Honest conversations about identity with Dave Pickles and guest Joanna O’Connell, VP & principal analyst, Forrester

May 26, 2021
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The cookie countdown is less than a year away, as Google will cease supporting them in its Chrome browsers. Without question, the issue is top of mind for the industry, as cookies fuel everything from targeting to measurement. The Trade Desk caught up with Joanna O’Connell, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, and asked her if one identity solution will rule them all; what advertisers should be thinking when adopting identity solutions; and how the consumer fits into this brave new world. This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

How should marketers be thinking about the recent conversations around privacy and identity?  

It’s important to first look backwards whenever talking about consumer privacy and identity. The way the digital advertising industry addressed the question of access to consumer data — as freely and ubiquitously available — is key here. Today, as a result, we find a swirl of forces re-writing the rules of consumer data access, among them third-party cookie deprecation. The challenge for the industry is creating solutions that respect consumer choice and transparency while helping to meet the needs of advertisers and publishers.

Will advertisers require multiple identity solutions, or will there be one solution to rule them all?

There will be multiple identity solutions and approaches in-market for several reasons. Specific identity solutions where there’s proprietary access to a given data set; different approaches that are used to build different identity graphs; different levels of energy around an industry push for adoption of standards. This is what brands will need to contend with as they think about creating their own go-forward data-driven advertising strategy with a new consumer-first lens.

What is the largest hurdle for identity solutions such UID 2.0 to gain traction?

It depends on what we’re defining as “gaining traction.” It could mean a meaningful number of advertisers and publishers move to adopt one or two common solutions. And that is already happening. But there are unanswered questions, such as consumer response to requests to share their data in exchange for access to content. Because this isn’t just about advertisers and publishers adopting solutions — consumers need to participate, too.

What will be the most important element(s) to making any of the proposed identity solutions successful?  

It’s up to the industry – via the individual publishers and brands who are on the front lines of collecting direct, permissioned data from consumers — to make a reasonable, clear case as to what the value exchange is, how the data will be used, and what the rules of the road are. And, from an addressability standpoint, there are other environments to consider. This is about more than the browser-based desktop world. But again, it ultimately needs to come back to the consumer — developing solutions that are transparent and controllable.

What should advertisers be looking for when they assess identity solutions and partners? 

First, they should ask themselves, “What do I mean when I think about identity?” And, “why do I need identity?” Not every use case necessarily requires individual addressability. There are numerous targeting use cases from pure prospecting to re-engaging lapsed customers. Additionally, this is about more than targeting — a measurement use case may warrant a different approach than an ad targeting use case.