Why advertising ID interoperability is mission critical

2nd February  |  
5 minutes

With the relatively imminent loss of third-party tracking cookies, the adtech industry is going through a period of innovation to find an alternative that will enable personalised programmatic advertising to continue at scale. The Holy Grail is a new advertising ID that enables brands to recognise their audiences wherever they are on the web so they can be engaged with relevant content at the right time – and all without compromising their privacy. However, it’s becoming apparent that there’s unlikely to be one silver bullet to meet this need. As we shall see, forward-thinking publishers, brands, and agencies should instead focus their energies on how best to marshal a range of new identifiers. In this context, ID interoperability becomes mission crucial.   

The ID ecosystem 

Adtech businesses have wasted no time in rising to the challenge of third-party cookie depreciation. There are currently three main categories of ID available to help publishers, brands, and agencies looking to map a path forward: 

  • Pseudonymous Universally Unique Identifiers (UUID). One example is a first-party cookie that’s independent of authenticated logins or Personally Identifiable Information (PII). In this approach, publishers facilitate opt-out mechanisms for consumers, the persistence duration of the ID, and other controls. 
  • Pseudonymous Deterministic Authenticated Identifiers. This type of ID uses an authentication “event” such as an email address being entered into a website to initiate the creation of the ID. In this instance, device associations are made using PII that has been encrypted. 
  • Pseudonymous Probabilistic Identifiers. These IDs use algorithms to process signals including IP addresses and the device’s user agent string to infer the uniqueness of a user across the internet. 
  • Deterministic Dynamic IDs. These are single-use identifiers that are created dynamically and individually for each transaction. As they do not transact any PII at all, they are privacy-first by design.   

What is ID interoperability? 

While each of these identifiers are useful in themselves, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. This is where ID interoperability comes into play. As the name suggests, ID interoperability is a requirement for an adtech ecosystem where stakeholders can use a range of different IDs in concert to achieve their objectives. In this model, publishers, brands, and agencies do not have to choose any one ID type over another, instead they can make use of the full spectrum of innovation and capabilities on offer for a comprehensive approach to audience engagement. 

Key benefits of interoperability 

The single most important benefit of ID interoperability is that it ensures that brands and advertisers can secure the broadest reach possible for their personalised outreach. This is important because no one ID solution has all the answers to the loss of third-party tracking cookies.  

For instance, while Pseudonymous Deterministic Authenticated Identifiers are highly accurate as they are pegged to the authenticated login data of users of digital services, they can only provide audiences within the confines of that “walled garden”. Admittedly in the case of major players such as Google or Amazon that still makes for a large audience, but it is small when compared to the audiences available on the unauthenticated “open web”. To tap into the latter, publishers, brands, and agencies will need to also make use of verified, deterministic IDs that are capable of recognising users regardless of where they are on the web or which device they are using and then activating the resulting audiences – IDs like Novatiq’s own Zenith and Hyper IDs. 

In short, interoperability enables brands to understand their customer base in its entirety, combine the depth of information from an authenticated ID with the breadth of a verified ID, and enjoy the scale and breadth of the open web. The approach also means that brands are free to exploit business innovation in a way that best suits their needs.  

Interoperability in marketing & advertising 

As the digital marketing ecosystem moves into the post-tracking-cookie future, the single most important consideration of the IDs they use is whether they are fully interoperable. Publishers and brands will also need to consider how they unify these different IDs. Here, an interoperability layer will be required.  

By implementing an interoperability layer, brands and publishers can test, learn, and integrate new ID partners with minimal risk, and then integrate multiple solutions to meet various campaign requirements. It provides the glue that will enable organizations to make full use of adtech innovation in a way that siloed ID solutions cannot hope to match.  

Thanks to GDPR and consumer demand for privacy, third-party tracking cookies will soon be a thing of the past. But there will be no panacea to replace them. Instead, brands will adapt to using a range of identifiers brought together on common platforms. As a result, they will be able to continue to reach the right audiences, at the right time, and with the right message.  

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