually shared for ad-targeting purposes, and regardless of whether the advertiser wins the impression, any bidstream data that has been exchanged gets stored in advertiser’s and publisher’s database until it’s manually deleted.

How Can Bidstream Data Be Used?

The value of bidstream data is that it provides the location-driven and GPS data that allows advertisers to get a sense of the best “bidding areas.” It’s the easiest way for them to get publisher data since buy-side platforms use the very same data to run personalized ads.

However, since the publishers are the ones who actually own the bidstream data, they’re the ones who can choose who they want to sell the information to. Additionally, publishers can use the bidstream data to parse information to create a specific audience to analyze and target. 

This works in the advertiser’s favor as well. The information parsed via the bidstream data is the data provided to the advertisers, which gives publishers the advantage of upselling their inventory.

Essentially, it all comes down to location attribution since location data is really the only piece of worthwhile information that comes from the bidstream. Beyond advertisers and publishers, app developers also tend to purchase bidstream data to help them to better target their audience with impressions.

Lastly, brands can use bidstream data to analyze how various geo locations, browsers, and URLs perform under high-value audience segments. This gives them insight into the aforementioned bidding areas in terms of efficiency and scarcity. 

Does Bidstream Data Work Without Third-Party Cookies?

There has been concern within the general marketing world over the loss of tracking cookies or third-party cookies. Third-party cookies played a vital role in how advertising and social networks tracked user traffic — both directly and indirectly.

Now, most browsers including Firefox, Chrome, and Safari block these cookies by default. What’s more nerve wracking is that there’s no alternative for third-party cookies in sight.

Luckily, bidstream data can work without third-party cookies, serving as a solution to the cookie blockers. Bidstream data allows publishers, advertisers, and other marketers to parse, utilize, and sell the data they gain in the exchange. Moreover, with bidstream data, there’s no need to sync cookies with demand-side platforms (DSPs). This minimizes the need and use of third-party cookies altogether. 

Additionally, publishers are always allowed to use their targeting ads based on the relevant content at hand. This is considered contextual targeting, and it’s typically sent in the form of bidstream data which has zero relation to cookies.

Is Bidstream Data Compliant with Privacy Standards?

When it comes to privacy standards, bidstream data straddles the line of compliance. 

While there’s no PII involved in the bidstream data exchange — keeping it safe from privacy laws such as the CCPA and GDPR — user consent is still necessary in terms of displaying targeted ads. Without user consent to display targeted ads, publishers can face certain penalties.

The topic of data privacy and the definition of user consent is pressing, especially with identity management and ad blocking software on the rise. Even without PII, businesses must clearly declare their intent to parse and process data and garner consent to be viewed as “legitimate.”

So, in a sense, bidstream data is compliant with privacy standards simply because it doesn’t involve gathering personal information on users. However, at the same time, tracking users’ locations and device information is considered an invasion of privacy among certain internet browsers. 

Therefore, publishers and advertisers should keep a close eye on privacy law standards as they continue to evolve.

What Is the Future of Bidstream Data?

As far as we’re concerned, bidstream data isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’ll continue to evolve as the rest of the location data industry and privacy regulations evolve over the next decade at least. 

As of right now, bidstream data isn’t as reliable compared to other forms of data, such as software development kit (SDK) data. However, there’s a growing and critical need for bidstream data at the moment. This could translate to some serious upgrades in the coming months providing flexibility in terms of identity signals and more. 

Of course, that’s not to say that bidstream data won’t face some obstacles with the onslaught of privacy regulations spreading beyond the state of California. In this case, data will likely become a matter of user consent as users continue to try and protect themselves from cyber attacks and identity theft.

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