What is Universal ID and How Can it Help Publishers

Brock Munro
January 27, 2021
April 22, 2024
What is Universal ID and How Can it Help Publishers

The world of digital marketing, and ad tech, is highly data-driven. Those who work within the industry, including advertisers, content creators, and publishers, have traditionally relied on cookies as one way to collect and track user details and customer identity for marketing purposes by industry players.

But the ever-changing landscape of the digital world is pushing for a new adaptation. The laws and tech that govern the digital world are swiftly moving away from cookies and towards universal IDs.

Table of content:

What is a Universal ID?

Types of Universal IDs

Which universal IDs should you focus on?

Why Do You Need Universal IDs to Replace Third-Party Cookies?

Benefits of a Universal ID Solution for Publishers

Publift and LiveRamp Collaboration

What is a Universal ID?

Universal ID is a single identifier used in the digital marketing ecosystem that enables approved partners in the supply chain to access information related to a user.

A universal ID is one single identifier that is assigned to each user that allows the information about that user to be passed onto the approved partners in the system. Universal IDs were introduced as an alternative to third-party cookies, which lacked standardization.

Ad tech agencies would rely on third-party software to sync cookie information between one platform and another, which often led to slow, buggy websites hurting the UX experience.

Universal IDs eliminate the need for third-party software to sync user identity information and allow an ad-tech agency to better target ads at the right users. Universal IDs can be created using first-party cookies from offline sources, such as a customer management software (CMS) database.

Types of Universal IDs

These are relatively new, but there are already three types emerging on the market—a first-party data-based, proprietary and industry IDs solution. The difference is largely in where these solutions will pull the information from.

Some designs have the flexibility to collect identity information from multiple sources, while others are limited to only first-party databases or third-party cookies.

First Party Data-Based ID Solutions

LiveRamp was the first player on the field back in 2016, creating Identity Link, a first-party data-driven universal identity. Identity Link can utilize user information across a variety of sources, including third-party cookies, first-party CRM's, and other sources of offline information.

Proprietary ID Solutions

TradeDesk, one of the largest digital syncing processors, has created a proprietary solution called Unified Identity that aims to standardize cookie-syncing across all platforms. This solution simplifies cookie-syncing so that less user identity information is lost in conversions, and match rates for all parties are increased.

TradeDesk's solution, Unified ID, uses aggregated cookie information. If browsers ever completely block the use of cookies, Unified IDs will not work. Unified IDs can be a good first step for companies looking to try out a different solution, but their usefulness will be limited by the use of cookies.

Industry ID Solutions

DigiTrust ID is an independent solution that is not owned or operated by an invested party like Unified ID or LiveRamp. DigitTrust is the first provider to offer a universal ID service designed for the advertising world. DigitTrust also relies on a simplified cookie-syncing technology that puts an expiration date on its useful lifespan.

Which universal IDs should you focus on?

Having established the importance of user identification to both publishers and advertisers, the next important question is: Which universal IDs offer a stable process of advertising?

Below is a list of universal IDs worth considering when creating viable ad tech exchanges, eliminating third-party data, securing personal information and establishing sound ad practices.

The Trade Desk Unified ID 2.0

The Trade Desk's exclusive Unified ID protocol is a reliable choice when considering first-party cookies, audience segmentation and privacy sandbox.

Unified ID 2.0 authenticates and preserves a user's email address whenever they use said address to gain access to a Unified ID 2.0-integrated website. This creates an encrypted ID token that is circulated to advertisers' bidding networks while processing advertising requests. This encrypted ID is an alternative source of identity access for advertisers and ad tech vendors who utilize it for targeted marketing.

The mail address itself is encrypted, and the system requests users' consent before using any information, especially while browsing sites such as Facebook.

LiveRamp RampID

LiveRamp’s RampID is another leading universal ID that involves third-party analytics, CRM (customer relationship management) and statistics stored offline to create IDs that channel optimal supply chain markets.

RampID by LiveRamp operates by assigning an anonymous status to users holding encryption rights on multiple channels and devices (ranging from desktop browsers to mobile apps). It allows users to review and set advertising frequency on their devices and create bid-stream systems. It further evaluates personal data through long-term optimization that eliminates the requirement of third-party cookies for an indefinite period. It achieves this by creating an identity graph for every user to combine and contrast their data and search trends.

Publisher Common ID (PubCID)

Publisher Common ID lets a publisher generate IDs for people they trust in the advertising domain. This means that the publisher becomes a service provider for themselves and integrates Universal ID solutions within their website's theme. ‍

Why Do You Need Universal IDs to Replace Third-Party Cookies?

A user-authorized industry of universal IDs allows every publisher and advertising company to provide maximum security support. 

Further, universal IDs form a shared user identity in the supply chain, while respecting privacy by addressing their needs with first-party-based solutions.

The crux of this shift is the steady push to end third-party cookies, a movement major industry partners have backed. 

Relevant and constructive web advertising is gaining in popularity because universal IDs aim for data anonymization (privacy of user’s internet data) for customers and cross-domain tracking (displaying relevant ads on different platforms) in a cost-effective manner.

Benefits of a Universal ID Solution for Publishers

These IDs can benefit publishers and marketers in many ways. Such an ID solution is more efficient, working seamlessly between multiple devices. If the same user accesses a platform on a desktop PC, they will be easily identified and not duplicated on their smartphone or tablet as well.

Severe Reliance on Cookies

Universal ID solutions enhance information delivery by removing dependence on third-party cookies and other services. They are the main way to dispense with irrelevant ads.

Mozilla Firefox has already dropped support for cookies, and Google Chrome has announced plans to follow suit by 2022. Considering that the major players on the internet are moving towards measures that will eliminate cookies, it is time for marketers to cut their dependence on them as well.

Better User Data

It offers nearly 100% user match rates functionality, so you don’t need to worry about user duplication. The sample sizes are more accurate, and the match rates between user interests and ads are spot on.

One way that marketers can cultivate premium authenticated data mines is to offer value-based exchanges with users. Loyalty programs are one example of a powerful value-add tool that works well for enticing users to voluntarily provide their identity information.

That information is then stored in the database of first parties and tied to a universal ID that recognizes that particular user across platforms by that ID rather than tracking cookies tied to a device.

Higher Revenue Potential

Better matching accuracy and increased ability to target data user pools mean that your platform is more valuable to advertisers. Naturally, a universal ID-based system will be able to command higher ad prices than older cookie-syncing systems. Authenticated client information drives deterministic ad matching that outperforms older models based on probabilities.

Many companies are seeing returns on investments that are nearly quadrupling their ad performance after switching to a universal ID system.

Better User Experience Design

There are two big problems with the UX experience on a traditional cookie-based system. The first is slow, boggy websites that are running third-party cookie-syncing software. The universal ID does not require a third party to translate the information, and all of the options on the market seem to play well with others.

The second problem is irrelevant ad displays. Cookie-based systems deal more with probabilities than a universal ID system. Not only does showing even a single irrelevant ad hurt the ad campaign performance, but it detracts from the user experience by failing to provide anything useful.

Consumers are relatively open to viewing ads on products or services that they are interested in. Comparatively, an eMarketer report found that consumers are significantly annoyed by viewing irrelevant ads that aren’t aligned with their interests.

Publift and LiveRamp Collaboration

Publift connects small and medium-sized publishers with premium advertisers. This partnership prioritizes customer satisfaction in secure browsing. Publift’s endorsement of LiveRamp marks a step away from cookie-tracking.

Publift and LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) uses data of first parties to match authenticated users with ads based on real details and not probabilities. Check out our CEO Colm’s Vlog on User Privacy, where he talks more about Publift’s collaboration with LiveRamp and the death of third-party cookies.

Data offered by first-parties offer even small businesses the opportunity to cultivate high-interest target audiences for premium content with an opt-out option so that every ad dollar spent has real potential to drive business goals.


A progressive digital world calls for innovative technologies that will bridge the gap between privacy requirements and ad tech vendors. Third-party cookies are on their way out, and the internet is banking on other advanced initiatives like Universal IDs. 

Publift helps digital publishers get the most out of the ads on their websites. Publift has helped its clients realize an average 55% uplift in ad revenue since 2015 through the use of cutting-edge programmatic advertising technology paired with impartial and ethical guidance.

If you’re making more than $2,000 in monthly ad revenue, contact us today to learn more about how Publift can help increase your ad revenue and best optimize the ad space available on your website or app.


What is liveramp?

Liveramp is a data enablement platform from a California based SaaS company that enables marketers to make sound data-driven decisions. This data connectivity platform allows businesses to control how data is accessed and used to ensure an enhanced customer experience. 

What is liveramp used for?

The liveramp platform unifies, connects, controls, and activates customer data across different devices. It is used for effective targeted marketing as it allows publishers and advertisers to create an engaging and seamless customer experience. 

Some of the key functions of this data enablement platform are listed below.

  • Enables you to activate the audiences across a vast array of channels (online and offline)
  • Allows you to build and maintain a unified view of your customer
  • Provides a detailed view of campaign performance to advertisers

How does id5 work?

ID5 provides the ecosystem with a stable encrypted user ID that replaces cookies and MAIDs (Mobile Ad ID). Business owners share their ID5 id with ad tech partners to make their ads more valuable. Advertisers use the ID5 id to optimize the reach and frequency of their campaigns and to measure their performance. The advanced encryption capabilities of the universal ID ensure the protection of the publisher’s data and customer’s privacy.

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Grow your business with a sustainable, long term partnership. If you're making more than $2,000 in monthly ad revenue, contact us today to boost your revenue with our all-in-one solution.
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