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In a new age of identity, building a web that works for everyone

March 05, 2024
Person with headphones sitting at a desk, working on a laptop.

I asked Copilot, "What is the definition of identity in digital advertising?" and this is the answer I received:

Identity refers to a collection of features and characteristics associated with a uniquely identifiable individual and used for transactions, interactions, and representations online.

While the definition of identity may be straightforward, the methods used to identify individuals across the web are not as well-defined. As an industry, we are in a period of change and disruption, as the days of relying on third-party cookies or device IDs to reach “unknown users” are coming to an end. Today, it is more important than ever for users to protect their privacy and for brands to have access to effective identity solutions to be able to connect with their consumers.

At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. And that extends to our vision for the web, that is to build a web that works for everyone - consumers, advertisers, and publishers alike. Our goal is to shape the industry and to provide effective identity solutions while respecting the rights and preferences of consumers.

Building trusted consumer relationships in a connected ecosystem

We believe that privacy is simply a human right. Four principles form the foundation of the Microsoft approach to privacy, detailed on our website:

  • You control your information: we give you the ability to control your data, along with clear and meaningful choices over how your data is used
  • Your data is protected: we rigorously protect your data using encryption and other security best practices
  • You can expect privacy by design: we design our products with a core commitment to uphold user privacy
  • We stand up for your rights: we fight for stronger privacy laws and protections, and will protect your rights if a government request is made for data

Therefore, long before the industry started to talk about deprecating third-party cookies, consumer privacy has always been at the forefront of our commitments, enabling us to build a trusted and long-standing relationship with the people that use our products and services. This means that billions of permissioned consumer data points fuel our audience intelligence, helping advertisers connect with their desired audience at the right time.

We also work directly with advertisers and publishers, so we understand firsthand the challenges they face and the importance of a trusted and open web to drive ad effectiveness and scale. Our approach is to collaborate with and influence the industry to create a connected ecosystem that benefits our customers and partners by driving innovation, growth, and choice.

Driving scale through the most unique surface areas and audiences in the industry

One of our key drivers for innovation is Microsoft’s audience intelligence, which consists of robust privacy-safe consumer data sets, including search and web activity, LinkedIn professional profiles, and demographics. As a result, we are able to offer powerful audience targeting solutions that help advertisers deliver more relevant messages to a highly engaged audience of over 1 billion users, including millions that you may not be reaching anywhere else.

Person using a tablet and smiling.

Earlier we used Copilot to help define the word identity, a simple task for it to accomplish. With the integration of Copilot into our consumer services, we are reinventing search, web browsing, and chat. This results in greater scale, with over 100 million daily active users on Bing, among which one third are completely new users; and more relevant audiences through a fundamental shift in usage, driving improved engagement and return on investment through deeply personalized engagements.

Also, Microsoft Edge, the second largest browser on PC and tablets, plays a crucial role in providing scaled identity solutions. We are working alongside the industry to develop better browser-based targeting solutions, striking the right balance between upholding user privacy and ensuring the continued effectiveness of digital advertising for all.

By combining the scale of Microsoft’s audiences, consumer services like Edge, and AI innovation with our privacy-by-design ad platforms, we are able to provide advertisers with the insights and tools they need to connect with their desired audience in a more meaningful and effective way.

A choice of identity solutions to empower you to reach the audiences that matter, in a privacy centric way

As we know by now, there will be no single replacement of third-party cookies. Microsoft Advertising’s identity solutions are designed to drive scale, choice, and a web that works for all by connecting our unique assets with a wide range of industry solutions; this includes:

  • ID-based targeting solutions such as Microsoft’s audiences, a robust curated deal marketplace with unique data-layered deals, as well as most widely adopted universal IDs
  • Aggregated targeting solutions leveraging our browser API, lookalike audience capabilities and contextual targeting to extend your reach to anonymous audiences
  • Integrated measurement solutions to prove the effectiveness of your advertising and control reach and frequency across the ecosystem, including in environments without cookies.
  • Interconnected data solutions that enable you to engage audiences at scale, for example by leveraging Microsoft’s audience intelligence alongside your first-party data – easily on-boarded to our platform using our Customer Match feature

And we are making it easy for advertisers by updating our existing solutions to make them work seamlessly in non-addressable environments.

A purple and white conceptual Privacy and AI diagram.

We believe in an advertising world where advertisers are not choosing between privacy OR personalization but can achieve both. If we think of privacy not as a blocker but as a forcing function for delivering great advertising that respects consumers' rights, we will create better experiences for everyone.

Combining trusted consumer relationships, unique audiences and surfaces, and an approach to identity that offers choice, Microsoft is uniquely positioned to help you reach your most relevant audiences in a changing identity landscape.

Ready to get started?

Future-proofing your advertising has never been easier. All you need to do is to implement Microsoft’s Universal Event Tag (UET) on your website (or the Universal pixel if using Microsoft Invest) to ensure retargeting and conversion tracking continue to work as third-party cookies are phased out.

Tap into the power of our advertising platforms starting today to leverage our audience targeting and measurement solutions. And reach out to your Microsoft Advertising account team to know more about upcoming pilots and testing opportunities.


  • Brian Utter


    Brian Utter

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