People-Based Marketing: What’s Next in Identity Resolution

Post on October 23, 2018 by Serena Palau

Serena Palau
Serena Palau Director, Product Marketing

We are excited to announce that as of October 10th, PubMatic’s Universal ID integrations with DigiTrust and The Trade Desk’s Unified Open ID ( are now live. PubMatic is proud to be the first SSP to build a flexible and extensible solution for web environments—capable of capturing both universal IDs from publishers, generating the ID if not available in the ad request, and sending the ID to multiple DSPs. This is the first step we are taking in a broader initiative to support identity resolution and people-based marketing on the open web.

For context, let’s take a quick step back to review how we got here and the larger implications for this solution.

People, Not Devices

People-based marketing, according to Forrester,  is “the ability to perform targeting and measurement at the level of real individuals by resolving consumer identity across all digital and offline channels.” Simply put, it is the holy grail for marketers. However, the proliferation of proprietary user identifiers across online and offline touchpoints, and reliance on pixel synchronization from billions of third-party cookies, has resulted in major challenges in deploying people-based targeting and delivering personalized digital content on the open web.

Historically, the duopoly (Google, Facebook) and other walled gardens have had the upper-hand with people-based marketing programs, due to their access to deterministic data.  While most major DSPs have built or licensed a combination of probabilistic and deterministic identity solutions (i.e. cross-device identity graphs, first-party data integrations, multi-touch attribution measurement) to better connect brands to people, not devices, none of these independent offerings have compared to Google or Facebook in terms of scale, accuracy and ease of use. As a result, Google and Facebook have enjoyed 90% of the growth in the global digital advertising market.

Still, the walled garden approach has led to opaque data practices, such as not passing data back to improve frequency capping or closing the loop on attribution, spurring demand from marketers to implement transparent and open solutions that reduce walled garden reliance while ensuring consumer privacy requirements are addressed.

Beyond Walled Gardens

As a result, the last year has ushered in the formation of industry-wide open identity initiatives for people-based interoperability, such as the Advertising ID Consortium, which will use LiveRamp’s cross device graph. Additionally, the DigiTrust ID (from IAB Tech Lab) and The Trade Desk’s Unified Open ID were created to have a unified cookie ID for the web. All three are working towards the creation of a universal ID to reduce the number of third-party pixel sync requests or to increase availability of people-based identifiers.

The availability and adoption of people-based marketing and universal ID solutions stands to benefit the entire advertising ecosystem:

  1. Consumers benefit from improved browsing experiences, more relevant and personalized content, and privacy protections.
  2. Brands garner greater ROI from targeting efficiency, less data loss and lower operational costs.
  3. Advertisers gain access to more transparent data for better optimization, frequency management, and campaign performance.
  4. DSPs see greater bid-opportunities around addressable audiences and scale from compatibility with more impressions.
  5. Publishers benefit from faster load times and improved experiences from their visitors, as well increased yield and monetization as the demand increases around addressable audiences.

Who is Responsible for Identity Solutions?

Despite clear ecosystem-wide benefits, people-based targeting has been designated as a marketer and buy-side problem, with DSPs and agencies leading the charge in creating and advocating for people-based solutions. The absence of a clear supply-side perspective, however, is not entirely surprising.

Cross-device targeting and first-party data activation capabilities are critical for DSP competitive advantage and also subject to data leakage, leading to less collaboration among buy-side participants and their sell-side counterparts. Likewise, the deterministic signals from advertiser and publisher logins, email, CRM or other first party data contain PII, creating potential privacy and legal hurdles around sharing and collaboration, at scale.

The lack of active participation from the supply-side has also resulted in slower overall adoption. Universal IDs are not yet available in the bid-requests at scale and DSPs have not prioritized broad adoption within their bidding algorithms.

And, while the industry at large has come out in support of the creation of a universal ID, competing priorities around whose cookie domain space serves as a shared ID asset has led to conflicts of interest and shifting support from the buy-side. While all three ID solutions advance the mission of making people-based marketing widely available on programmatic channels, DigiTrust stands alone as an independent, neutral, non-profit solution.

PubMatic Leading the People-Based Charge for SSPs

PubMatic believes it is critical that the supply-side support innovations around people-based marketing and identity resolution to maintain the sustainability of the open web. And we are actively leading the development of an open universal ID solution, with Anand Das, PubMatic’s CTO and Co-Founder, serving as co-chair on the DigiTrust ID Working Group within the IAB Tech Lab. Likewise, we are committed to partnering with The Trade Desk’s Unified Open ID and the Advertising ID Consortium to bring a flexible, solution-agnostic offering to our demand partners.

In the coming months, we will be working towards integrating support for these IDs into Prebid and OpenWrap. We are also exploring cross-device opportunities to support the sharing of cross-device graphs in the bid request.

The challenge of identity resolution is an ecosystem-wide issue with a clear-cut role for SSPs as a privacy-compliant, data-steward of publisher specific audiences. We will continue to innovate and integrate with the leading industry solutions to simplify a fragmented and complex digital landscape. In building “the best pipes” for people-based marketing, PubMatic can connect marketers with addressable audiences in premium environments, at scale, and provide demand partners greater technology flexibility, data transparency and ROI.

Want to Know More?

To learn more about our solutions, check out our product pages or contact us.