Identity 2020 – the event write up

  • Posted by Valbona Gjini
  • On Dec 19, 2019

What does the future hold for Identity? In order to answer the question, ID5 organised Identity 2020, the first industry event fully dedicated to the hottest topic in digital advertising.

ID5 invited experts from publishers, technology vendors, consultancies, and brands to share their knowledge and opinions regarding strategies and solutions that can help prepare for a future where 3rd party cookies are no longer available. If you were not able to attend the event, read the write up

We have put together a write up for all of those who were not able to attend the event.

The event was opened by Mathieu Roche, co-founder and CEO at ID5, who welcomed the audience and gave an overview of the challenges with identity and why it is important to solve them for the industry.

ID5 sees identity as a three-dimensional topic:

  • Cross-device: the ability to connect devices to users,
  • Online to offline: the connection of offline and online behaviour of consumers
  • Cross-domain: the ability to identify consumers across the websites they visit

The latter is the area of focus for ID5.

Cross-domain identification is done today through 3rd party cookies, but it’s becoming more challenging every day. Users have an ID per browser and per platform, and those IDs must be matched between platforms. The matching process happens on publisher websites and creates data leakage, page latency and privacy compliance issues, ignoring the fact that it is inefficient and often ineffective. 

The current identification process is also faced with technical and regulatory challenges. Browsers have decided that 3rd party cookies should be restricted and regulatory bodies have begun to question and challenge the way the industry processes consumer data and shares it across platforms.

Although the identification method has been, so far, the best way to sell publishers’ inventory and data, it created accountability problems. We need to know who we share data with and no publisher or platform knows everyone they sync with.

The impact of cookie syncing and other third party redirects – Chloe Grutchfield, RedBud

Mathieu’s introduction was followed by a presentation by Chloe Grutchfield. RedBud’s co-founder presented the eye-opening results of research done on the impact of cookie matching on publisher websites, with regards to privacy compliance, data security and performance.

RedBud extracted a subset of 20,000 scans of top news and magazine website in the UK, Germany and France, using their proprietary tool, DIAGNOSE. The key findings of the research have been collected in this infographic.

Publishers’ point of view – a panel moderated by Joanna Burton

After Chloe’s presentation, Joanna Burton, ID5’s Chief Strategy Officer, moderated a publisher panel with Tom Pickworth from Mail Online, Sebastien Noel from Groupe Le Monde and Caroline Engstrom from Leeads.

Joanna opened the panel by asking publishers if identification is a legal or a commercial issue.

Caroline was the first to answer and said that 60% of the buyers they work with in Sweden have some sort of targeting in their campaigns and when they can’t identify site visitors they either refrain completely from buying impressions or they buy a lot less, which results in loss of revenue for publishers. 

According to Sebastien, it’s a commercial issue. Most people are not aware of the issues presented by RedBud.  At the moment, the problem is more visible to publishers who have to manage CMPs and consent strings. It’s not an issue today at Le Monde, whom, as a premium publisher, is very close to their readers, but it’s likely to become a problem soon, he said.

For Tom, identification is a technical issue. He started learning about identifiers three years ago, when Digitrust started getting publicity in Europe and became interested in reducing cookie syncs and speeding up their websites. When Safari released its Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP) and started blocking some of the ways platforms could track users in Safari, everyone became interested in identity.

Mail Online has already started to address the issue. They began to collaborate with ID5 and Digitrust and built a real-time analytics platform to track performance. After running tests for a month, they saw an increase in CPM of 20 – 30%.

The next question asked by the moderator was about GDPR compliance and how it impacted their organisations. 

Caroline explains that the Swedish market decided to completely run on legit interest, so very few publishers have a CMP today. Today, she said, the GDPR hasn’t had an impact on revenue, but moving forward they know  CMPs will be necessary as DSPs will demand consent string from publishers. It’s also needed to use services like ID5. The adoption of CMPs in the Swedish market will start in 3 to 6 months, she predicts.

Sebastien added that Le Monde, as a premium publisher, didn’t have many issues with their direct business when the GDPR was implemented because they focused on contextual targeting. Thanks to the strong context and publisher name, Le Monde didn’t see their direct business decrease last year.

On the programmatic side of the business (which represents 40 – 45% of the total business), though, they had some difficulties. They decided to build their own CMP, and found that sending the consent string was problematic, which led to a rapid decrease in revenue and bids. It’s been difficult to figure out the exact reasons behind the drop.

Le Monde is also working on building a unique login for users and on implementing version 2.0 of the TCF, both of which are to prepare for the future and improve their relationship with buyers.

Joanna then asked the panel if it is time for premium contextual targeting.

It’s already the case for some premium publishers, according to Sebastien, but not everybody is in the same position. For Tom, contextual has its place, but with all the technology that has been built in order to be more effective in programmatic, wouldn’t it be a shame not to use it? Moreover, if the industry goes back to contextual, then brands would shift even more of their buying to the walled gardens since they will always have the data needed for targeting.

When Joanna asked the panel what they expect from the industry when it comes to identity, Tom suggested that the industry shouldn’t wait for a winner within the identity provider space. If everyone waits for one provider to win, none of the solutions will actually succeed. The other panellists called for unity within the industry, because, as Sebastien said, identity isn’t just a publisher issue. It’s a market topic that will give us the opportunity to operate more efficiently and to provide more transparency on the results of campaigns.

The last question of the session was: where will we be a year from now? 

Caroline said that hopefully, as an industry, we will be more aligned on what works and what doesn’t. For Sebastien, next year we’ll know what solutions work best and bring better results. In Tom’s opinion, a year from now, more and more companies will have implemented ID solutions. Privacy will be taken more seriously and there will be more constructive conversations with the ICO and browsers. 

Case study on Universal ID – Kenneth Kulbok, Avocet

The publisher panel was followed by a presentation by Kenneth Kulbok from Avocet on the first Universal ID implementation.

After giving an introduction of Avocet, Kenneth started talking about why and how Avocet decided to work on a Universal ID pilot in partnership with ID5 and Canton Marketing Solutions.

As an industry, we need an identifier for targeting, attribution and frequency capping, said Kenneth. In order to match the users who saw an ad to those who bought from the brand, we need a deterministic data set. That’s what Avocet are trying to do with ID5. 

User syncing is not just a pain for publishers but also for DSPs. There are too many pixels and tags, and as a consequence, pages slow down. It’s an inefficient system and browser changes are making the process even more challenging, he pointed out.

Avocet has probably a dozen user syncs in place. The independent DSP needs to sync with everyone it transacts with on a one to one basis and match rates need to be as high as possible. The whole process consumes a huge amount of bandwidth.

The adoption of shared IDs brings different benefits for demand-side platforms:

  1. Most of the syncs disappear if we all use a universal ID. Moreover, having someone taking care of synchronisations is more efficient and lets DSPs focus on hitting performance goals. 
  2. It enables recognition in environments where there are no third-party cookies (Firefox and Safari).
  3. It makes it easier to comply with privacy laws – if there is a third party that only passes DSPs the information they have the right to use, they are compliant by proxy.

Avocet believes in ID5’s vision, which is why they decided to work together on the implementation of the Universal ID.

But what does it take to implement ID5’s Universal ID? Kenneth explained the process step by step:

  1. Avocet integrated with ID5 – Avocet sets up a bi-directional user sync with ID5 
  2. Publisher integration – Publisher adopts ID5 via a Prebid module and passes its Universal ID to an SSPs
  3. Supply chain adoption
    • SSP passes Universal ID in the bid request to downstream partner (exchange or DSP0
    • Exchange passes the ID in bid its request to DSP
  4. DSP adoption
    • Extract the Universal ID from the bid request
    • Check if there is an ID5 to Avocet ID mapping
    • If yes, apply Avocet data (e.g. frequency caps)
    • If no, ensure frequency caps are stored and linked back to ID5 ID
  5. Un-filter the bidstream – ensure that all traffic, including users without an Avocet ID,  is sent to the DSP

Avocet has worked with ID5, Canton Marketing Solutions and their sporting brand client, and with a major UK publisher on a pilot campaign. The goals of the pilot were to:

  • understand the impact on supply availability and reach when a Universal ID is present
  • understand the potential to target and frequency cap in browsers where third-party cookies are restricted (i.e. Safari & Firefox)

The pilot campaign was not completed before Identity 2020 took place, but Kenneth was still able to share some of the initial findings:

  • The implementation was relatively easy and quick to set up
  • Nearly 100% of traffic received by the DSP has either an ID5 or an Avocet ID
  • It’s been difficult to open up access to unmatched traffic
  • Driving adoption requires the whole supply chain

Centralised user identification is going to be a major focus area for Avocet. The job of a DSP is to hit performance goals and that’s what they should be evaluated on. It shouldn’t be a DSP’s job to build the best matching capabilities in order to deliver on their primary objectives, said Kenneth, before taking questions from the audience.

Fireside chat with Coty – Kristina Kaganer, Coty and Wayne Blodwell, The Programmatic Advisory

The last session of the day was a fireside chat between Wayne Blodwell, The Programmatic Advisory’s CEO and Kristina Kaganer, Global VP, Commerce Data Products & Analytics at Coty.

Wayne’s first question to Kristina was about data strategy and how they approach data within the Coty group. Kristina explained that from a global perspective, they implement the best tools and best practices in order to enable the local markets to operate in the best possible way.

From a local perspective, you need to take into account that different markets have lots of nuances and needs, which can be hard to communicate back to a global team, she said. It’s important for global teams to make sure they capture everything across the markets. The recipe for success is to take a global approach to strategy and a local approach to implementation.

When asked about the stakeholders needed to engage with in order to agree on how data is used, Kristina shared a real-life example. She spoke about a digital transformation project that she recently worked on, which involved the commerce, trade, marketing, and local market commercial teams. Having everyone’s buy-in was pivotal to the success of the project. Historically, the stakeholder would have only been the brand and the outcome would have been the adoption of lower funnel technologies. For the digital transformation project, they got different stakeholders involved and were able to find use cases that helped them drive their data technology strategy forward.

The next question was on the major challenges that Kristina faces with regards to analytics and targeting, given the increase in regulations.

Kristina said that there is no comment language in analytics. From User IDs to bounce rates, technology partners have created very complicated words, but they don’t help you understand what that actually means for your business. It’s important to take an analyst’s point of view and turn it into a business success rate. That will allows to get buy-in from other teams.

Kristina also spent some words on targeting and on the different approaches that people take. If you decide to only target people you know, you’ll end up with a very limited audience. On the other hand, when you choose contextual targeting, you need to be aware that you will probably target people who may not be in your target audience. What is the amount of waste that you are ready to accept? It’s important to tie your analytics strategy to the targeting strategy.

Regulations are making the targeting process more challenging, she added. As a brand, you know that there are legislations. You also know that every partner you talk to has taken a different approach to how to implement them. However, as a brand, you need to listen to your legal team’s interpretation of the legislation. It’s difficult to tell what’s right and what’s wrong and to have a unified opinion. 

The next question to Kristina was about the major challenges she faces with analytics and targeting, with regards to restrictions that browsers are implementing.

Kristina said that the biggest challenge is that when we look at in-browser data only and try to figure out what the person’s mentality was, we tend to assume that is the entire story, even though we know that’s not true. 

Kristina believes that eventually, we will get one single methodology to identify users. When it comes to identity, a few years ago, everyone was looking at deterministic data. Today we accept probabilistic data as the most valuable segments are often those you have lower match rates with. We are using clues that people leave behind to understand what they want; that’s why probabilistic has come into play.

Mathieu closed the event with a few final considerations and thanked the speakers and the audience.

If you were not able to make it to Identity 2020, we hope you’ll be able to join us next year for Identity 2021. Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about our next events.