Cookies and device IDs on the way out
Marketers need new IDs. Here’s what they will look like.
The two identifiers most commonly used to personalise and automate advertising – cookies and mobile device IDs – are on the way out. The search is on for a new way to identify users for targeted advertising that’s secure, compliant with privacy regulations, and effective.
At present, the market has two potential replacements to cookies and mobile IDs that are ready to go: persistent identifiers and dynamic identifiers. What are they, and how are they suited to the needs of advertisers, publishers and consumers?
Persistent identifiers provide one view of a user across all devices through deterministic data (i.e. first-party user data taken from logins). For persistent IDs to deliver targeted audiences publishers must either map their data to their inventory, or their ID to other buy-side segmented audience IDs.
Persistent identifiers can be offered directly by publishers. In these cases, the information is encrypted and can only be decrypted by advertisers that have signed up to request the identifier. In other cases, Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs) can act as a proxy for the publisher, invoking the identifier by virtue of their relationship with the publisher.
Dynamic identifiers, on the other hand, are transient in that they last only as long as the targeted advertising placement process. Dynamic IDs generated by a telco are applied for each individual ad request, therefore by nature are inherently one-off and non-sequential meaning the ability for audience data to be re-used is nullified.
In Novatiq’s case, the identifier sits on telecoms carriers’ networks and leverages their consented first-party data. These dynamic identifiers are first-party and deterministic, meaning that the audiences reached are precisely matched to advertisers’ needs.
For example in our case advertisers request an audience segment from the telco. In real-time, the telco matches the segment attributes to the request and assigns a dynamic ‘snowflake’ ID to it behind their firewall before securely guiding the snowflake ID across the ad ecosystem to exchange for associated segments at point of use. Once the ‘snowflakes’ safe passage is completed, it becomes impossible to reuse the intelligence.
Dynamic IDs and data protection
In our view, both dynamic and persistent IDs will have a role to play in tomorrow’s advertising industry. When it comes to dynamic IDs, their role will be as an enabler for privacy-first data transactions. There are several features of dynamic IDs that make them well suited to this task:
- Security. With dynamic IDs, personally identifiable data (PII) remains behind telcos’ firewalls – pretty much the most secure firewalls in operation aside from those used by the military. As a result, all organisations downstream of the carrier need not concern themselves about data breaches or losing PII. This is important for compliance with GDPR and other similar regulations and for maintaining a trustworthy brand.
- Consent. Another consideration with GDPR compliance is obtaining consent for the storage and processing of PII. With dynamic identifiers, consumers can manage consent through their existing and trusted relationship with their telco. That choice, made once, is then automatically enacted for all advertising activity. What’s more, as no actual PII leaves the telco, there are no data ‘breadcrumbs’ left around the ecosystem, making compliance much easier.
- Speed. In-network identifiers can operate in real-time as they leverage up-to-the-minute data. You can therefore reach audiences at the first time of asking. By allowing advertisers to serve audiences immediately, dynamic identifiers increase reach and remove audience drop off, as for each and every time of asking, advertisers can reach relevant audiences drawn from all consenting telco customers.
- Accuracy. Another benefit of real-time data is that it is always current. Depending on the housekeeping skills of publishers and SSPs, not to mention consumers using their services, persistent data can quickly fall out of date. Dynamic identifiers are the best way of knowing with certainty that you are reaching exactly the right segments every time.
Whilst there are industry initiatives, such as IAB Tech Lab ‘Project Rearc’ designed to help ‘re-architect digital marketing’, there are solutions that already exist in the market right now.
Telcos are the obvious place to establish IDs and deliver them to the ad ecosystem. Indeed, in other spheres the obvious benefits of network-based approaches are already being used as a de facto standard for identifying people. GSMA Mobile Connect, for example, uses an API to connect to third party services and allow them to authenticate user identities through their mobile phone numbers. The clear benefits of network-based approaches to identity add up and help ensure that dynamic identifiers will play an important role in the ad industry of the future.