Universal ID solutions seem to be all the rave in 2024 as organizations scramble to prepare for the deprecation of third-party cookies in Google Chrome, which has been announced (so far) for 2025.

 

Yet, it is surprisingly difficult to get a clear, easy-to-understand picture of these solutions, how they work, and what choices are available on the market.

 

In this article, we solve that issue by giving you a rundown of Universal ID solutions before explaining how we at Didomi can assist you with implementing them.

 

Summary

 

 


 

What are Universal ID solutions?

 

Identity (ID) solutions, sometimes called Universal ID solutions, are an alternative to third-party cookies that can help identify a person across digital environments using a unique identifier built upon one or a set of attributes. 

 

These solutions generally fall into three distinct categories or approaches:

 

  • Deterministic ID solutions rely on relatively permanent attributes such as email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses. While highly specific, these solutions are harder to implement at scale.

  • Probabilistic ID solutions use more temporary attributes, from IP addresses to user agents and device details. These solutions lack precision but can offer greater scale.

  • Hybrid ID solutions combine both approaches.

 

In layman's terms, Universal ID solutions aim to assign users an ID that can follow them online, feeding a profile to offer better, more targeted experiences. The leading solutions are built with data privacy in mind, using data minimization and security principles such as hashing and encryption to comply with regulations and prevent the risk of data breaches.

 

Why the need for Universal ID solutions? The emergence of these new technologies comes as a result of the regulatory and business changes in the digital space in the past few years, as mentioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab in a guide published on the topic of ID solutions updated this year

 

“Recent developments - both regulatory changes and actions taken by large platforms - operating systems and web browsers, have resulted in diminished availability of traditional consumer identifiers like 3rd party cookies and mobile identifiers e.g. Apple’s ID for Advertising (IDFA).

 

This has created a need for development of alternative technologies and methods to identify consumer interactions across the open internet in a privacy compliant manner”

 

- IAB Tech Lab, Identity Solutions Guidance, 2023 (Source: IAB Tech Lab: ID Solutions Guidance)

 

Universal ID solutions are particularly relevant to advertisers, marketers, and publishers for a variety of use cases, from campaign planning (e.g., matching or discovering audiences) to activation (e.g., buying or selling impressions for specific segments) and attribution (e.g., reporting on clicks, reach, or frequency).

 

Benefits of Universal ID solutions

 

Among the main benefits of Universal ID solutions for companies, the most commonly cited are:

 

  • Unique identifiers are more persistent and “stickier” than third-party cookies

  • Choices are applied everywhere, across all environments, across devices and sites.

  • ID solutions allow universe-to-universe matching, ie, aligning and reconciling different audience data sets from multiple sources.

  • They allow measurement capabilities outside of Google, such as Safari and Firefox.

 

On the other hand, ID solutions are restricted (for now) by their limited adoption and fragmented nature. While third-party cookies offered a universal solution for companies, the lack of interoperability between universal ID providers requires organizations to make extra efforts to put together a comprehensive strategy. 

 

Of course, Universal ID solutions also impact end users. The main benefits for general consumers online are:

 

  • Improved personalization: Universal ID solutions enable better tracking and understanding of user preferences across devices and platforms, allowing for better ad personalization.

  • Consistent user experience (UX): Universal ID solutions help maintain a consistent user experience by providing persistent identifiers, making interactions smoother and more cohesive.

  • Reduced ad and consent fatigue: By identifying users throughout their journey, Unique IDs can help manage the frequency of ads shown to them, preventing fatigue and improving their overall ad experience.

 

What about consent? It’s important to remember that Universal ID solutions do not exempt organizations from collecting it. On the contrary, they rely on consent as a legal basis for processing data and, as such, a CMP to collect, manage, store, and leverage that consent. This is where Didomi comes in.

 

How can Didomi help you implement an ID solution?

 

While Didomi does not provide native integrations with Unique ID providers, our API allows them to work with our solutions to collect and manage consent. We support these initiatives and collaborate with these providers to further the development of robust alternatives to third-party cookies for our clients.

 

We worked with Utiq, for example, to develop a Didomi x Utiq implementation guide that you can access on their website to start integrating our solutions.

 

Despite a common misconception, alternatives to third-party cookies do not exempt you from collecting consent. On the contrary, consent remains the main legal basis for most data processing activities, including those leveraged by Universal ID solutions. 

 

Our Consent Management Platform (CMP), as such, remains a critical part of the equation. To learn more about how we enable Universal ID solutions in our solutions and how you can get started, book a call with one of our experts:

 

Talk to an expert

 

Universal ID solutions: Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

 

Will Universal ID solutions replace the need for Consent Management Platforms (CMP)?

No, Universal ID solutions will not replace the need for a Consent Management Platform (CMP). These solutions rely on user consent and, as such, require a way to collect, store, and leverage consent (such as a CMP) to function.

 

What is the impact of Universal ID solutions on end-users?

Universal ID solutions can enhance the user experience (improved personalization, reduced consent, and ad fatigue) while reinforcing the importance of user consent and data privacy, ensuring end-users are protected and informed about how their data is used.

 

What are the main differences between Unique IDs and third-party cookies?

Unique IDs and third-party cookies serve similar purposes in tracking and identifying users across digital environments but operate differently. 

 

While third-party cookies are stored in the user's browser and can be accessed by any website that includes the third-party's code, Unique IDs are often based on more persistent attributes like email addresses or device IDs, making them more stable and harder to block. 

 

How do Universal ID solutions handle user consent and privacy?

Universal ID solutions rely on explicit user consent for data processing and tracking and often incorporate privacy-enhancing technologies to protect user data and provide transparency and control to users over how their data is used.

 

What are some common use cases for Universal ID solutions in marketing?

Universal ID solutions are used in various marketing activities, including audience targeting and segmentation, cross-device tracking, personalization of content and ads, campaign measurement and attribution, frequency capping, and fraud detection. 

 

These solutions help marketers deliver users more relevant and personalized experiences while optimizing their advertising spend.