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netID – Future trend or a dead end?

Publishers are desperately looking for an alternative to user Targeting without Third-Party Cookies. Could netID be the answer? As a publisher, should I jump on the bandwagon or just let it pass by?
by Usercentrics
Mar 17, 2021
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Publishers are desperately looking for an alternative to user Targeting without Third-Party Cookies. Could netID be the answer? As a publisher, should I jump on the bandwagon or just let it pass by?


In this article you will learn all about: 

  • The ins and outs behind netID. 
  • The major players who are already supporters of the network
  • What the success of netID depends on – and what that would this mean for publishers

A look behind the scenes of NetID:

The European netID Foundation was founded in 2018 by the media group RTL, ProSiebenSat.1 and United Internet (WEB.DE & GMX) to jointly build a secure space where users can organize and manage the consents given. This space is created across pages and devices by means of a so-called single sign-on (SSO). 


SSOs offer the possibility of logging into various online services, stores or portals with a single username and password. Previously, Facebook and Google had already used this principle, by pushing the “Sign in with Google” service. The difference is that when logging in via Facebook, the data is transferred to the platform used to sign in while netID merely provides the necessary infrastructure. Here, the data then remains with the respective partners. In netID’s “Privacy Center,” the user keeps track of who holds which type of information and who may use the information for which purposes.


Who benefits from the use of netID?

One of the largest benefiting markets of netID is the digital advertising industry, which needs the product for targeting. This is because websites are generally only allowed to place advertisements based on personal data if they have explicitly collected the user’s consent for advertising purposes. The Consent is requested by Consent Management Platforms (CMPs) and passed on to technology partners so that it is clear whether and which data may be used for personalization.


Since this is only compliant if the consent can be assigned to a user, the consent is linked to a so-called identifier. In the case of netID, this is established via the login. The netID organisation offers companies two products to choose from: netID Professional and netID Enterprise, which can then be combined with CMPs to enable consent to be passed on with the help of the identifier.


Ultimately, netID provides the advertising industry with an identifier for targeting, with which users can identify themselves online, and pairs the Consent to it. Users, in turn, will find it easier to register with various partners and manage the data they store there, along with their specific consents.


Why do we even need Identifiers?

The digital advertising world needs identifiers to link different data points across pages or even devices. For example, without this linkage, the technologies involved do not know that the user was interested in a trip on website B before visiting website A (which could potentially result in advertising for the destination) or even that it is the same user who was on the site yesterday.

The value of identifiers becomes even more apparent when different devices (smartphone, laptop, tablet) come into play. With the help of identifiers, profiles can be created (for example: probably female, interested in travel) in order to play relevant ads to the people behind the screens. 


Until now, this has been done by Third-Party Cookies, which have now been declared illegal due to countermeasures by browser manufacturers on the one hand and stricter data protection regulations (GDPR) on the other. Therefore, the industry is increasingly moving towards the “post-cookie era”. Identifiers can show up in various forms, whereby, in addition to the Third-Party Cookie, another option is, identification via login based on an e-mail address. .


More about the “Post Cookie Era” can be found in our Knowledge Hub articles

The next step is for users to get on board

Sugar, Spice and everything nice.The system which makes it easier for users to manage their data and provides the advertising industry with an identifier needs three ingredients to work:


  • Publishers who build in the SSO, 
  • Technology providers who use the identifier linked to it, 
  • and, most importantly, users who log in with the interlinked account.

So far, netID has focused on the first two items. Thus, various publishers and tech providers have been sourced since the launch, with prominent companies such as Telekom, Deutsche Post and adtech heavyweight Xandr recently announcing their support. 


Looking at the impact on the number of users, the initiator United Internet Media alone provided GMX and WEB.DE with several million accounts, as customers of the portals were automatically provided with a netID account. Over 38 million accounts are officially listed – but the organization does not reveal how many of these actively log in and manage data.


Expanding outreach is at the top of netID’s list


The advantages for partners are obvious: the netID organization provides a way to keep targeting alive even without Third-Party Cookies. Therefore, the more that partners participate, the greater the reach that can be achieved with the netID identifier. 


Unfortunately, the benefits for the user are not so clear at first sight and therefore have yet to be communicated. This remains a bit tricky as website users generally prefer not to entrust their data to anyone online. 


Thats why, and in order to increase that unknown number of accounts, netID is currently pushing out its communication strategy. With funny infomercials online and via television, netID is using humour to ultimately convince consumers of the benefits of the service. In the catchy  30-second ad, a man in an elevator logs on to a netID service and strips down – he’s performing a “data strip. The message for viewers: This wouldn’t have happened with netID, because the data is safe there. The tag line: “One click. One login. Full control.”


The advertising industry clearly gives netID clearly a big “thumbs up. Initial tests with the identifier, which were presented at the Dmexco digital conference, for example, produced positive results. In the industry, netID is seen as a pioneer in the identity and Privacy field, making its European debut a real success. New partners are continuing to join and work within the advisory boards to drive the product forward together.


But in the end, everything depends highly on the consumer. Because if no one logs in, no one can manage data or even receive personalized advertising. So it all depends on whether users can see the benefits for themselves and thus be convinced by the solution.

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