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Authenticated Identity Myth Busters

  • - Travis Clinger
  • 3 min read

Over time, we’ve noticed some of the same questions about authenticated identity returning to the forefront of customer inquiries. As such, we thought it best to share a quick myth-busting guide to address some of the recurring questions we get.

MYTH: The open web doesn’t need authenticated identity

The web is an enormous source of information and many websites provide some, or all, of their online content for free. To cover their costs, these websites rely on revenues earned from online ads (and may work with multiple advertising partners in the process). 

Furthermore, consumers maintain ongoing relationships with a number of websites across the internet. In order to inform these ongoing relationships, and properly remember your preferences, consumers can authenticate with email, phone number, or social log-in, for example, to store their information and power quicker access and experiences. 

Authenticated identity provides a value for the consumer in the form of free content and personalization and enables publishers to make their valued content available to consumers. The free internet thrives on advertising, and authenticated identity is the foundation of modern advertising. 

MYTH: Authenticated identity is the same thing as cookies

“Cookies” in most contexts refers to third-party cookies, which bring many problems, despite serving as the legacy foundation of the modern digital ecosystem. 

Most importantly, third-party cookies did not give individuals the best level of transparency, choice, or control over how their data was being used.

In contrast, authenticated identity hinges on the trusted, transparent value exchange of content and/or services for authenticated data such as email addresses. Consumers are able to control their data and their preferences and transparently and willingly share that data in exchange for interactions of value with publishers and marketers. It’s important to note that authenticated identity only works when a consumer shares their email address. 

MYTH: Authenticated identity is not compliant with privacy regulations

Privacy regulations protect consumers’ control of their data. In order for authenticated identity to work in a landscape where GDPR and other regulations are ever-evolving, it requires a deep understanding of the regulations themselves, as well as:

  • The infrastructure to share and update individuals’ preferences across partners
  • The technology to resolve disparate elements of data to connect people and authentications 
  • The trust and independence to bring all of these parties together

We’re delivering these solutions today and making authenticated identity compliant, not just with the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law moving forward.

As privacy continues to evolve, we’ll continue to enhance authenticated identity to match, not just for complying with regulations, but also for meeting consumers’ demands for privacy.

MYTH: Fingerprinting offers more scale than authenticated identity

The scale that fingerprinting enables is due in part to the “off-label” collection and use of browser and network signals. These signals, and the creation of the “synthetic” ID, are not transparent to the consumer, and the choice to opt out is difficult at best. This scale that fingerprinting enables for targeting and measurement comes at an enormous cost: the trust of the consumer.

Fingerprinting is unacceptable and dangerous to the advertising ecosystem and the consumers we serve. Furthermore, the ecosystem is beginning to recognize this, with every major browser condemning fingerprinting, and regulators placing fingerprinting under scrutiny as well. Companies building for the post-cookie future using fingerprinting as a central part of their strategy are putting themselves under regulatory pressure, but also pressure from consumers, who are looking for trust, transparency, and control.

In contrast, authenticated identity relies on consumers agreeing to share their identity. The walled gardens have thrived because of authenticated identity, and now the open web has a chance to use it to achieve the competitive parity it has sought for so long.

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