Guest Q&A with Mathieu Roche, CEO and co-founder at ID5, on solving the identity challenge, empowering publishers to grow sustainable advertising revenues, and offering brands a valid alternative to the Walled Gardens.
ID5 is described as an identity infrastructure provider, can you explain more about the ID5 business?
We created ID5 because we realised that Identity underpins many areas that make advertising valuable for brands and publishers and that the open web has a massive disadvantage compared to the Walled Gardens when it comes to the ability to identify users.
Our mission has always been to redefine the way we identify consumers in order to make the process privacy compliant, more efficient and to create an infrastructure that works for the whole Open Web.
When our journey began in 2017, our goal was to improve the cookie matching, which has been the method that platforms use to share data with each other and to identify users across domains. We started by launching Connect, a centralised cookie matching service designed to simplify user ID synchronisation. Connect allowed us to build the foundation needed to prove value of our service and drive adoption, the prerequisites which allowed us to successfully launch our Universal ID solution. Chrome’s announcement on the depletion of third-party cookies made Universal ID even more relevant and valuable. The solution helps publishers and their monetisation partners to identify 100% of users even in cookie-less environments and enables them to increase the value of their inventory and data.
User privacy has always been at the core of our product and business strategy. Our privacy-by-design technology leverages the IAB’s Transparency and Consent Framework to capture consent signals to ensure that users’ preferences are respected throughout the programmatic value chain.
Why have you partnered with Eyeota?
As a leader in the data and audience engagement space, Eyeota is an obvious partner for ID5 and a strong advocate for us in the market. User identification is critical and we managed to build a strong solution to this problem for them. And because of their reputation and scale, they have been a great partner to promote the use of the ID5 ID by other platforms.
Can you tell us more about how you work with Eyeota?
We started by testing our user identification service in a few European markets at the end of 2018. Based on successful early results, we extended our service to the whole region, and added the critical North American market to the mix at the end of 2019. We also tested APAC, which was at the time an early region for us, but grew quickly during H1 2020 and was added to our scope of work in July. We are now expanding our operation to cover cookie-less users, with a view to strengthening our relationship on this topic in 2021.
Where does ID5 fit in the identity landscape?
The identity space is getting more crowded as the 2022 deadline approaches. This year, we’ve seen many more companies launching identity solutions. There are two main aspects that differentiate identity solutions from each other.
There is a group of companies that is solely focused on building identification infrastructure for the industry to operate and another group of businesses that offers identity as a complimentary service to their core products. ID5 belongs to the first group. We don't buy or sell media or data, we only focus on providing an identity solution. That makes us neutral and frees us from any conflict of interest with clients and partners.
The second differentiator is the way they approach identity. Many companies think that the future of identification should be limited to authenticated users, which is a very small proportion of the total addressable market. At ID5 we think that we, as an industry, should have a more inclusive approach to identification. We use both deterministic and probabilistic methods and leverage a variety of signals to identify users who have not been authenticated but that have given consent to use their data. By combining both approaches we can offer both accuracy and scale to brand and publishers.
Are there any regional differences in the approach to identity?
Challenges are the same globally as we operate on the same infrastructure but they are perceived differently around the world. In Asia, there is a large proportion of traffic coming from mobile devices so the restriction of mobile IDs can become an issue. On the other hand, in Europe and in North America where there are lots of desktop users, the deprecation of third party cookies represents a big challenge.
The level of privacy awareness represents another big regional difference. There are several European companies that work in the identity and data space that are making good progress and growing fast. That’s because they have been operating in a region where data protection regulations have been enforced first. We think that privacy and data protection regulations will be eventually implemented everywhere so businesses that provide solutions that are built on top of privacy gold standards benefit from early mover advantage.
Has the identity initiative been affected by the pandemic this year?
With the Chrome announcement in January, 2020 has turned out to be a pivotal year for identity. The industry has started to come together, around initiatives such as Project Rearc, and to collaborate on the development of standards needed to build a new infrastructure for the industry to operate. As mentioned above, this year there has seen a proliferation of identity solutions and offerings. We have also seen an increase in adoption of such solutions both on the publisher and platform side. The trend is clearly visible in Prebid, where you can see the increase in the number of user ID modules available. Although 2020 has been difficult year for the industry because of the pandemic’s effects on ad spend, it is important that we don’t forget about the challenges to come and work together to build a future-proof identity infrastructure for digital advertising.
What are your predictions for identity in 2021?
The coming year will be crucial as we get ready for the departure of third party cookies. I think we will see more identity-related partnerships being announced and we’ll begin an intense testing phase that will allow us to understand what solutions and approaches deliver the best results. We will eventually see a consolidation around a handful of identity solutions who are able to deliver performance and scale to publishers and advertisers.