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What are Universal IDs & Why Should You Care?

What are Universal IDs & Why Should You Care?

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mediarithmics Team
June 6, 2023

What are Universal IDs & Why Should You Care?

How effectively are you able to measure user activity online?

Since it’s become possible to track consumer behaviour, gathering in-depth and detailed insights has been prioritised by marketing and advertising teams. 

It allows them to address…

  • Where is their target audience
  • How does their target audience behave
  • What inspires their target audience to make a decision

So that they can effectively buy media space that delivers the highest incremental value. That said, the ability to track user activity has become considerably less straightforward in recent times. 

An increase in industry regulation (largely following the launch of GDPR in 2018) has created a minefield that most publishers and advertisers are struggling to navigate. 

How Has Digital Activity Been Tracked Previously?

Over the last thirty years, “cookies” have been the go-to data technology for tracking online activity. As you browse, they record information about the websites and pages you visit and personalise your experience accordingly. This produces a wealth of valuable data for advertisers that want to reach customers who would be interested in their products. However, the existence of cookies currently hangs on a precipice.

The Downfall of 3rd-Party Cookies

Due to an increase in privacy concerns from their consumers, Google is looking to phase out the use of 3P cookies completely. This has been years in the making, where Firefox & Safari already started blocking 3P cookies several years ago. 

(Source: Digital Information World).

On May 18th 2023 — three years after the original announcement - Google finally confirmed its plans to “deprecate third-party cookies for 1% of chrome users in the first quarter of 2024”. This is just the start of a rapid decline, where by the end of the year, third-party cookies will come to an abrupt and final end. 

Are you prepared?

The Rise of Universal IDs

For a lot of publishers, the downfall of 3P cookies is something to start panicking about. How else can they…

  1. Track users cross-site across the web?
  2. Serve targeted ads?
  3. Deliver accurate measurement for their advertisers?

Luckily, there is an alternative… Universal IDs. These have been rising in popularity in the last couple of years and are one of the solutions that every publisher needs.

What are Universal IDs?

According to Forbes, a Universal ID is “a single identifier that recognizes the user in the digital marketing ecosystem”, covering multiple channels.

They are based on a range of probabilistic and deterministic matching techniques, which allows all the information associated with an individual’s online activity to be synced across the board and assigned to a specific, anonymous, identifier. 

This Universal ID can then be passed onto approved partners in the supply chain (such as advertisers) without compromising anyone’s privacy… something cookies have never been able to do.

How to Select a Universal ID Partner

In order to use Universal IDs, you’ll need a service provider that can collect, organise, and anonymise the information on your behalf. Some of the main players to choose between include:

  • ID5 
  • Liveramp
  • The Trade Desk 
  • First ID
  • Net ID 
  • PanoramaID 

Any one of these companies could be suitable, having established themselves in the global arena. Due to the way Universal IDs work, there’ll need to be a lot of back and forth between yourself and your partner… choose wisely.

“Although Universal IDs operate in a very similar way to third-party cookies, the key difference is how the identifiers are created and used. With IDs in third-party cookies, pretty much any AdTech company can create a third-party cookie and store a unique ID inside it. With universal IDs, it's up to the publisher to pass on the signals (e.g. probabilistic and deterministic data) to the Universal ID service.” - Michael Sweeney, Head of Marketing at Clearcode

Questions to Ask Yourself About Universal ID Partners

To narrow down the different options available to you for embracing Universal IDs, you’ll have to start comparing the providers.

These are the answers you’ll need to seek through online research and speaking to the partners themselves…

  1. Can you test in an environment without cookies? For example, can you run campaign trials in Mozilla or Safari where cookies do not exist today?
  2. Are you strong in all geographic locations (or, at least, the ones I’m operating in)? For example, can they provide reach from Europe, Asia, and America?
  3. Can you demonstrate your value? For example, do they have case studies evidencing that their Universal IDs make a difference to both publisher and advertiser partners?
  4. What data technology are you compatible with? For example, can they work alongside your core data stack, including your CDP or DMP? 

With the success of your media business on the line, the last mistake you want to make is to rush into a decision — selecting a provider that can’t integrate with your existing infrastructure. It is imperative that you select a solution, or multiple solutions, which provide incremental value to your demand partners in the near future. 

Leveraging Universal IDs through mediarithmics

mediarithmics is an industry-leading next-Gen Data Platform that can work alongside any Universal ID partner of your choice.
With Google progressively removing cookies from Chrome from as early as January 2024, time to future proof your business and thrive in a cookie-less environment is scarce. Conversation to speak to, select and implement any given solution needs to start now. 

Ready to learn more? Contact us today.

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