“Real-Time” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means – But It Should

Blog Post by Keith Petri, CSO of Screen6

These days, ad tech firms are throwing around the phrase “real-time” the way that some supermarkets throw around the phrase “freshly baked.” It sounds nice, right? You think you know what that means. That loaf of bread might have been “freshly baked” at some point – but was it “freshly baked” a week ago, in a bakery two states over, using frozen dough? Not quite what you had in mind.

Unfortunately, when it comes to cross-device, most vendors are using misleading language in the same way. Oh, your cross-device attribution uses “real-time” data? Great! Too bad that “real-time” data is based on API call to a match table that is only processed and updated once a week. Not quite what you had in mind, right?

At Screen6, we believe “real-time” should mean exactly what it says. That’s why we launched the industry’s first solution to offer immediate cross-device user ID resolution. Think of it as fresh, piping-hot data, pulled straight from the oven – “real-time” for real.

To be honest, we were already proud of our data freshness. Prior to the launch of our new Real-Time Identity Resolution solution, we were processing new cross-device linkages every 24 hours. That vastly exceeded the industry norm seen among most cross-device vendors, who are still updating their graphs every 7-10 days. (That was an entirely insufficient rate before, and it’s an entirely irrelevant one now.)

But with the advent of new technology – including over-the-top (OTT) inventory and Apple’s iOS 11 update with Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which is decimating the ability to use cookies to track users across sites and devices – we realized that even a 24-hour turnaround wasn’t meeting the high standards to which we hold our data integrity.

To understand the true impact of the growing trend toward cookie-less environments, we analyzed trillions of server calls. The findings were alarming, especially to our Screen6 team of perfectionists. We discovered that 40 percent of identifiers are now decaying within the first 24 hours. So even though our 24-hour refreshes were well beyond the industry norm, we knew we could – and must – do better for our clients.

Screen6’s Real-Time Identity Resolution allows for a significant portion of traffic that was being lost to cookie-less environments to now become addressable. Never-before-seen User Identifiers (UIDs) – or impressions originating from cookie-less environments – can be linked to pre-existing, targetable profiles that span all devices belonging to the user. So, when we say “real-time data,” we mean real-time data. Immediate. Fresh. Effective.

We think our customers deserve it, and we’re proud to deliver it.