Users interact with digital environments in many different ways. When a new user accesses your website or app, they are unknown so a unique Anonymous ID is assigned to track their online behavior. Users may remain anonymous for the duration of their visit or they might create an account, log in, or otherwise share identifiable information. Once the user becomes known, it’s important to reconcile the known identity with any previously anonymous user identities, and to combine the activity timelines of each ID. This creates a unified user activity timeline and enables a complete analysis of the full customer journey. Without user reconciliation, an individual user may be assigned multiple user IDs, which can cause duplication of user counts and fragmentation of user activity in your data. The process of reconciling known and unknown user identities is called aliasing. Aliasing is also known as identity reconciliation, stitching, or merging.
Users can access your website or app from a variety of devices and locations. Maybe a user creates a profile on your website using their laptop, then downloads your app onto their smartphone and also onto their tablet. Maybe they log in on a friend’s phone to place an order. In addition to reconciling known and unknown user identities, aliasing combines the activity timelines of each device, platform, and geographic location. This again creates a unified activity timeline to provide a complete analysis of the full customer journey.
Aliasing can also help with cross-domain tracking. To achieve this, pass the Anonymous ID from the second domain as an aliasing parameter. Then contact Support or your Customer Success Manager for more information on how to enable cross-domain tracking with aliasing.
How Does Aliasing Work?
Depending on your integration type, aliasing is achieved in different ways. For example, if you send events to Indicative in real-time by using Segment, Amazon Kinesis, or via the Indicative API, then the process is different than if you send events to Indicative daily by using a data warehouse integration. The following documentation describes our process for aliasing user identities in real-time integrations.
An aliasing API call consists of three components:
- Anonymous ID: The anonymous ID is an ID used to identify a user before they register, log in, or otherwise identify themselves.
- User ID: The user ID is the ID used to uniquely identify a user in your database. This should be an immutable field that is recorded in the user table. As mentioned, the user ID is created and assigned whenever a user makes themselves known.
- API Key: The project API Key is used to direct the alias call toward which Indicative project.
After receiving an alias call, Indicative reconciles the anonymous ID and the user ID, and handles all incoming events from both IDs as the same user. In short, they’re “stitched” together. Multiple anonymous IDs may be aliased to a single user ID, however you may not alias multiple user IDs to a single anonymous ID, nor may you alias a user ID to another user ID.
For customers on the Enterprise plan, alias calls can be performed retroactively to combine two activity timelines that have already been processed. This can be requested by contacting Support or your Customer Success Manager.
Alias calls are processed once per day, so please allow up to 24 hours for best results.
The Indicative client automatically generates a universally unique identifier (UUID) to apply to all events until “Indicative.setUniqueID(id)” is called. “Indicative.sendAlias()” can be called to alias the UUID to the ID parameter defined within “Indicative.setUniqueID(id)”
After setting the new unique ID, then this will automatically call “Indicative.sendAlias()”. If you perform “callIndicative.setUniqueID(id)” without ‘true’, then the alias call will not be sent.
It is recommended that an alias call between an anonymous ID and a user ID is made only once. The alias call should be sent at the first instance of the user identifying themselves, such as upon registration or profile creation.
We also recommend caution when requesting retroactive aliasing, as these changes are permanent and irreversible. Improper use of aliasing can cause unforeseen issues with data accuracy. To mitigate this risk, Indicative enforces the following strict aliasing rules:
Anonymous ID and User ID must be different
Anonymous ID may be aliased to only one User ID
Multiple Anonymous IDs may be aliased to one User ID
Anonymous ID may not be aliased to another Anonymous ID
User ID may not be aliased to another User ID
If an ID has already been defined as a User ID, then it cannot be reclassified as a Anonymous ID
You may not “chain” alias calls (i.e. Anonymous ID > User ID1 > User ID2)
Alias calls only impact future data received. As mentioned above, retroactive aliasing must be coordinated through your Customer Support Manager.
Aliasing is stateful, which means we build an accumulated view of your aliasing calls over time.
Custom aliasing rules may be supported for Enterprise customers only. This can be requested by contacting Support or your Customer Success Manager.
Third Party Aliasing
Aliasing calls from a third party are not supported. Indicative rejects these calls because they are considered “chained” alias calls (i.e. Anonymous ID > Third Party User ID > Indicative User ID). If you are concerned that your method of integration is causing aliasing issues, please contact Support or your Customer Success Manager.
Aliasing with GDPR
Under GDPR privacy regulations, users have the option to opt into or out of session tracking. If a user does not consent to tracking, then all personally identifiable information (PII) must not be collected and existing PII must be deleted. The only data that is tracked by the Indicative client is the Anonymous ID, a random string ID used to unify a single user session. This ID does not persist across multiple user sessions. It is not possible to alias the IDs of users who opt out of session tracking.