It’s been an eventful start of the year for LiveRamp: Three big announcements around connected TV, an expansion of their IdentityLink solution for the advertising ecosystem, and most recently, LiveRamp B2B, which will bring them out of just the B2C space.
LiveRamp is a San Francisco-based SaaS company that does identity resolution and data onboarding. Formerly, they were part of Acxiom, founded in 1969 in Arkansas.
We spoke with Travis Clinger, VP of Strategic Partnerships at LiveRamp about these announcements.
First: why identity? 47% of marketers looking to increase investment on audience identity solutions
A 2018 study from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that “identity” was a top priority for marketers.
In fact, a reported 47% said that their companies planned to increase investment on audience identity solutions in the next year.
The study also found:
- Only 15% of respondents said they could identify their audiences accurately and consistently
- The average US adult today interacts with 3.5 devices (smartphones, smart speakers, tablets) but that number is expected to be more than 20 per person by the year 2020.
- The US identity market is expected to expand from $900 million in 2018 to $2.6 billion by 2022.
What does LiveRamp do? About their IdentityLink product
LiveRamp looks to solve precisely those struggles mentioned in the study. And they would be part of the “US identity market” that’s expected to just about triple over the next three years.
Per their website, they provide “an identity resolution service that ties data back to real people and makes it possible to onboard that data for people-based marketing initiatives across digital channels.” In other words, this is their IdentityLink product (which is built upon their core platform, IdentityGraph).
Why do they exist? Because in the vast and mysterious world of the internet, people are hard to keep tabs on. We come online through different devices, browsers, apps, websites, countries. We choose cookie preferences on one website, or one device, and then we go to a different website or device and those preferences are lost.
In fact, according to Travis:
“There are about 300 different cookie domains out there. And what means is that as a marketer, as you move data through the ecosystem.
You have some data in your CRM system, you want to onboard it. We connect that into your DMP, whether you’re using Salesforce, Adobe, or another. You manage your segments in a DMP. Then you’re going to push them over into your activation platform.
You’re going to make a jump from one cookie space to another cookie space. And now you’re in that demand side platform’s cookie space.
But each time you make a jump, you lose some of the data. You don’t lose data because those people aren’t online, or because they don’t have cookies. You lose the data because it’s hard to match all 300 cookies together.”
So LiveRamp’s IdentityLink is able to better match those cookies and resolve user identities.
They assign users a “people-based ID,” which is anonymous and privacy-conscious.
That ID connects all the different aspects of a consumer’s journey across the online ecosystem. This includes cookies, mobile devices, IDs for platforms like Twitter, etc. — and it connects them all together at the individual level.
From just supply side platforms (SSPs) to now demand side (DSPs) as well via RTB
Previously, IdentityLink had been available to supply side adtech platforms via the Advertising ID Consortium (which LiveRamp helped to found).
About a year and a half ago, the Ad ID Consortium came together to resolve some issues they saw in the world of programmatic.
According to Travis, they said, “There’s a better way to do this. We can consolidate cookie spaces, and we can make people-based identifiers available to use in the programmatic ecosystem.”
So they took this people-based ID, and made it available for all SSPs in the advertising ecosystem to use.
And now as of Monday, March 4th, they’ve expanded to DSPs as well, via real-time bidding (RTB). LiveRamp made the announcement at their annual RampUp conference.
“We got together and said we really need to take another step in this journey of upgrading the infrastructure of the ecosystem. And that step is, making it freely available for every DSP to activate on IdentityLink.
So just as we perpetually licensed IdentityLink to the Consortium through our supply side platform, we’re doing the same through RTB for our demand side partners.
So now, both the supply and the demand side for the programmatic world have free, perpetual license to a people-based identifier, so we can upgrade the ecosystem and really begin offering marketers a true, people-based experience that’s omnichannel, for their campaigns, on the open internet.”
What are key goals of this initiative?
“We are all about standardizing people-based identity for the open internet,” Travis says.
LiveRamp serves hundreds of marketer clients, and thousands more through their channel partnerships.
Each of those marketer clients wants to be able to connect their first-, second-, and third-party data.
Marketers have huge amounts of enterprise data. And all of that data is tied to identity. They want to use their knowledge of the consumer to influence those consumer journeys.
And instead of having to jump to different cookie IDs and mobile device IDs, they want to get all of that through one consistent ID space.
So the essential goal of this initiative is to enable the entire programmatic ecosystem to have a free, perpetual license to better connect marketers’ data — and of course to have that be through the same, uniform tool that LiveRamp provides.
The second, indirect goal? The consumer.
Today, consumer opt out is difficult. You have to go to all 300 cookie domains. You have to know what all those cookie domains are. And when you opt out, you’re dropping a cookie that says “don’t track me.” As long as that cookie is there, you’re good to go.
But the truth is, the consumer often changes cookies — they upgrade or buy a new device, a new computer. And we would have to go through that process again.
“But with LiveRamp,” says Travis, “It’s one persistent people-based opt out. If I say I don’t want targeted ads, I opt out, and that’s passed through the entire ecosystem. Every marketer using the system gets that opt out.”
So for the consumer, their preferences in theory become more persistent and easier to implement in the first place.
So they have two main goals here:
- Make the programmatic ecosystem more effective for marketers, and link their data to the ecosystem in a better way.
- Make the process easier for the consumer. Give them more control over their preferences, their experiences.
What does this step mean for the adtech industry?
This is a big deal for the advertising ecosystem, and LiveRamp says they’ve so far gotten a lot of really positive feedback.
Particularly for smaller platforms who maybe couldn’t previously access or afford this kind of tech, they now can take advantage of people-based identity at scale.
“We really see this a way to upgrade the infrastructure of the advertising ecosystem,” says Travis. “Right now you have all these cookie jumps. And every time you make a jump, you’re losing data. That’s bad for marketers, platforms, publishers, and consumers.”
“But now, we’ll have a standard, common identity available to the open internet. From first party data to supply side to DSP, it can be all on one, privacy-conscious platform.”
For the infrastructure of an ecosystem that has been built over the past 10-15 years, this is a notable “upgrade.”
Leveling the playing field for identity on the open internet
One of the most interesting aspects of what LiveRamp is doing is how it relates to the “walled gardens” — how some people view platforms such as Google and Facebook that collect massive amounts of consumer data on identity.
A lot of these larger, social-based platforms have enormous power around people-based targeting, frequency capping, impressions, etc. Travis said:
“We looked at what some of the larger social platforms have done and we said that’s really cool functionality that they offer marketers.
And we see the need for that. We wondered how we could bring that functionality to the open internet and allow for any marketer to access it. We view them [social platforms] as very strategic partners. But we also believe the rest of the open internet should also have a scaled identity to tap into.
We see this as leveling the playing field for identity on the open internet.”
It will be interesting to follow how LiveRamp and others continue to shape the adtech industry and how marketers access and handle consumer data.
What’s next for LiveRamp?
It’s been quite the kickoff to 2019 for the company.
They started with the ConnectedTV announcement back in February, which added a new channel for marketers to take advantage of.
And now IdentityLink for RTB, which they hope will significantly upgrade the infrastructure of the advertising ecosystem.
And most recently, the B2B announcement, which they hope will open up new clients, allowing more people to take advantage of IdentityLink.
For rest of 2019? Travis says they will continue pursuing each of those investments, and focusing on how to get all their offerings connected, distributed, working with different platforms, and scaling for growth.