Getting the most out of Profile Merge Rules - Tips, Tricks and Strategies










Getting Started with Profile Merge Rules 

Profile Merge Rule in Adobe Audience Manager (AAM) allows you to choose how or when to stitch a user’s cross device behavior together based on customer authentication. AAM lets you define the rules to bring together profiles from multiple devices of a user, as well as multiple people sharing a common device, and hence lets you target people instead of devices. 

Profile Merge Rules have a dependency on ID synchronization. Prior to creating a profile merge rule, make sure you have a cross-device data source set up! Once the data source setup is complete, evaluate your use case for creating a Profile Merge Rule. 

Use cases can be different for each type of industry. A general best practice is to start by looking at the goal(s) of your campaign. Here are some questions to consider when forming the strategy for your Profile Merge Rule: 

  • Do you want to focus on personalizing experiences for logged in visitors? 
  • Do you want to maximize your reach by targeting all of the customer’s devices? 
  • Under what circumstances do you want to merge a person’s devices into one single profile and when do you not want to merge devices into one single device profile? 
  • If there are multiple people using a shared device, how do you want to target these specific people using shared devices? 

 Keep in mind that you can have multiple merge rules for different types of initiatives.   

Once you determine your use case, you can get into the actual UI of AAM to set up your Profile Merge Rule. When you get into AAM, you’ll notice that you have one default Profile Merge Rule: “Current Device”. This default rule is for the device targeting use case and that does not include authenticated activity. Here are some potential Profile Merge Rules for other use cases: 

  • To maximize reach, choose “Last Authenticated Profiles + Profile Link Device Graph” in your Profile Merge Rule options. AAM will use the Profile Link Device Graph to merge multiple device profiles with the authenticated profile prior to evaluating the segment. If the merged profile qualifies for the segment, all profiles that have been merged will qualify for the segment.
  • In the scenario where you only want to target a customer who is currently logged in, choose “Current Authenticated Profiles + Device Profile” for your options. This combination is stricter in approach, and segments using this Profile Merge Rule will require authenticated activity from the user.

Profile Merge Rules Use Case: University Targeting Prospective Students 

A university wants to run a campaign that targets students that are potential new prospects. In this particular example, the campaign is a mix of onsite and offsite personalization. For onsite personalization, the University utilizes Adobe Target. For offsite targeting, they use Social Media remarketing – a URL destination configured in AAM - and paid media using a DSP destination. 

For this campaign, the university uses an A/B activity in Adobe Target. In the event that someone views experience B, they should view a personalized experience for the rest of the journey. For this campaign, they implemented a Profile Merge Rule with the options set as “Last Authenticated Profile + Profile Link Device graph”. At first, the university thought this was the best merge rule options for this campaign, but soon realized that shared devices were an issue. It turned out that some prospect students had siblings or friends who were students at the university. Those prospects were using existing students’ devices. The result of this was existing students started to view the personalized experience meant for prospect students. In order to pivot, the university introduced a new offline trait containing all prospect student IDs and applied it to segments meant for the particular specific area of the site where the experience occurred. The university also changed the merge rule options to “Current Authenticated Profiles + Device Profile” on those segments. This enabled the university to exclude current students who may be sharing a device with a prospect student. Hence, the personalized experience was only delivered to Prospect Students in those site sections. 

Profile Merge Rules Pro Tips:

  1. Be strategic while creating segments and choosing the right Profile Merge Rule options. If you select “Current Authenticated Profiles + Device Profile” or “Current Authenticated Profiles + Profile Link Device Graph”, then AAM assumes the customer has authenticated after visiting that site section. If you use a segment with those defined options for your Profile Merge Rule, the customer will not fall into the segment if there is no authenticated activity. 
  2. If you are anticipating a log-in activity in future, but still want to capture the behavior data beforehand and link that to the authenticated profile at a later stage, then use: “Last Authenticated Profiles” option. In short, this option takes into consideration the last logged-in as well as any future logins whenever they occur. 
  3. When you are dealing with onboarded traits and those onboarded traits are linked to a cross device data source, then the segments using those traits must have a PMR. 
  4. If you have not implemented logged out state or unknown state when you're implementing ID synchronization, then current authenticated and last authenticated will work similarly. That can be prevented by enhancing the ID sync implementation to include both states. AAM needs to know the logged-out activity to differentiate. A lot of customers implement without logged out state and only care about logged in state. That's completely fine but strict use cases need to use logged out state.


Varun Kalra is a multi-solution consultant working in a Sydney based Adobe Solution Partner - Accordant. Varun works primarily on Audience Manager, Adobe Analytics and AEP projects which involve data discovery, implementation, support and enablement.

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