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RampUp Recap: Consumer Identity and Privacy to Replace an Overdue Obsession With Cookies

Krista Panoff
Blog Post03/26/2020
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It feels like another lifetime thinking back to when our team attended RampUp earlier this month. With the news that it was our last in-person event for a while, what I learned from colleagues and industry leaders in San Francisco has been on my mind a lot lately.

I was thrilled to take part in LiveRamp’s RampUp conference again this year. I saw familiar themes like data, putting the consumer first and privacy, but this year, these points held more serious weight.

There’s still a sense of urgency due to recent browser blockades and regulatory pushes in our rearview, as well as the speculation and proposed legislation that wait on the horizon. The destination is clear — we need to get something done and we need to do it right — but many routes were suggested at the event.

If you missed it, or you’re still reeling from some of the frayed discourse, here are some of the key takeaways I think will continue to be relevant for our industry.

Cookie cleanup
Google’s recent announcement drummed up a lot of conversation — particularly speculation the two-year lifespan on cookies may be downsized. There’s an eagerness to find a solution sooner rather than later, with many I spoke to focused on putting a plan together in the next year. Next steps proposed at various sessions ranged from contextual targeting to identity-based movements.

Most agreed the industry was propped up on cookies for too long. They’re often inaccurate and difficult to track and measure, regularly making them the problem child of the open web.

That’s why TransUnion has made some big bets around identity in recent years, growing a deterministic identity graph that links back to the consumer. With additional ways to transact on people-based identifiers like IPs, hashed emails and PII, identity is not only a cookie alternative, but offers a more comprehensive view of consumers and increased fluidity across the web.

People-based identifiers are also critical to enable consent and opt-outs. Liane Nadeau, vice president and director of programmatic at Digitas pointedly noted in one session that as we move ahead, we should start with consent to build an ecosystem from the ground up where consumers have more control.

Privacy, please
Consent and control were heavy-hitting themes in many sessions, acknowledging their unyielding relationship to growing state-driven legislative momentum across the U.S.

Some are creating diverse groups of stakeholders to address corporate privacy decisions that represent consumers with varying expectations. Many hope that amid these muddy waters will arise a federal law, providing data owners a clear framework of requirements and guidelines to improve consumer control.

Consumer-first love
The common thread across these trends is the consumer — a topic earning a lot of respect and airtime at RampUp. Many experts posited consumers want relevant, value-adding experiences. Proposals on executing these varied from audience targeting to the effective analysis of data attributes to maintaining addressability.

All these bids require the ability to know the consumer on the other side. Using identity to power a consumer-first approach enables marketers to let that foundation inform everything from data collection to storytelling to omnichannel activation. With more relevant experiences driven by precise data collection and activation processes, we can build trust into not only final interactions, but into the infrastructure that makes those interactions possible.

It all comes back around
The drive for a cookieless world where consumers and privacy come first, and marketers can understand the person over the device, is a positive one. To solve for one of these values in a responsible, sustainable way, we need to solve for all while tackling how they’re linked across our ecosystem and supply chain. Therefore, the infrastructure to support this new world must be built around the consumer to drive confident, addressable interactions with transparency and control baked into every step of the process.

Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts, ideas and time with myself and the TransUnion team at RampUp. I hope we can continue these important conversations, even when we can’t be together. If you missed us in San Francisco or you just want to connect on any of the themes above and the right approach for this new era, please use the contact form below and someone from our team will reach out directly.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TransUnion. The information contained in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. You should consult your own attorney or financial adviser regarding your particular situation. TransUnion does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute an endorsement by TransUnion. TransUnion LLC and its subsidiaries and affiliates (“TransUnion”) make no endorsement, recommendation, or representation with respect to the information provided herein. For complete details of TransUnion products, visit

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