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AWS Launches A Solution For Off-The-Shelf ID Resolution

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Amazon Web Services took another step in its development as a key ad tech integration hub on Wednesday, with the general launch of a product called Entity Resolution.

Think of it as identity resolution technology.

Entity Resolution consolidates all identity-based records a business might have across the sprawling AWS landscape, from point-of-sale systems and CRMs to call centers, martech vendors and other data sources piped in from different places.

Creating this identity layer has become more important since the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many businesses went from focusing on offline data and sales to being obsessed with their first-party data systems, said Davor Golac, GM of the Entity Resolution product at AWS.

Financial companies and hotel chains, for instance, have had to revamp their systems to take advantage of increased digital engagements and data-driven channels.

Rather than build and maintain their own custom tools, those companies can now lean on the Entity Resolution product, which is launching with Amazon Ads, Merkle, TransUnion, LiveRamp, the open-source org that runs the Unified ID 2.0 program and customer data platform ActionIQ as initial partners.

As the Entity Resolution launch partner roster suggests, ad tech is a prime use case for the product.

Two ActionIQ clients that participated in the development of Entity Resolution were retailers with their own burgeoning advertising businesses, said ActionIQ Chief Product Officer Justin DeBrabant.

“Another sense of urgency that (AWS clients) have is to address the future deprecation of third-party cookies and digital identifiers that are coming to an end,” Golac told AdExchanger.

Who owns identity?

In recent years, a debate has played out among CDPs, cloud data companies and advertising identity providers over who should own the identity layer of an enterprise.

Should it be an ID operator, like LiveRamp, or an impartial CDP that never takes a cut of media budgets?

The debate rages on, but most brands have made their decision, Debrabant said.

Cloud infrastructure tech has the data.
“Call it the Snowflake effect,” Debrabant said.

Businesses don’t like copying data for cost reasons, security and privacy reasons and simply because it’s considered poor practice in enterprise IT.

Many brands have by now invested heavily in their own data lake and first-party systems built on cloud-based tech.

The result is that the data stays where it lives, in the cloud database. And for vendors to play a role, they must accept their status as services on top of the identity layer, not the identity layer itself, DeBrabant said.

Swallowed by the clouds

Still, some CDPs and identity providers are primarily focused on being the ID operator themselves.

AWS is going to cannibalize that business, though, DeBrabant said. Just like AWS, Snowflake and Google Cloud are making life tough for independent clean room companies now that the big cloud platforms each have off-the-shelf versions of third-party clean room products.

The clean room analogy isn’t entirely hypothetical. Entity Resolution and the AWS clean room product – called, with typical Amazonian flair, AWS Clean Rooms – are on the roadmap for product integrations in the coming year, Golac said.

The chaotic changes happening across digital media and advertising now and over the next few years should be a major boon for AWS products like Entity Resolution and Clean Rooms. They make use of data that is otherwise just sitting there costing a fraction of a penny per data point and contributing little to the business.

The Entity Resolution product was called Project Venice while it was in testing over the past year.

According to Golac, there are two reasons behind the name: One, because Venice is a city connected by bridges and canals, just like the fractured online identity landscape. But also because of the Venice Time Machine Project, an effort to digitize hundreds of years’ worth of records about the city that haven’t been uploaded to any digital database.

So, it isn’t related to Venice sinking inexorably into the sea?

“It’s much cooler than that,” Golac said.

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