Identity management overview

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Note: This offering is currently in closed beta, available to select Pendo customers for testing. The information that follows isn't a commitment, promise, or legal obligation. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described here are subject to change at the discretion of Pendo, which can occur without notice. If you're interested in getting early access and providing feedback, contact your Pendo account representative.

If a user visiting your app hasn’t been identified (for example, by signing in) they’re categorized as an anonymous visitor. Pendo saves and tracks anonymous visitors at the browser level using client-side data, like local storage and cookies.

With identity management, Pendo merges anonymous and identified Visitor IDs for a unified view of user journeys so that you can view the connected data in Pendo.

This article reviews what identity management is, how it works with the Pendo agent, and where you can view connected visitor data in the Pendo UI. For information on proper setup for identity management, see Identity management checklist.

What identity management is

Identity management links the activities performed by a visitor before they signed in to your app with the activities they performed as an identified visitor. For example, you might have a user who visits your marketing page and signs up on your website later that day.

Without identity management, Pendo maintains two separate Visitor IDs for the same user:

  • An anonymous Visitor ID for all pre-login activities.
  • An identified Visitor ID for all post-login activities.

These two IDs remain distinct, resulting in separate records for the same user and a fragmented view of their journey.

With identity management, Pendo merges the anonymous Visitor ID with the identified Visitor ID after the user signs in to your app. This integration consolidates the two IDs into a single visitor record, ensuring a holistic and comprehensive understanding of the user's journey.


How identity management works

When a visitor interacts with your app, whether they’re anonymous or identified, the Pendo agent captures a variety of events based on user activity.

One important event, the “identify” event, occurs when a previously anonymous visitor is identified by your app. This identification can happen by providing the visitor configuration object to pendo.initialize() or by using pendo.identify(), depending on how your app and install script is configured.

The Pendo identify event contains an “old_visitor_id” property, which the agent captures based on client-side data. For example, if the visitor previously had an anonymous Visitor ID of “_PENDO_T_12345”, the identify event payload would look something like this (with some properties removed for simplicity):

//properties removed for simplification
"props": {
"account_id": "New Account",
"old_account_id": "",
"old_visitor_id": "_PENDO_T_12345",
"visitor_id": "New Visitor"
"type": "identify",
"url": "",
"visitor_id": "New Visitor",
"id": "qp7C0c0pXMJ6tqfZ2MwXLo3rpW_3M_ESjWK5rMbxGZ8",
"appId": -323232,
"browserSentTime": 1700165556840,
"userAgent": "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_15_7)"

To combine these Visitor IDs, Pendo uses the “old_visitor_id” property and automatically merges visitor records when the old Visitor ID is anonymous (starting with “_PENDO_T_”) and the “new” Visitor ID is identified.

Anonymous return visits

If an anonymous visitor returns to your app, Pendo attempts to use the same anonymous Visitor ID for them. However, if the saved anonymous ID is inaccessible due to cleared browser cookies or a visit from a new browser or device, a new anonymous Visitor ID is generated. This means that a single visitor can have multiple anonymous Visitor IDs.

Pendo can merge multiple anonymous Visitor IDs with a single identified Visitor ID as long as they sign in to your app in the browser where they were originally anonymous. While searching for events related to multiple anonymous Visitor IDs, Pendo looks for corresponding IDs up to 90 days before their first identified visit.

Anonymous visits from multiple devices

If a single user visits your app on two different devices, we merge the anonymous and identified activities after the visitor signs in on each device.


Anonymous visits in multiple apps

If a user visits two of your apps that share domains and cross-app cookies are turned on, we maintain the same anonymous Visitor ID. After the visitor signs in on one of those apps, we merge their anonymous and identified activities.


If the subdomains don’t share cookies, Pendo can’t merge the anonymous and identified activities, treating the subdomains as separate domains. For information on setting up your cookie domain and cross-app cookies, see Track anonymous visitors across subdomains.

If a user visits two apps on separate domains with distinct logins, we can still merge anonymous and identified activities after the user signs in to each app. The visitor must have the same Visitor ID in both apps for all activities to merge under a single Visitor ID after signing in.


In a more complicated scenario where a visitor navigates between three different apps across two distinct domains, each app has shared cookies turned on. A consistent Visitor ID mapping is implemented across these apps.

When the visitor engages with the two apps on a shared domain, Pendo maintains a single anonymous Visitor ID. After signing in on one of those apps, Pendo merges the anonymous and identified activities. After the user visits the app that’s on a separate domain, Pendo creates a new anonymous Visitor ID. However, after they sign in to that third app, Pendo merges this activity with the identified user.


Multiple identify events within an hour

If Pendo receives multiple identify events within the same hour, we only log the first identify event. For example, if a visitor duplicates a tab and signs in using two different Visitor IDs from the two tabs, we only take the first login in to account.

View connected data

After you join our early access program, we activate identity management for your subscription so that you can view the automatic display of connected data throughout Pendo. This connected data encompasses visitor activities from both anonymous and identified states.

You can choose to view which activities occurred while a visitor was anonymous or identified in paths, funnels, Data Explorer, and the visitor activity log.

Note: If you're not seeing the data you expect, we recommend evaluating your setup with our Identity management checklist. Identity management doesn't currently support connecting data in guide and segment targeting. For example, one-time guides can display for visitors multiple times if they're eligible while anonymous and identified.

In funnels

When creating a new funnel or editing an existing funnel and paths, select Connect anonymous activities to identified visitors at the bottom of the query.


If you run a funnel with Highlight potential changes turned on, this highlights metrics in the report, including arrows and percentages, to indicate changes in the data after incorporating anonymous activities.


In paths

When creating a new path or editing an existing path, select Connect anonymous activities to identified visitors at the bottom of the query.


When you select a path step, refer to the Was anonymous? column in the breakdown table to understand whether a visitor was anonymous at the time they generated the corresponding event.

If you run the path with Highlight potential changes turned on, this highlights the potentially anonymous activities in a light orange color. Hover over the step to view the total interactions and mapped interactions (views, clicks, or events). Mapped interactions means that the visitor was anonymous at some step along the path, but not necessarily that step.


In Data Explorer

When creating a new Data Explorer report or editing an existing Data Explorer report, select Connect anonymous activities to identified visitors at the bottom of the query.


Compare anonymous and identified usage data by creating an identical report without identity management turned on and adding the two Data Explorer reports to a dashboard to analyze side by side.

To compare anonymous and identified usage data, create an identical report without identity management turned on, and then add each Data Explorer report to a dashboard to compare the results side by side.

In visitor details

When viewing the details page for a specific visitor, select View Activity to open the visitor activity log, and then select the Identity management toggle below the filters. Anonymous activities are indicated by a gray Anonymous label.


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