For many years, digital advertising has relied on device-based identifiers to power the value exchange of the internet — free or reduced-cost content in exchange for advertisements. Unfortunately, the use of these device-based identifiers lacked transparency, so the value exchange was not well understood by the consumer. Now, privacy regulation and device and operating system changes are disrupting the use of device-based identifiers for advertising purposes.

These are all clear signals that it's time for the industry to move on to a new identity framework that relies on first-party authenticated data. These changes create an opportunity and need for marketers and publishers to refine their data strategies and alter how they create segments and activate audiences. These changes will impact advertisers' and publishers' capabilities to suppress and retarget, execute a cohesive cross-device strategy, and measure campaign performance.

Apple, IDFA, and ATT

Apple's ATT framework requires app developers to ask users for permission to track and share their Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) — Apple's mobile device ID — or other identifiers to facilitate mobile in-app advertising and measurement. As iOS 14.5+ continues to roll out, publishers will need to get AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) consent to continue connecting their inventory to marketer first-, second-, and third-party data. Mobile publishers must work to optimize their ATT consent rates and explain the value exchange to their users. The benefit is that publishers can also capture authentication in this process.


Google and AAID

Google is taking a different approach. Instead of opt-in, their changes are about opt-out, starting later in 2021. While Android users are already able to opt out of ad personalization or reset their Google Advertising ID (AAID), they are still tagged by the AAID when they open an app and the AAID is still used for use cases such as attribution, analytics, and fraud detection. The difference with this update is that any attempt to access the identifier will return a string of zeros instead of the identifier. This is similar to how Apple handled opt-outs pre-ATT.

How authenticated people-based identity becomes the gold standard

Mobile app developers still need a neutral and transparent infrastructure that will enable them to maintain and scale their business while upholding consumer privacy standards. Authenticated identity is this infrastructure — enabling marketers to use the same identity across display, mobile in-app, and CTV. This identity is rooted in consumer trust and enables a value exchange between mobile apps and consumers.

For marketers striving to maximize reach and return, authenticated people-based buying increasingly sits at the top of the tactic list. Authenticated users are the people a marketer or publisher knows and with whom they want to foster an ongoing relationship.

Consider the walled gardens and their incredible authentication rates. It’s no surprise that marketing dollars follow people-based addressability. You’re reaching a person, not a device. If ever there was a strong argument for publishers to put people-based addressability at the top of the list, it’s to create their own parity with the walled gardens’ offerings. Enabling people-based inventory improves monetization while keeping publishers in control of their first-party data. Publishers can also better help marketers maximize reach and return on ad spend. Even at low levels of authentication — 10% to 30% — the impact can be disproportionately valuable to a publisher’s bottom line. 

Building your authenticated audience

Publishers can begin leveraging an authentication strategy by adding a log-in option to their apps. Consider creating a registration wall or adding social sign-on tools to your app. Giving the option to log into your app will allow you to foster a direct relationship with your user.

  • Make them obvious: It’s important to let your visitors know the option is available. Provide the option to log in at the top of the settings section or when a user first opens your app. Consider including an icon in one of the corners of the app so a user knows they can check in on their account. If a user does not yet have an account, an icon visible in the normal app environment would be a good reminder for the user to know they can have a stronger relationship with your app.
  • Be judicious about which log-ins you implement: This is part of knowing your audience. It’s also about knowing and properly conveying the appropriate value exchange you are providing. Some users may take the time to log in, while others may expect to log in before they do anything else. Why should your user log in? Test some strategies on what types of log-ins get the most traction, as well as which log-in experiences and prompts provide the most seamless user experience, so you don’t risk churn.
  • Implement them where your visitors engage: Want your users to get their feet wet with your app before asking them to authenticate? Consider a splash page every few opens, asking the user if they would like to log into your app. This will be a great opportunity to communicate with the user without disrupting the app experience when the user is already deep within a session.

The data future is a first-party future

The most significant competitive advantage for marketers and publishers alike, now and long term, is using authenticated first-party data to activate or monetize. It's also a substantial and valuable differentiator. Building relationships with consumers will be the fuel that propels an organization's ability to reach the right individuals, deliver better customer experiences, and measure the effectiveness of campaigns. 

This is nothing new — first-party authenticated data has long driven the digital world. 

For marketers, doubling down on first-party data will help them better reach, engage, and measure the return on their investments effectively and efficiently. Success also requires publishers to identify authentication strategies, enabling value exchanges and strengthening first-party relationships. 

Further, if the goal is a more sustainable, healthy, and competitive open internet that works better for everyone, placing consumer trust and transparency first is not only ethical but essential. It will enhance customer experiences, and it will also increase the bottom line.


Want to learn more? Check out LiveRamp’s Jason White, SVP, Head of Publishers and Bob Walczak, Strategic Advisor & Consultant to TextNow in this session from MGS SCALE.