The Trade Desk sees sharp increase in engagement with Unified ID 2.0

August 27, 20223 minute read

First-party customer data is a hot commodity, considered among a company’s most valuable resources. For years, businesses have used cookies to capture customer data, but as cookies become more difficult to solely rely on and as consumer privacy concerns mount, forward-thinking advertisers are turning to email as an alternative to collecting first-party data.

The Trade Desk believes in using multiple identifiers to maximize scale, including Unified ID 2.0 (UID2). Operating as an email-based identifier, UID2 is an industry-wide approach to identity that enables targeted advertising without the reliance on third-party cookies.

Specifically, when a consumer logs in to a website or an app with their email address, the publisher converts the email address into an encrypted identifier (UID2), which protects a consumer’s personally identifiable information (PII).

Connected TV (CTV) is becoming the fastest-growing logged-in audience, so it’s critical that there be an industry solution like UID2 that is persistent and can function across the web, mobile apps, and CTV.

Onboarding emails and converting to UID2s

With the launch of The Trade Desk’s “What Matters” brand campaign in Q4 2021, the company’s digital marketing team decided to onboard and convert email addresses from its customer relationship management (CRM) tool into UID2s. Alongside UID2s, the team also deployed third-party segments to target and serve up relevant, personalized display ads to specific audiences.

According to senior trader Thomas Fergus, prior to the rollout of The Trade Desk’s CRM onboarding solution, the team hadn’t been able to leverage first-party CRM data, specifically email, for their programmatic campaigns due to legal and privacy concerns. “As soon as we could use our platform to upload and convert email addresses to UID2s, we jumped at the opportunity to scale out our most relevant first-party data by connecting UID2s to other digital identifiers,” said Fergus.

Following the rollout, the team implemented anonymized audiences via UID2 by:

  1. Refining first-party audiences and creating segments based on lead qualification, title, account type, and region.
  2. Uploading email addresses to The Trade Desk's platform for translation into UID2.
  3. Activating UID2 segments via cross-device across appropriate campaigns.

Maximizing scale and achieving goals

“The use of UID2 directly solved for us not being able to target our own database of email records, which holds our most valuable audience data,” said digital marketing director Jeff Kerestes. And the results were quite impressive.

UID2 significantly helped The Trade Desk achieve its goals. In fact, while the messaging and creative was the same for all strategies, the click-through rate (CTR) for UID2-based display ads was 2.9 times higher than for The Trade Desk’s non-UID2 ads. The cost per acquisition (CPA) for the UID2-based segment was $1.60 compared to $5.37 for non-UID2-based segments (a 2.4 times improvement).

Recognizing the importance of balancing scale, performance, and privacy with programmatic advertising, The Trade Desk’s digital marketing team continues to leverage UID2 audiences, to the sustained improvement of CTR and CPA efficiencies.

Now that it can leverage emails directly for targeting in programmatic campaigns, The Trade Desk is also refining its first-party data strategy. “In fact, while we began this process by identifying high-value UID2 segments, we are now using these segments as seeds for lookalike modeling to broaden our reach and identify additional relevant users for ongoing brand objectives,” said Fergus.