Stop Calling It an Apocalypse—It's an Identity Revolution

A sustainable approach to a cookie-less identity begins and ends with the consumer

People have grown increasingly wary of the ways their online behaviors are being tracked, bought and sold. With little to no insight into how their data is being used, consumers are frustrated with the experience of intrusive, irrelevant advertising and are demanding greater transparency from the government and industry.

Calls for privacy and control have put pressure on corporations to curtail user tracking, leading to browser deprecation of third-party cookies and Apple’s revised IDFA policy. Unlike the EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA, private regulations pose new challenges to marketers with shortened timelines, lack of clarity and changing policies.

But let’s be clear: The demise of third-party cookies is far from apocalyptic for the marketing industry. In fact, this identity revolution is a necessary next step in maintaining thriving consumer relationships in an evolving digital landscape, where trust is built upon user consent in return for a value exchange.

With trust comes data

Despite concerns, consumers still voice a preference for relevant and personalized digital brand experiences. In a 2019 MAGNA IPG Media Lab and Verizon Media study, a majority of participants said they’re willing to voluntarily offer personal information in exchange for tangible benefits, such as free content or product coupons and discounts. The same study found that 86% of consumers see how the use of their data benefits their online shopping experience, stating that websites are more enjoyable and easier to navigate when they offer tailored experiences. 

Crucial to this equation? Consumer trust. Consumers won’t share data at the cost of personalization if they don’t trust the partner. Conversely, if they trust the partner, they’ll willingly volunteer information in exchange for enhanced experiences in return.

These shifting dynamics are forcing marketers and publishers to find alternative solutions that maintain quality user experiences and deliver consistent revenue, while honoring consumer privacy preferences.

A multi-pronged approach for a sustainable identity future

As a large publisher with a robust pool of first-party data, Verizon Media is taking an integrated three-pronged approach to building sustainable identity solutions with consumer privacy and choice at the center.

1. Unified identity solution. Verizon Media ConnectID empowers advertisers to draw on hundreds of millions of opted-in users from across Verizon Media’s global portfolio of owned and operated media properties, as well as the industry’s only independent ad platform with a full-stack DSP and SSP.  Because users are logged in, all signals aggregated are entirely consent-based, meaning there’s a real value exchange that drives deeper, more sustainable relationships with consumers.

2. Industry and data partnerships. To ensure market readiness, it’s necessary to look for  synergies that can deliver results today, like third-party data partnerships that are addressable and first party sourced, customer data platforms (CDPs) and CRM onboarding, and deep collaboration with industry bodies. The Verizon Media ConnectID solution is integrated with leading data providers like Acxiom, Adstra, Equifax IXI, Experian, Neustar, Throtle. We also continue to engage with industry partners, including IAB’s Project Rearc and ANA’s Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media (PRAM) to develop privacy-friendly solutions for adoption at scale. 

3. Next-gen ID-less audience solutions. Marketers will be able to target based on interests, demographics, and contextual signals to deliver and maintain ad relevance—all without depending on any identity. Verizon Media’s aggregated measurement solutions leverage cohort-level and diverse omnichannel data to access insights, evaluate impact and drive performance.

At Verizon Media, we are well-positioned to help brands, advertisers and publishers find new paths to success in this changing marketplace by taking an integrated approach to sustainable identity, one that is centered on consumer privacy and choice, and focused on upholding total client confidence in our data compliance.

James Colborn leads the global data solutions team for Verizon Media. The team’s focus is the application of Verizon Media’s first-party data assets to enhance the sale of media for Verizon Media. James has worked in the digital advertising ecosystem for the past 25 years, working for companies such as Microsoft, AOL and Verizon Media.