Brands have long invested heavily in their CRM and DMP systems in order to gather as much data as possible about customers. However, those same brands are having a hard time leveraging that data in a unified way across channels and devices to identify the right trigger moments to market to their customers.
According to a February 2019 study by BCG across 200 top brands, some of the main challenges that CMOs and advertisers face today are:
- not making connections across consumer touchpoints and devices (83% of respondents)
- inadequate cross-functional coordination (80%)
- lack of data integration and activation across channels (50%)
The need is obvious — the more brands know about their customers, the better they can market to them. However, identity linkages and external data attributes for deeper insights are needed for true people-based marketing — the holy grail of any successful marketing strategy
People-Based Marketing: Combining Identity Resolution and Data Enrichment
How can brands achieve the lofty goal of successful people-based marketing?
It all starts with identity resolution. As user data is siloed by channel or device, the process of identity resolution allows brands to have a 360 view of the customers by accurately connecting different customers identifiers — such as CRM offline data, mobile cookies, mobile AdIDs, or desktop cookies — to one single user, and creating a device graph accordingly. It follows with data enrichment. Once brands can reach their customers across channels and devices, the process of data enrichment allows them to better understand their customers beyond the basic data points they may have been able to collect from their properties or services. Then they can make better-informed marketing decisions and even enhance their own AI and machine learning models.
The reality is that matching different user identifiers precisely without losing any scale is still a challenge for most brands, as well as finding the right external data to accurately enrich their user profiles.
The Cookie Challenge
The industry has relied heavily on cookies until recently, which has made identity resolution a much more complicated goal to master. After all, cookies are unreliable, have a limited timespan, and most importantly, cookie duplication results in endless syncings that decrease precision as more vendors pile on.
Some brands rely on deterministic cookie syncing. For example, let’s say a user logs into her BBC account on both her phone and desktop on a different day. Now BBC can connect that email address to a mobile AdID and to a desktop cookie, and brands can work with BBC to make that data actionable. This would allow them to get explicit links between identifiers, albeit at the expense of scale.
A much wider practice is probabilistic cookie syncing. This happens when ad tech companies gather information on users’ online behavior like IP addresses, location, gender and interests based on web browsing. Their proprietary algorithms are then able to find patterns and identify the same user across devices and channels. The probability can range from low to high, causing brands to trade precision for scale.
A Look into the Future
So how can we achieve both accuracy and scale when dealing with identity resolution?
To start with, the industry is shifting and AdIDs are rising as the most widely-accepted alternative to cookies for better identity resolution. The advantages of AdIDs are many:
- they track devices and not browsers
- they work well on mobile including in-app
- they are permanent and don’t expire
- they are unique to each device
And in terms of achieving scale, it’s critical to find an identity resolution provider that has the connections to source the data in a scalable way.
People-based marketing has to move past cookies and start to rely more heavily on AdIDs. Providers that are too dependent on cookies and source behavioral data from them will face multiple challenges moving forward. Brands have to treat identity resolution and data enrichment as one. It is important to understand the veracity of any data that’s used in the process and its sourcing method is a good place to start.
We need to stop compromising. Advertisers need both accuracy and scale to develop the right marketing strategies that fit each client individually. We all want to reach the holy grail of people-based marketing to truly realize the promise of digital.
About our guest author:
As Data Consultant at zeotap Germany, Sandra Stenzel helps brand marketers better achieve their ROI objectives. She advocates for better consumer understanding so that brands can identify the right trigger moments to acquire new users, as well as prevent churn.