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The goal of the open-source Swan project is to enable a privacy-by-design approach to managing addressable media identifiers and the privacy signals people link to them in support of the open web.[1]

Swan project is to be commended for providing a decentralized approach to improve people's access to web content and services, without repetitious consent requests for their default preferences. Swan's decentralizated design aims to minimize costs while increasing competition.

Swan identifiers are stored in each web client's local cookie storage enabling people to easily exercise the right to be forgotten via their browser or via integrated consent management dialogs. Moreover, the Swan proposal allows for generating, reading, resetting the addressable identifier independent of the privacy signals associated with it.

Because each Swan recipient accesses an identical pseudonymous identifier, Swan increases the efficiency of digital advertising, both removing the need for id syncing and latency it introduces, as well as increasing accuracy of cross-publisher measurement while relying only on privacy-by-design pseudonymous identifiers.

The Swan project consists of a transport method Swift and data encoding method Open Web ID that enables improved visibility of data transfers across each publisher's supply chain relative to existing third-party cookies. Because Swan combines a technical specification with contractual obligations[2] on all network participants it can provide a decentralized accountable audit log to help provide improved transparency to:

  1. people as to which organizations were involved in the delivery of the web content and services they enjoy,
  2. publishers as to which organizations are adding value to their business, and
  3. marketers to know they get what they pay for, as well as improve their supply path optimization and understand which organizations are conducting fraud.


Swan aims to help level the playing in digital advertising markets by allowing improved data interoperability with enhanced accountability. Swan states this as:

"It is a truism that Marketers will pay less when they receive lesser value. The reciprocal is also true -- as you impair marketer effectiveness, marketers will pay less or shift spend to outlets that offer a better return on ad spend (ROAS)."[3]

Swan offers a comparison against other leading proposals as to how they "support marketers’ ability to achieve effective outcomes from their advertising across publishers:

  1. Data Scale & Reach
  2. Accuracy & Precision
  3. Real Time Feedback
  4. Global Frequency Capping
  5. View-through Attribution
  6. Auditability by Individuals & Regulators
  7. Open Source"[4]

Open Questions

  • Will marketers adopt a consent management service required by Swan to improve their attribution measurement?
  • Will internet gatekeepers actively interfere with user privacy choices?