Identity Management Fundamentals

Identity Management Fundamentals

Double-check your ID Merge status

This course reflects the behavior of Mixpanel's improved identity management system with Identity Merge enabled. You can check if your organization is using Identity Merge or request access to it using the steps outlined here.

Identity Management refers to the process of resolving user identity.  This section of the course explains at a high level how Mixpanel approaches the issue and how you can use our tools in your implementation to make sure all information is correctly attributed to a user.

ID Management Cheat Sheet

If you are already familiar with the concept of identity management and just want a quick reminder on what to do, feel free to jump to the ID management cheat sheet.  It is a quick summary of what to do in most cases.

The distinct_id

Mixpanel’s event-based architecture requires that each event has an identifying value attached representing the user it is associated with.  This identifying value is referred to as the distinct_id.  Mixpanel considers all events with the same distinct_id to belong to the same user. If a profile and an event have the same distinct_id, Mixpanel knows that the event was performed by the user with that profile.

It is often the case that events are performed before user identity is known.  All events tracked require a distinct_id value so a unique anonymous value is often used before a user can be identified. Once we know who the user is, their activity can be tracked using a known identifier of our choosing.

This scenario presents an issue.  Two distinct_id’s will end up being used to refer to the activity of the same user. Based on our current understanding of how events are attributed to users, the activity will be seen by Mixpanel as being completed by two separate users.  

The identity merge system was built to address this issue so that it is possible to merge multiple identifiers together so that events from both distinct_ids are seen as originating from the same user.