We talked to Mathieu Roche about ID5, an independent universal ID solution for ad tech platforms and premium publishers.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Mathieu Roche: It goes without saying that this has been an incredibly difficult time for all, personally and professionally. Much like everyone else, 2020 has provided us with a mixture of challenges, moments of reflection, and a fair few wins along the way. We are remaining positive and looking towards a more hopeful 2021.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ID5.
Mathieu Roche: I am one of the founders and the CEO of ID5, which I launched after spending 12 years leading the business development effort at a Data company called Weborama.
Identity is the backbone of digital advertising and makes advertising valuable for brands and publishers – this is why we created ID5. The Walled Gardens have a huge advantage over the open web in identifying users, and we want to help the other players compete.
How does ID5 innovate?
Mathieu Roche: From day one, our mission has been to create an infrastructure that works for the entire open web in identifying users. We aim to make the whole process more efficient and privacy compliant.
When we initially began in 2017, our primary goal was to improve cookie matching (the method used to share data between platforms and identify users across domains). We launched Connect, our centralized cookie matching service designed to simplify user ID synchronization to reflect this goal. These foundations allowed us to prove our service’s value and drive adoption, resulting in our Universal ID solution’s successful initiation.
Chrome’s announcement of the depletion of third-party cookies by 2022 meant that third-party cookies would no longer be an option in any browser. The industry needed to find a new way of identifying users. Thus, our Universal ID product was now more relevant and valuable than ever before. We designed Universal ID to give publishers back their control, allowing them to identify 100% of users, even in cookie-less environments.
Privacy has always been at the heart of our product and business strategy. Our privacy-by-design technology leverages the IAB’s Transparency and Consent Framework to capture consent signals, thus respecting users’ preferences throughout the programmatic value chain. As we all know, privacy regulations are continually changing, yet ID5 is committed to providing a compliant service adhering to the latest privacy laws.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mathieu Roche: Although 2020 has been a challenging year for the industry due to the pandemic’s effects on ad spend, we mustn’t lose sight of the challenges to come and must continue working together to build a future-proof identity infrastructure.
We at ID5 are fortunate in the sense that the company has felt the adverse effects of the pandemic less intensely than others. Of course, there are a handful of challenges with moving to 100% remote work from an office environment that we had to face just like everybody else, but in the end, the shift proved to be largely beneficial.
We now have team members working across the UK, France, Italy, and Germany to expand in the New Year. Staying connected is incredibly important to us, and that is arguably the most significant challenge with every interaction currently taking place via technological means. Despite this, we ensure regular video calls and meetings to keep our team’s bond strong.
Remote working has also allowed us to have many more meetings and conversations with clients and prospects with the absence of travel, meaning that we’ve been able to move some partnerships forward much faster than we were used to. Moreover, the 2022 deadline set by Chrome has increased the efforts to test and adopt cookie-less identification solutions (like ours) to prepare for the cookie-less world.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mathieu Roche: We know that many companies have sadly had to make sacrifices under the pandemic’s weight for various reasons. Thankfully, we at ID5 have been fortunate enough to get to where we are now without making any tough decisions, and we are incredibly grateful for that. We successfully transitioned from office to remote working, cut costs through factors such as moving our physical events online, and experienced a significant increase in the number of partners we are working with.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Mathieu Roche: The primary method of dealing with stress and anxiety that I have stuck by for myself and when working with the team is to remain goal-orientated. Current circumstances can be undoubtedly challenging, and we all have our bad days. Yet, keeping our values, successes, and the end goal in mind enables us to stay focused and therefore decreases the likelihood of stress and worry creeping in.
Alongside the ID5 team, we uphold this by having kick-off meetings at the start of every day, outlining the previous day’s successes, what we’re all currently working on, and our short-term goals. We also have regular off-site events where we explore in more detail where we are excelling as a company and what we need to work on. As well as dabbling in a handful of fun team building activities here and there (think pub quizzes and cocktail making classes).
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mathieu Roche: There are a handful of companies trying, like ID5, to reinvent identity for advertising. Yet, two main factors set us apart from the rest. The first is that ID5 is an entirely neutral identification provider, meaning that we do not buy or sell ads ourselves. Providing an identity infrastructure is our sole purpose, not an additional service, which is the case for many competitors of ours.
The second factor is using two methods to create user IDs, rather than just one: deterministic and probabilistic. Deterministic is based on hard signals such as encrypted email addresses and phone numbers; it is exceptionally accurate but doesn’t provide enough scale. Today, it only accounts for up to 20% of recognizable users – thus, something more is needed.
ID5 aims to reduce the number of anonymous users using soft signals (IP addresses, page URL, timestamps, to mention a few) through a probabilistic method, thus increasing the percentage of identifiable users to 60-70%. From this new pool of inferred (probabilistic) user IDs, ID5 can identify at least half of those with a 95% accuracy rate.
It is important to reiterate here that privacy compliance is at the core of everything we do. Therefore, we do not collect any signals without user consent.
Your final thoughts?
Mathieu Roche: We are incredibly proud of what the ID5 team has achieved to date, especially as a start-up working in the face of a global pandemic. We have gained many new partners, launched our partnership program, ID5 Inside, and successfully hosted our virtual event, Identity 2021, with over 850 people registering their attendance.
As a brand new year begins, it is essential to keep in mind our achievements over the past 12 months, no matter how big or small. Here’s hoping for a more positive 2021 – we will get through this together!