At LiveRamp, “Onboarding” refers to the process of sending your customer data to digital marketing applications and media platforms. See the appropriate sections below for information on how to onboard your data with LiveRamp and key LiveRamp terms you’ll encounter.

Onboarding Overview

The typical onboarding workflow first involves uploading customer data (such as PII identifiers and segment data), which we then match to the anonymous, universal identifiers called IdentityLinks (IDLs) in our Identity Graph. 

Once you decide which destination platform(s) you want to distribute your data to, we translate these IDLs into the platform-specific identifiers (cookies, mobile device IDs, custom IDs, etc.) in our Identity Graph that are used by each platform, and then deliver the data. Once the data has been ingested at the platform, you use that platform’s UI to perform your marketing activities, such as targeting, personalization, ad suppression, etc.

Want to watch? For a brief video overview of how Onboarding works at LiveRamp, see "Video: How Data Onboarding Works". 

Security and privacy: To stay at the forefront of privacy best practices, we employ a team of privacy experts and actively work with major self‑regulatory privacy organizations, including the IAB, DAA, and DMA. For more information on our security practices, see "LiveRamp Data Security Overview".

Onboarding Steps

At a high level, the steps to Onboarding are:

  1. You format your data files and then get those files into LiveRamp
  2. We organize that data into fields and segments that are available for you to manage in our Connect UI
  3. Your distribute fields and segments to your different digital marketing platforms

Along the way, there are a number of stats and reports that you can utilize.

Before you begin, you might want to add users to your account. Once you've configured your account, you're ready to get your data into LiveRamp.

Key LiveRamp Terms for Onboarding

To help make your use of LiveRamp as simple as possible, here’s an overview of the key terms you’ll encounter. 

For a complete list of LiveRamp terms, see our Glossary of Terms.


Connect is the cloud-based software application you can use to upload, manage, and distribute your data. Your account manager, or the admin user at your company, will provide you with login credentials. There are many help articles and training videos to help you get started using Connect quickly and easily.


In LiveRamp, files and segments are stored in audiences. Audiences are basically just a container for your data, a way to separate and organize different data sets. You will generally have one audience for each workflow, just to keep things organized. 

For a given audience, all files must have the exact same column headers for the identifier data. This means that, for the columns we're using for matching (in most cases, the columns containing PII), those columns’ headers must be identical each time.

Audience Key

An audience key is a column in your files (such as a client customer ID (CCID), or name and postal address) that acts as a unique ID for all of the records in a given LiveRamp audience. The audience key is used to consolidate duplicate rows in an audience. All files must have an audience key, and all files within the same audience must use the same audience key. If you aren’t able to provide a CCID for your records, we will choose the PII identifier that has the largest fill rate (percentage of records with a value) and that identifier will be used as the audience key for all files in that audience.

Fields and Segments: What We Create from Your Uploaded Files


Within Connect, a field is a set of segment data that holds a specific category of different values. For example,  you might have a field called "Car_Owned" that contains segments of specific field/value pairings, such as “Car_Owned:Ford” and “Car_Owned:Tesla”. You can also think of a “field” as the key in a standard key-value pair or as the column heading for a column of segment data.


A specific value for a given field. Think of this as the value in a standard key-value pair or as the column entries for a column of segment data. 


Within Connect, a segment is a group of your records that are defined by a specific attribute,  For example, for a field in your file called "Car_Owned", you might have 500 records that have a value of “Ford”. So the segment “Car_Owned:Ford” would contain all the records that have the field/value pairing “Car_Owned:Ford”.

How to Think About the Data You Send Us

There are two basic types of data you can include in files you upload to us:

  • Identifier data is data that we use to match your records to other identifiers in our Identity Graph. 
  • Segment data is any data that we use to group your records into segments based on certain attributes 

For many onboarding customers, the primary type of identifier data you’re going to upload is PII, or personally-identifiable information. This refers to a number of possible consumer touchpoints, such as name and postal address, email address, or phone number. 

PII-based files are often referred to as “offline data” files, since that data is often (but not always) collected in the offline world. Because this type of data can be used to directly identify an individual, this data is categorized as “known” data.

Online Data

Some customers might send “online data” such as cookies, mobile device IDs, or their custom ID. Because this type of data can’t be used to directly identify an individual on its own, this data is categorized as “pseudonymous” data. 

Destination Account

A destination account at LiveRamp is a set of configurations that allow you to distribute data to a particular seat at a destination.


When you select segments to distribute to a destination account, that creates a “distribution”. LiveRamp then delivers the data to the destination, and then refreshes that data periodically. See “How LiveRamp Refreshes Distributed Data” for more information.

First-Party/Second-Party/Third-Party Data

When we use these terms, we mean:

  • First-party data is data that you’ve collected yourself
  • Second-party data is data that a partner has shared with you
  • Third-party data is data that you’ve purchased from a third party

Get Your Data Into LiveRamp

The goal of formatting your files and sending them to LiveRamp is to create segments in your account (which you then send to destinations). 

To understand how LiveRamp processes your files to create and update segments in an audience, see the “How Records are Assigned to Segments” section of the “Segment” article.

Data restrictions: For privacy reasons, we do have some restrictions on the kinds of data we're able to onboard.

Create Files

Make sure to properly format your files so that we can process them quickly. It’s especially important to keep the following key guidelines in mind:

  • All files must contain an audience key (if you aren’t able to provide a client customer ID (CCID) as the audience key for your records, we will choose the PII identifier that has the largest fill rate (percentage of records with a value) and that identifier will be used as the audience key for all files in that audience).
  • Once you decide on a format for your files, the audience key and the column headers for the identifier columns that we use for matching must stay exactly consistent across files.
  • If you’ll be sending files with different audience keys and/or identifier types (for example, if you’ll be sending both files with PII and files with mobile device IDs), let your LiveRamp Implementation Manager know. Otherwise, we will assume that all files use the same audience key and contain the same type of identifiers.
  • A given field in an audience can have no more than 100 distinct values.
  • A given segment in an audience must have a minimum of 25 unique records in it. If you send a segment that has fewer than 25 records, it will not be imported into your audience.
  • LiveRamp's file limits and audience limits.

New Customers: Let your Implementation Manager know how many distinct file formats you’ll be sending (i.e., formats with different column headers, different identifier data fields, or different audience keys). 

For each distinct file format, let your Implementation Manager know if you want to match at individual or household precision level. Also let us know if you want to us to import your files as an incremental refresh, segment refresh, or full refresh. See "Ways to Update an Existing Audience" for more information.

Send Files to LiveRamp

Once you’ve decided on your distinct file formats, you can send your data to us in a number of ways. In general, we recommend that you either upload your data via SFTP or have us retrieve it from an AWS S3 bucket. Files 500MB and under can also be uploaded via Connect.

New Customers: Let your Implementation Manager know which file delivery method you’d like to use.

After you've uploaded your file or files, you'll need to wait 1-3 days for us to process the data before it's ready to go out to your destination platforms.

Manage Your Segments

LiveRamp creates segments directly from the data you've uploaded, but you can also use Connect to create derived segments from your data. For instance, you could create a custom [SERIOUS WOMEN:Y] segment, to be applied to all users who have both the [GENDER:Female] and [SERIOUS BUYER:Y] segments.

How do you get there? Hover over MANAGE in the left navigation bar, and then select the audience that contains the segments you want to manage.

You can also tag segments with labels, which allows you to easily organize, manage, and quickly distribute even large numbers of segments.

And if you're interested in A/B testing your downstream marketing efforts, the Connect dashboard makes it simple to split your data into test and control groups.

Distribute Your Data

Now that your data is organized into segments and tagged, it's time to send it to your digital marketing destinations. Start by activating destination accounts for your desired destinations.

How do you get there? Hover over OUT in the left navigation bar, and then select "My Destinations" to navigate to the Your Destination Accounts page.

Don't see your destination? LiveRamp is integrated with more than 500 different marketing destinations, so it's likely we're already set up to send your data where it needs to go. If you need to send data to a destination that doesn't appear in Connect, we can do that too—just contact your LiveRamp representative to get a new integration implemented.

Many destinations need little or no configuration to get started distributing data. Some will ask you for app-specific information, such as your account ID with their platform. See "Account-Specific Destination Information" for a quick look at what configuration information you'll need for your intended destination(s), if any.

Once your destination accounts are activated, distributing data is as simple as selecting the segments you want to send out and clicking Add to Distribution. You can typically expect a destination to show your data as having been delivered within 3 days.

See these help articles for more information on viewing delivery status, troubleshooting, and more.

View Your Reports

The Connect dashboard shows a variety of stats to let you see how effectively your data is being distributed. One important metric is match rate, the percentage of records in your raw data file that we were able to match to at least one online device or ID in our network.

How do you get there? Hover over VIEW in the left navigation bar, and then select "My Dashboard".

Want better match rates? See "Tips to Improve Your Match Rate" for more information on ways to improve your match rate.

In addition to stats on the Connect dashboard, we can provide a Match Report, a PDF showing an estimate of the overall match percentage for a file for many of our most popular destinations. We also offer Matchbacks, which are reports that let you see exactly which records in a given file would be successfully delivered to a particular destination at the time of the request.

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Updated 6/5/20.