Major disruptions like CCPA, Apple’s decision to roll-out opt-in for tracking via IDFA, and Google’s push to kill the third-party cookie have triggered a frenzy within the ad industry, spurring AdTech providers large and small to rethink identity. Identity is not a nice to have – it’s a must have. Providers are touting “cookieless” tracking capabilities as the next generation of “identity” by using authenticated hashed emails, but are they?
Here are other approaches that are still in development:
With these shortcomings in mind, the industry is tirelessly trying to answer a single question – “how do we digitally identify audiences in a privacy-first and compliant way that does not use a 3rd party cookie?” The answer is less about inventing more solutions from the ground up and more about building upon the solutions we already have in place. Additionally, we need to find ways to integrate these solutions into the supply side.
Authenticated cookie-less tracking utilizes scripts that run in the background when a user visits a web page (thus removing Google, or any other browser for that matter, from the equation). This solution requires a log-in event and relies mostly on a user’s email or phone number captured during the log-in process.
First, a visitor creates an account to access content on a media site. That site stores the visitor’s email and password so that it can recognize and authenticate return visitors. Since this data is considered PII, cookieless providers convert the authenticated email into a hashed email and then associate it to a randomized ID sequence of letters and numbers unique to the user.
In the last several years, numerous firms have emerged offering a variety of cookieless IDs and data connectivity solutions. Like historic cookie-based solutions, cookieless solutions still rely on converting native information into hashed information, and cannot provide a valid identity behind that cookieless ID. As AdTech providers continue to work out the kinks in cookieless tracking, a host of new questions plague the industry:
Accepting one cookieless solution certainly simplifies the equation, but it also creates inventory gaps and increases the probability for under-scaled audiences. Additionally, identities constantly change, making it nearly impossible for one provider to a) see all who use the open web and b) track the multitude of IDs both within and across providers associated with a single individual.
On the other hand, a shared universe that is inclusive of many cookieless IDs could:
On the supply side, using multiple ID providers would also ensure that a publisher’s advertising inventory gets maximum exposure, resulting in numerous advantages:
If the ad industry is to solve the cookieless ID problem, they don’t need more solutions, they need an orchestrator that brings existing cookieless services, identity, and other parts of the identity ecosystem together. Rather than narrow the selection to a single solution, a well-orchestrated provider of ID services could transform hashed emails from a publisher into a cookieless ID, connect that ID with a real person, and provide an ID layer beneath the cookieless ID to identify matches and champion the most accurate data in an increasingly cookieless world.
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