Most people understand cookies (small text files that are stored on your computer and track who you are and your online behavior) enable the majority of today’s digital campaigns. With the threat of “Do Not Track” legislation, users’ cookie deletion and the fact that web usage is moving to mobile devices which do not accept cookies, means forward thinking digital marketers need to identify alternative tracking technologies. Additionally, with the proliferation of cross-screen and cross-device media consumption, there is a need to target the same user across all of the devices being used. One viable alternative to cookies is using a consumer’s email address to identify and track their activity across channels. Think about how many times you enter your email address every day, logging onto social networks, registering on websites and making online purchases.
Of course, maintaining the privacy of one’s e-mail address and using non-personally identifiable information is very important; and MD5 Hashing provides the technology to encrypt a user’s email address and convert it into a 32-character hexadecimal string (e.g., ed394c25f45986766ce2bd69389d9b1a). The hash string functions as a unique identifier for the user across devices and screens. That is, every time a user’s e-mail address is run through a hashing algorithm, the same hash string will result to uniquely identify the user. This hash string can be shared between companies to match database records.