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What Marketers Need to Know About Their Search for Identity

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In recent months, the martech and ad tech ecosystems were asked to adapt to significant change when it comes to how we can identify consumers at the other end of our message. Change accompanied by tough deadlines respective to an entire technological infrastructure that must comply. For marketers who’ve been bringing their own data into the ecosystem to plan, target and measure, there are unique considerations in taking on these change agents. As TransUnion’s Matt Spiegel and Winterberry Group’s Bruce Biegel discussed in a recent webinar, marketers need owned data to recognize, connect and engage with customers, but are also in need of ways to connect those insights to the marketplace, extending to more identifiers, behaviors and identity sets. That extension of data requires a multikey identity layer.

On the heels of that webinar, TransUnion released — Identity Playbook: The Opportunities of the Future Addressable Ecosystem — which lays out the challenges, opportunities and people-based strategies set to impact marketers and media companies over the next 18 months. For marketers, these include:

  • Increased regulation and data privacy standards: To adapt, more advertisers have built out in-housing capabilities to add a layer of control to their programmatic buying.

  • Working toward more personalization: This requires a delicate balance between customer data investments and privacy approaches — something especially challenging as consumers adopt more connected devices.

  • Increase in connected devices: Since the onset of the health pandemic in the US, the media landscape is more fragmented than ever — especially in advanced TV spaces.

  • Deprecation of cookies and mobile identifier changes: Every marketer must adapt to an ecosystem without cookies and with less of Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFAs); no alternative is yet standard and consensus around a single identifier is unlikely.

Through these uncertainties, I’m confident a comprehensive understanding of identity is the underlying current pushing through these challenges. Strong, validated identity graphs are the currency enabling the complete consumer picture to activate people-based marketing and omnichannel personalization across identifiers, as well as the requirements to power consent management.

Winterberry expects first-party identity graphs will gain rapid adoption within the next 36 months. Marketers working with TransUnion often look for a deterministic approach to scale their own identity graphs to drive better insights, resolution, personalization and targeting efforts based on customer data or a proprietary ID. For marketers looking to invest in these types of direct identity matches, one of the most important factors is vetting the privacy approaches of partners.

Scaling identity efforts can be from the perspective of gaining an omnichannel view of your customers, expanding to channels and devices where you may not have visibility, or expanding your view beyond your existing customers for acquisition. In matching to a third-party ID, the importance of an offline, PII-based dataset is critical. This offline foundation of identity is only growing more important with the deprecation of cookies and mobile identifier changes.

When it comes to personalization, many marketers are focused on resolving customer identity data to power holistic, relevant experiences. These experiences require both coverage and scale which each distinctly relate to a consumer-centric view.

  • Coverage: A depth of identity understanding across devices and channels

  • Scale: A breadth of understanding across customers — including a view of individuals as well as households

As Winterberry expects more marketers to increase identity investments over the next three years, we see these investments working to solve for a variety of pain points that require both short- and long-term, people-based strategies — from validating existing identity components to building a road map toward a comprehensive data identity backbone.

The first step is uncovering opportunities identity challenges could create for your business. Second, identify your gaps in capitalizing on these opportunities. Third, work to identify the right people-based provider to meet scale, accuracy and connectivity needs in an era of identity transformation. You can learn more in TransUnion’s identity playbook.

TransUnion is committed to emerging as a valuable provider in this transformational era, and we’ve established a path to accomplish this goal. I can’t think of a better example of this commitment than our recent acquisition of Signal which expanded on our real-time data collection, first-party data and customer intelligence capabilities.

We continue to build a persistent view of identity over time — one that focuses on deterministic data collection practices to create confident linkages between identity keys when creating our view of individuals and households. If you’re interested in learning more about TransUnion’s identity capabilities specifically, click here.


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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