How to Evaluate an Identity Solution

This article originally appeared in AdExchanger.

As Google closes the door on the era of the third-party cookie, the time is now for publishers and brands to prepare.

So what exactly is the right technology to deliver personalized customer experiences?

Knowing what to look for in an identity solution provider can be a challenge in itself, but clear criteria can be helpful. Here are my five recommendations for evaluating and testing providers as the clock winds down on third-party cookies.

1. Does the solution respect consumer privacy laws?

When approaching an identity solution provider, make sure that part of the discovery process is how that vendor stores and manages consumer data. Ask direct questions about how their practices align with GDPR and CCPA.

Make sure the vendor has the ability to integrate with consent management platforms (CMPs), which allow sites to obtain the appropriate legal consent from users to process personal data across their domain(s). These solutions allow users to give permission on how their data is handled when engaging with site content. It’s even better if the solution uses simple language around opt-in (ensuring that the user actually understands it) and enables consent to be captured in a progressive fashion to demonstrate value exchange.

2. Does the solution support value exchange over authentication? 

Whether your solution supports authenticated or unauthenticated users matters less than whether it is rooted in respect for privacy and supports consent management.

To be sure, there is massive value in authenticating users. Authentication creates more personalized experiences for consumers and the ability to optimize for conversion or monetization — and measure the results — for brands and publishers.

But it’s unlikely publishers will achieve even half of authenticated users by 2022 (about 30% at best, according to LiveRamp). Both publishers and marketers must ask the question of how they make it clear to the consumer that there's real value in them sharing their first-party data through things like newsletter sign-ups, giving discounts for initial purchases, localized weather alerts and more.

The right identity solution will help them do that.

3. Does the solution enrich your data to support behavioral targeting?

We know first-party data is great, but it needs a little boost to provide the accuracy and scale you need to truly drive 1:1 marketing and communications. There are identity solutions that enhance the quality of data you collect from your audiences, allowing you to use more pseudonymized data that’s fully compliant with privacy protection laws (GDPR, CCPA, etc.) for activities like targeting and optimization as opposed to first-party data alone. Using this first-party data enriched with hundreds of potential behavioral attributes, you can build segments for your audiences to improve the targeting, frequency, optimization and reporting of your advertising investment.

A publisher can learn if their data is being enriched in privacy-compliant ways by ensuring it’s being processed in accordance with one of the six circumstances outlined in the GDPR or by asking from where the data is being sourced.

4. Does the solution create a single view of the customers?

An identity solution must work seamlessly with your other tech. The solution must help you process data from multiple sources and then manage, analyze, segment and activate (and measure) it.

Taking a step back and identifying key data sources from across your company’s departments and functions — marketing, client support, sales and more — will be critical to building the right tech stack to deploy across your different consumer engagement touchpoints.

Not only do you have DMPs, CDPs and identity partners to consider, but also consent management and analytics technology. Together, they will enable you to monitor the full scope of the behavior of your consumers, and then engage with them across multiple channels, both online and offline.