Flashtalking, a leading global independent platform for omnichannel ad management, data-driven creative, and unified insights, announced the introduction of a new identity framework to provide advertisers the industry’s only complete end-to-end solution for cookieless personalization and measurement with privacy controls. The comprehensive framework is built on a suite of products including Privacy Icon, IDConnect and FTrack, previously the industry’s first cookieless single-device identity solution.
Facing a future without third party cookies and MAIDs, the market has been saturated with new alternative identifiers, many of which are being integrated across the buy side of the ecosystem. However, no one identifier is likely to emerge with the scale and resolution required to be a new universal standard like the cookie, which means advertisers will most certainly require multiple IDs on the buy-side to execute their omnichannel media campaigns.
A multi-ID landscape presents new problems for marketers, particularly around measurement and personalization. It is critical for advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their advertising investments, but it is simply impossible to deliver reach, frequency and attribution results working from multiple disparate datasets. Advertisers require a single, consolidated view of the customer journey, and that can only be achieved by stitching these IDs together across every impression, click and conversion on the open web.
Furthermore, the emergent patchwork of identity solutions does not provide a sufficient framework for addressing the consumer’s right to privacy, notification, and choice. To meet rising privacy standards, advertisers also need the means to clearly communicate the terms of their exchange with consumers wherever and whenever that exchange takes place.
“While ID Interoperability is being addressed on the buy side, it must also be solved for identity measurement and personalization. Right now, that’s a huge gap in the ecosystem,” said Flashtalking CEO John Nardone. “The current privacy setup also leaves a big hole in our industry, especially as it adopts identifiers based on hashed emails. With rising privacy standards, advertisers need a way to provide clear notice and choice (i.e. ability to opt out) for any operation involving user-level tracking. These are all areas where we believe Flashtalking can step in and play a major role.”
Flashtalking’s purview as an independent ad server makes it the only part of the adtech stack where marketers can solve these problems by securely joining identity data with campaign data at both the user- and impression-level. As the industry aggressively pursues solutions to the buy-side use cases, Flashtalking is uniquely positioned to solve for measurement and personalization use cases, with a new Identity Framework that is able to: (1) stitch together disparate IDs into a unified, federated dataset; (2) operate without cookies end-to-end; (3) deliver unbiased measurement; (4) provide consumer notification and choice on every impression; and, (5) respect advertiser’s ownership of their campaign data.
There are three building block components to Flashtalking’s Identity solutions:
- FTrack: Privacy-friendly probabilistic device recognition.
- IDConnect: Identity orchestration for measurement and personalization.
- Privacy Icon: Consumer notice and choice on every impression.
Flashtalking’s cookieless tracking technology, or FTrack, uses probabilistic device recognition to derive a privacy-friendly persistent ID for each device. FTrack ingests more than 30 non-personal signals (e.g., browser-based, device-based, and network-based) and employs machine learning algorithms to assign a unique FTrack ID to each device. Flashtalking obtained the FTrack technology through its acquisition of Device in 2015, and has since continued to improve its scale and accuracy. Today, Flashtalking has over 120 global brands using FTrack, representing almost 45 billion impressions per month. Many of these advertisers have been running FTrack for multiple years.
“Through FTrack, Flashtalking has accumulated what is arguably the largest cookieless footprint in the industry,” said Steve Latham, Global Head of Analytics at Flashtalking. “That purview is the foundation of our go-forward strategy, including identity, ad serving, personalization, and measurement. Flashtalking is the first ad server ever to function, by design, without cookies end-to-end. That means that as cookies and MAIDs go away, we expect very few changes for Flashtalking’s existing advertisers because we already have GDPR-compliant, privacy-friendly cookieless IDs in place to safeguard their digital marketing campaigns.”
With the addition of IDConnect as part of the new Identity Framework, FTrack has been enhanced to support personalization/DCO use cases that rely on cookies today (e.g. Ad sequencing, a/b testing, remessaging).
Although advertisers will be able to execute the buys across multiple ID spaces, you still need a way to orchestrate a single view of identity from these multiple buy-side identifiers to support creative personalization and measurement – all without the need for cookies. Flashtalking has a solution for this called IDConnect.
For the measurement use case, IDConnect generates a unified, federated dataset that stitches together disparate IDs across Identity spaces for a given client in their ad tech stack. For each impression, Flashtalking records the identifier used to buy the impression (e.g., Epsilon, UID, MediaMath) alongside the FTrack ID or the advertiser’s preferred identifier of record (e.g., first-party identifier). By connecting these “buy-side” IDs with a persistent identifier of the advertiser’s choosing, ID Connect provides that client with a “Rosetta Stone” for orchestrating identity across the multiple ID spaces. ID Connect also supports advanced analytics use cases like customer path analysis, multi-touch attribution, and media mix modeling.
Flashtalking’s Identity Framework can also be used to execute user-level personalization on campaigns while eliminating cookie dependency. IDConnect solves for these personalization use cases in much the same way as measurement, by allowing the digital marketer to decide their preferred method for defining identity and selecting the identifier that will guide creative personalization.
In some cases, the digital marketer may choose to use a first-party ID. In other scenarios, among verticals like CPG which typically do not have large pools of persistent first-party IDs, IDConnect lets the digital marketer opt to use a partner’s primary ID (e.g., Neustar, LiveRamp, The Trade Desk), or they can use the FTrackID.
Ad Choices, the widely adopted standard for notification, provides consumer notification as to the data that was used to drive the ad buy, but only for targeted ads. However, the ad buy is only part of the process. For the data industry, there are a host of other use cases– including verification, measurement, and offline attribution – for which Ad Choices does not provide a notification mechanism. Flashtalking firmly believes our industry needs to proactively address this problem.
Flashtalking accepts its responsibility for ensuring privacy is respected providing notice and choice on every ad serving with FTrack via the FTrack privacy icon.
Upon clicking the icon, the consumer is taken to our privacy information page, where we explain who we are, what data we collect, what we do with it, and what we do not do with it. We then give the consumer the opportunity to opt-out globally on our site or through Ad Choices. Because the ad server renders the creative on every ad impression opportunity, Flashtalking offers the advertiser the best vantage point to administer privacy notice and choice.