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When it comes to data tracking, there is no doubting that the cookie has been king for the best part of two decades.

But, with companies like Google and Apple now looking to change how internet browsing works, the cookies’ reign is quickly coming to a close.

Google has set an – albeit optimistic – end date of 2022 for third-party cookies, meaning the search is on for a new king.

So who will take the throne?

Unified ID

In October, two of the biggest players in advertising technology took a significant step towards building the future of tracking amid the ‘Chromageddon’.

The Trade Desk and LiveRamp announced a new partnership, which will see LiveRamp begin to integrate The Trade Desk’s privacy-focused open identifier, the Unified ID 2.0.

The Unified ID 2.0 is an open-source sign-on solution that tracks users with hashed and encrypted email addresses, rather than with cookies. It also gives consumers greater control over their data and employs single sign on capabilities, meaning it is effective across the open internet (and consumers don’t have to repeatedly consent).

The integration will allow these customers to connect their first-party data with relevant audiences. 

Nielsen and Criteo have both also committed to supporting The Trade Desk’s Unified ID in recent months, indicating this system could in fact be the future.

Other participants

There are, however, several other big players in the identity space, all of whom are seeking to become the de facto standard for digital IDs.

Google has publicly spoken about its development of a ‘Privacy Sandbox’, which offers advertisers aggregated data via five APIs, as an alternative to cookies. Meanwhile Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle are all investing heavily into the development of customer data platforms (CDPs) as a way to aggregate, organise and align customer data in a cookieless world.

Practical considerations

And while each of these solutions has the ability to be an effective tool, there are important considerations to keep in mind as the industry weighs up the reality of a unified solution.

Naturally, there is a benefit to having so many large technology companies competing to create the next big identity solution, however, it also brings with it the risk of having too many solutions in the market and a disjointed experience for both consumers and advertisers.

On the flip side, there are also questions about having one unified solution. As is demonstrated by the impact of Google’s change to third party cookies, having a single unified solution leaves the industry vulnerable when changes are made and can potentially stifle innovation.

Given both the Unified ID and CDPs rely heavily on email addresses to identify customers, there will be new challenges in how this data is used. 

There is also the absence of authentication tools for many companies. In terms of authentication, cookies could be dropped onto a computer without any action but email logins capture a much smaller portion of the visitor base. 

Identity Graph

The identity graph has emerged in recent times as a genuine contender to help businesses utilise data in a privacy-centric manner. An identity graph is a single database that carries customer profiles and all known identifiers that correlate with this consumer.

This is a concept that resonates with us at smrtr. The smrtr Identity Graph uses a wide number of opted-in, privacy-compliant datasets to connect different forms of Personal Identity.

Overall we cover 85 percent of the population with one or more personal identifiers and 100 per cent of households. 

This is used in different ways by our clients to:

  • Better understand their customers by connecting our deep insights via whichever IDs they have. Insights can be aggregated for the whole customer base, a segment, or mapped back to individual customers in CRM systems
  • Communicate with those customers via the digital ad-tech ecosystem through their existing ad-tech and relationships
  • Find lookalikes for targeting in the digital ad-tech ecosystem with their media partners
  • Enrich their understanding of the touchpoints that their customers use

As opposed to most of the solutions mentioned above, smrtr’s Identity graph is available now, Australian focussed and all about connecting online and offline data to create a complete view of the customer.

If you’d like to learn more please, contact us and we’ll be in touch within the next business day.

 By Steve Millward, General Manager – Commercial at smrtr