BOSTON – As the clock ticks down to Google’s deprecation of third-party cookies by 2022, more ad agencies are seeking alternative methods of targeting audiences.

Increasingly, a consensus for the way ahead looks like being “identity graphs”, software systems which offer up a PII-compliant way to use profiles on millions of consumers.

In the latest example, the media agency Horizon Media says it will use the identity graph products from TransUnion, the consumer identity data provider, to help deliver its clients’ ads at the person level.


“The identity framework is really key to helping our brands build out their own internal CRM,” says Horizon’s chief data officer Laura McElhinney. “If they don’t have their own internal CRM, if they’re not data-rich, it gives them a baseline of data that is extremely rich … to formulate their target.

“It’s not just digital, it is truly omni-channel. It helps a full consumer journey, because it … it takes that ID… It carries it all the way through the consumer journey, all the way through to attribution.”

The largest privately-held agency, Horizon works with brands like Corona and Geico, managing over $8.7 billion in client investments.

The agency began working with TransUnion a year ago. It gets “deterministic” consumer profile data from TransUnion’s platform, which it augments with data from other sources to create enriched profiles on more than 280 million individuals.

Future of targeting

Identity graph technology has risen in the last five years as a means to tie together the multiple, dispersed facets of a consumer’s digital life in to a holistic database profile.

It works by forging connections between various authenticated user accounts, like credit card accounts or website accounts. Many believe that identity graphs go far beyond what cookies and single-device IDs offer as they are short-lived, don’t necessarily give a snapshot of an authenticated consumer and offer only a partial view.

“We knew two years ago that cookies were going to be going away and that we would need other ways to help enhance that consumer journey,” McElhinney adds.

“We’re able to take data, we’re able to come up with a better targeted segment, we’re able to help utilise that for content, to drive the content change that needs to happen in speed to market.”

This video is part of a series titled Navigating Accelerated Change, presented by Transunion.  For more videos, please visit this page