5 Important Factors Publishers Should Consider While Choosing Universal IDs

Updated on: December 16, 2023
With the phasing out of third-party cookies the ad tech industry is looking at Universal IDs as a viable solution for targeted advertising. However, there are many universal ID solutions you can choose from and not all of them are equally positioned to help you. You need to make the right choice by considering a number of different factors when selecting your universal ID partner. Let’s have a look at what these are.

The phasing out of third-party cookies creates an opportunity for the ad tech industry to innovate and create better technologies for audience monetization, data protection, and ad targeting. Walled gardens and tech giants are secure from this shift in the sense that they already have ample user data to facilitate individual user targeting with personalized ads. However, it is you, publishers functioning in the open web, who need to start thinking of alternative solutions to adopt.

While there are various solutions like contextual ads or Google’s Privacy Sandbox, the best alternative at the moment seems to be universal IDs. Universal IDs use hashed phone numbers or email addresses that have been shared consensually to identify users across the supply chain without the cookie syncing process.

The issue at hand is not whether universal IDs would fare better than other solutions, but rather which universal ID solution would fare better. It needs to be mentioned here that there are more than 25 different identifiers available to choose from, and not all universal IDs are created equal. While some offer promising deterministic solutions, others are probabilistic. Choosing the right one will help you stay ahead of the curve in this changing landscape without third-party cookies.

Important considerations while choosing universal IDs

Demand from Advertisers

For a universal ID to work efficiently, both publishers and advertisers need to use the same solution provider. Every advertiser has their own set of data, collected from their own properties (sites) and various data partners, which they need to match with the universal IDs. Only then can they provide targeted ads to their intended audience

Hence, while choosing the right universal ID partner, you need to ensure that they provide a feasible solution for advertisers to use as well. The solution should also be able to accurately authenticate users across multiple platforms enabling your buyers to target users with personalized ads.

Questions you should ask the universal ID provider during evaluation:

  • Do they provide easy solutions for advertisers as well or not?
  • Does the universal ID solution provide accurate authentication across multiple platforms?
  • What facilities does the universal ID solution provide to advertisers to integrate and structure their own user profiles with the universal IDs to serve targeted ads?

Comprehensiveness of the ID graph

The identity graph is at the core of a universal IDs functionality. While choosing a universal ID partner, you need to ensure that they have an existing and comprehensive database of deterministically collected user IDs against which users are to be matched.

Why should you choose a scalable universal ID solution?

You also need to ensure that this ID graph has been constructed using scalable techniques. You need to remember that deterministic methods can only attribute authenticated users. Authenticated users only account for a meager percentage of the addressable market. However, your website is bound to have unauthenticated traffic, and from a monetization perspective, you should definitely take advantage of this. 

If you notice a large volume of unauthenticated users on your website, you should consider using a universal ID that provides probabilistic methods as well.

What is a good universal ID solution providing both deterministic and probabilistic methods?

ID5 is one such universal ID that provides both deterministic and probabilistic methods, stored from a first-party context. This solution is made available for 100% of users, irrespective of the browser they might be using, or whether they have logged-in to your website or not.

A comprehensive ID graph is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, your advertisers would benefit from it by being able to enrich any existing first-party data. By comparing their data with the ones provided by the universal ID partner, they can assign every user with their own data and bundle it into a universal ID. 

By doing this both you and your advertisers will be able to identify the user as he/she moves around on the internet. Their user behavior can also be better analyzed, allowing advertisers to segment these users efficiently and deliver targeted ads. This will eventually result in greater revenue for advertisers, which in turn means greater revenue and eCPM for you. Make sure you keep certain prerequisites in mind while choosing the perfect ID graph.

You also need to evaluate how many publishers have adopted the universal ID solution that you have chosen. More the number of publishers using a particular solution, the more the number of users it is able to identify across the supply network, resulting in a more comprehensive identity graph. So check how popular your universal ID solution is with various publishers before you adopt it.

Questions you should ask the universal ID provider during evaluation:

  • Does the universal ID solution provide both – probabilistic solutions and deterministic solutions?
  • What type of transparency does the ID solution provide when it comes to the signals used to power the probabilistic algorithms, reconciliation-method type underlining the IDs, and expected results?
  • What is the footprint of the identity solution across multiple publishers?

Integration across various demand-side and supply-side partners

Most universal ID solutions in the market today require integration between supply-side and demand side partners for seamless attribution. Therefore, ensure that the ID solution you have chosen has the option of easy integration with numerous digital platforms, especially your managed header-bidding partners, your SSPs/ad exchanges, or even the DSPs of your advertisers to enable them to effortlessly carry out their ad campaigns.

In an ideal situation, the perfect universal ID should be able to connect with every other ID, irrespective of them being proprietary or standard. They should also be able to connect across every channel and platform, such as apps or websites, and desktops, mobile devices, or tablets. A universal ID that can achieve this will be able to provide you with the farthest reach.

Questions you should ask the universal ID provider during evaluation:

  • How many supply side and demand side platforms have adopted the universal ID solution?
  • Whether the user ID modules of the solution provider have been adopted by multiple platforms?
  • If using multiple identifiers, do the various universal ID solutions that you have chosen have a considerable footprint across multiple partners and platforms?

Privacy compliance

Third-party cookies are being banned owing to privacy concerns. Hence it makes no sense if you replace it with universal IDs, and the latter violates privacy creating the same problem it was supposed to negate.

Why is privacy important while choosing universal IDs?

Privacy is the keyword of today’s times, and ensuring privacy compliance with regulations like the GDPR, CCPA, LGPD, etc. is extremely crucial. You need to ensure that they are compliant with the existing privacy regulations, while also prioritizing user’s right to control the use of their personal data.

It is your responsibility to respect your user’s right to privacy and to provide them with the requisite transparency about how their data is being used, while also providing them the control of choosing whether they want to go ahead with it or not. The same goes while choosing the right universal ID partner, and your solution provider must prioritize these values just as intimately as you. A great way to ensure this is by taking a closer look at the data collection procedures and data partners that your universal ID partner has associated with.

Privacy laws might also be violated because of these identifier technologies being based on personal data. This data is practically being shared with multiple demand side companies to facilitate user tracking across many publishers who use the same universal ID solution. This is a concern that has yet not been addressed regarding universal IDs and should be evaluated before incorporating them on your website.

“Passing identifiers into the bid request — unless it’s directly to the buyer — isn’t a long-term path [for publishers] because it introduces complexity. Not only is raw data being passed from publisher to someone else without knowing what the price is, but there’s also a compliance issue.”

Damon Reeve, CEO, Ozone Project

Questions you should ask the universal ID provider during evaluation:

  • Do users have control over their data? Do they have the choice of opting out in the future if they so desire?
  • Is the universal ID solution using privacy-by-design protocols while capturing the data privacy preferences of users?
  • Are privacy-compliant methods used while collecting the data for the ID graphs?
  • Are users notified that data shared by them would be accessed by various partners across the supply chain? Have they consented to such sharing?
  • What measures has the universal ID solution put in place to ensure that information shared by you is only accessed by the monetization partners you had authorized in the bid stream?
  • How sophisticated is the data encryption that the universal ID solution provides?

Other considerations

Apart from the aforementioned considerations, there are some other important aspects that you need to evaluate while choosing a universal ID partner. These include:

Evaluating the ad revenue generation capabilities of your universal ID solution- Universal IDs have been chosen as a viable solution to replace third-party cookies owing to their ability to provide greater accuracy in match rates for DSPs resulting in higher bids, and as a result higher revenue through ad distribution. Ad revenue remains a focal point that you should be prioritizing. 

Therefore, while choosing a universal ID solution, prioritize those that aid in increasing ad revenue for your website. You should be looking for:

  • Solutions that decrease page load times, or don’t affect it hugely.
  • Solutions that guarantee increased efficiency through lighter code requirements and lesser bandwidth.
  • Solutions with better attribution across all devices.
  • Solutions that guarantee lesser loss of audience data. 
  • Solutions that guarantee the protection of publisher’s first-party data, just as diligently as they guarantee user’s privacy.

Evaluating how user experience is affected by a universal ID provider- User experience, especially page latency is a huge factor that you need to consider. Theoretically universal IDs promise to reduce page load times, as cookie syncing is arguably a more time-consuming process. 

However, in a bid to generate more demand, you might end up trying to sync with multiple universal ID providers. While that does increase scale, you need to do the same cautiously as each attempt from your webpage to sync with an ID can end up slowing the page down. Testing various solutions, in varying pages and varying degrees is the ideal path you should take.

What’s Next?

It cannot be argued that universal IDs enrich consented inventory making it extremely valuable for you as well as your advertisers. Therefore, looking at this scenario from a cost/effort and monetization perspective, you can also consider partnering with multiple universal ID partners to ensure providing comprehensive identifier-based solutions to as many advertisers as possible.

With options like Unified ID 2.0 and existing solutions like SharedID, it is most likely that you will end up working with multiple universal ID partners by the end of the next year. You also need to remain compliant with privacy laws – making the task of choosing the right ID solution more difficult. This makes it all the more crucial for you to make the right decision and choose carefully while considering your options. 

We have tried to clarify the important things you need to consider while choosing a universal ID partner. Have more questions? Feel free to let us know in the comments section.

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