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Identity Cookieless Identity Resolution

After Google kills the cookie: reach customers without exposing your data



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October 20, 2023 | 4 min read

With third-party cookies on the way out, and data privacy regulations always on the rise, brands face challenging times ahead when it comes to understanding and reaching their customers

Luckily for them, as data and identity converge in the data clean room space, it’s now possible to build customer intelligence without exposing your data, says Kyle Hollaway, SVP and head of global identity at Acxiom.

Building customer intelligence has always been a balancing act for brands. On the one hand, you want to learn more about people so you can give them the most relevant, personalized service and experience. On the other hand, you have to respect their preferences and privacy, and abide by the growing body of regulations around the use of personally identifiable information (PII).

Third-party cookies were once the lynchpin of digital advertising (or its crutch, depending on your point of view) and the go-to tool for brands, but with Google finally setting the schedule for their removal from Chrome in 2024, focus has shifted back to first-party data and identity.

The major challenge now is around how brands can extend and enhance their first-party data in a privacy-conscious way. And when we talk about identity and the sharing of data, we’re really talking about the mechanism by which brands can share and unite two or more datasets. Where and how are brands joining them together?

Data doesn't like to move around

A pretty solid rule of thumb is the less you have to move data, the better. So technologies like data clean rooms have emerged, which serve to minimize the unnecessary movement of data while maximizing the privacy and security protections around everyone’s data when they bring it together in this safe space.

The problem with most data clean rooms is that you’re working with data like hashed email addresses, so you’re unable to do much fuzzy or probabilistic matching. And if I have two different email addresses in two different brands’ data sets, they won’t be able to reliably identify me as the person behind the data.

The big question, therefore, is how do we bring more complex, more precise matching to the ecosystem while maintaining all the privacy protections – and even achieving zero PII exchange?

The intelligence/privacy trade-off no longer applies

The good news is deep customer intelligence and robust data privacy are no longer mutually exclusive.

Cloud data clean room providers like Snowflake, AWS, and Google are beginning to offer native capabilities within their applications, meaning brands can keep all their data within their own instance.

Where identity partners like Acxiom used to require you to bring the data to the identity graph, now we can bring the graph to the data – and when the location of data is everything, it’s a change that marks a new paradigm for privacy-by-design marketing.

The convergence of data and identity

This convergence of data and identity means when brands want to collaborate, they don’t need a middleman. They can basically cut that step out of the equation and handle everything within their own instance of a cloud data clean room.

The application knows what kind of partner data is available, and the brand can control what data is used by the application, so they can leverage their data without ever actually sharing PII with anyone.

Beyond match rates: putting customer intelligence in brands’ control

Brands no longer have to take their data to the identity graph. Instead, the graph comes to their data. Which means they’re not just buying match rates, which is one way to look at the old model. They’re investing in the customer intelligence that powers match rates – and much more: better analytics, smarter audience building, modelling, partner insights, better decisioning, and, of course, higher match rates for downstream platforms like publishers.

It’s a dramatic simplification of the regulatory and legal responsibilities that will continue to fall on all parties’ shoulders, brands included. And this simplification will lead to greater confidence – not to mention much shorter legal contracts to contend with.

Most importantly, it will give brands more control of their customer intelligence than ever before. And the ability to experiment, on their own and with a growing network of partners, to spin up new ideas, new campaigns, and new opportunities to connect meaningfully with customers – quickly, flexibly, and safely.

Identity Cookieless Identity Resolution


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