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The 4 most important questions to ask when evaluating identity solutions

January 6, 2021 | By Pierre Diennet, Vice President of Product Management – Lotame @Lotame

The identity solution landscape is growing fast. I can count at least 10 solutions that launched last year alone. Third-party cookies are approaching their final exit. Identity is seen as a viable and sustainable way to keep digital advertising running and help large and small businesses alike survive. That’s all good news.

But like most things in adtech land, parsing through how technical solutions differ often requires an advanced degree and a good translator. It is technical for a reason. However, that doesn’t mean technology can’t be accessible and approachable.

I’ve spent the bulk of the last two years working on an identity solution, so I have some opinions. I’ve also spent a good deal of that time talking to other identity solution providers. There are a lot of smart people working on very difficult problems from a multitude of angles. If you’re not excited about the amount of innovation happening at this tremendous clip, you may be in the wrong industry.

For those not steeped in the tech parlance, however, vetting identity solution partners is daunting. So, in an effort to provide clarity, I’ve culled my top four starter questions that every identity solution partner should be able to answer. Frankly, these are questions every marketer, publisher, SSP, DSP, and data provider should ask.

Four critical questions to ask identity solution partners

1. Does your solution support the authenticated or open web?

The authenticated web refers to those users that register and login to a site, app, or platform. Email address is the most common form of authentication, and that identifier then becomes the key to accessing content or other services. Early estimates predict that publishers can achieve at best 10-20% of authenticated users by 2022. That’s great progress to be sure. But what about the other 80% of consumers? Capturing their attention is just as important as authenticated users. This is particularly true for those businesses interested in top funnel activities like prospecting. For maximum scale and coverage, consider leveraging both authenticated and open web identity solutions. 

2. Does your solution support enriched or empty IDs?

An enriched ID is exactly what it sounds like. These solutions were built with data enrichment at the core with the goal of helping marketers and publishers execute more relevant and responsible advertising. Some IDs offer up to 200+ behavioral attributes within their IDs. This offers a treasure trove of privacy-compliant, pseudonymized data for targeting, optimization, reporting, frequency management, and more. But not all identity solutions are created equally. Many others are empty. They exist to leverage first-party data alone, which may sacrifice accuracy based on a single contextual visit or single point of view (the publishers), as well as scale. Additionally, some require a fee to use them and charge additional costs to coordinate and attach relevant data for addressable advertising. Weigh all of these costs and factors when evaluating your identity partners.

3. Where privacy is concerned, is your ID transparent or opaque?

You could ask “Is your ID privacy compliant.” However, the above question will tell you much more about a company’s actions when it comes to compliance. Until U.S. federal law exists, I’d advise to look to Europe’s GDPR, some of the strictest regulation around consumer privacy, for guidance on how to vet an identity partner.

GDPR prioritizes control, transparency, and accountability when it comes to consumer data. In that spirit, look for a solution that makes it easy and accessible for consumers to access, request, and delete their data. Further, seek a partner that minimizes its data collection and communicates accountable IDs to every channel. This ensures a clear, auditable trail as opposed to opaque providers who obscure themselves to users, reduce the ability to see data sharing across platforms, and hide tracking methods.

4. Is your ID solution interoperable or siloed?

You may be wondering with so many ID solutions out there, can they and how will they talk to each other? That’s an excellent question. This is a critical area to dive into with your partners for several reasons. Number one, there may be translation activity fees you need to build into your budget if the ID solution is not interoperable out of the gate. Second, if the ID isn’t freely accessible, you may experience some technical difficulties with sharing across various platforms in other regions. And, third, if the solution doesn’t permit communication across and between IDs, all that rich consumer profiling and segmentation work you did on the front-end may be lost in the lack of translation.

All the right answers

If, however, you find a solution that does all of the above — true interoperability across channels, platforms, and other IDs — that means your portfolio approach will be working most effectively. I trust these four questions will lead to lively and transparent conversations. We all need to be talking more and more openly to solve for a post-cookie, privacy-first world. What questions are you asking identity solution partners? I’d love to hear what’s top of mind for you as you navigate this landscape

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