The Only Truly Universal ID Is Multiple IDs | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

The Only Truly Universal ID Is Multiple IDs

July 29, 2021

By Bryan MacDonald


The deprecation of third-party cookies and mobile ad IDs (MAIDs) has thrust the data-driven advertising ecosystem into a period of uncertainty. The underlying mechanisms that support targeted marketing are going away, but nobody is quite certain what will take their place.

Credible alternatives have emerged to fill the impending void. But at the time of this writing, none has emerged as a clear leader. And that’s in part because publishers and marketers have yet to make the shift in earnest. They are still transacting on cookies and MAIDs, clinging to the old model for as long as it is around.

But the cliff is fast approaching, and the hunt for new mechanisms is in full swing. The market provides what seems like a new alternative every day. LiveRamp has its Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) and IdentityLink Consortium (IDL), The Trade Desk offers the Universal ID 2.0 (UID 2.0), Merkle its Merkury ID, ID5 has its own Universal ID, the list goes on. Each of these solutions presents a credible currency for marketing based on identity, but, in spite of the branding, the multiplicity of offerings more or less guarantees that none will be truly “universal” out of the gate. To succeed, marketers need to be prepared to execute against a multipoint, multi-ID ecosystem, and be in control of centralized deployment and analytic solutions.


People-Based Marketing Is Still About People

In spite of this uncertainty, there are a few things that we can project with some confidence. Namely, that this future — whatever it is — will be people-based and privacy-first, meaning that marketers, via whatever mechanism, will need to leverage their data assets in a secure way to reach real people.

At this moment, it’s worth remembering what hasn’t changed in this equation: that people are still people, and that people-based marketing is still fundamentally about matching first-party data with the PII that establishes who they are in a deterministic way. The entire world has changed, but PII hasn’t: it’s still a hashed email or home address. Both are relatively stable and can be confidently validated as representing a real person. Regardless of the mechanism, people-based marketing is still about connecting marketing data, first or third party, to those core sources of truth and enabling a holistic and consistent message.

Marketers should not have to make their own assumptions about which of the emergent identity solutions will gain traction and become a currency. It’s possible that none will. Betting on only one risks the opportunity of having to restart your martech investment strategy. The only truly universal solution lies in having the agility and interoperability to operate with several at once.

As a marketer, you should be focused an identity solution that can facilitate a connection of data and individuals via whatever mechanism works best for you as a marketer. We are starting to see this demand in marketers as they seek an identity management platform, working with today’s standard of third-party data and tomorrow’s standard of first-party data, that affords them the control and flexibility to migrate to the unknown media channels and technologies of tomorrow. While the initial approach of many brands was a wait and see what solution wins out, it is becoming apparent that there will not be a single solution and to limit a brand to one identity answer will dramatically reduce the scale and scope of their marketing efforts. To wait it out is to concede to those who are moving forward now.

At Adstra, our vision is to future proof the use of data for marketers by taking a people-based approach to identity. Identifiers may change over time, but the individual does not. With the ability to transform identity from one media to another, Adstra can orchestrate consistent messaging at an individual level, utilizing any ID graph in combination with any form of marketing data. It provides safe, compliant, portable, and cost-efficient access to any form of marketing data, combined with any form of identity and any form of applied analytics.

Bryan MacDonald is EVP and head of product and digital operations at Adstra.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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