New From the DMA: A Cross-Device RFI And Glossary

At last: A tool to help marketers achieve cross-device identification, then move on to identity-based marketing.

The tool? A sample RFI created by the Direct Marketing Association’s XDID Structured Innovation Advisory Council.

The objective? To facilitate the sharing of clear information between vendors, clients and agencies, according to the speakers at a recent DMA webinar. The group has even put together a glossary of terms. And it wants your comments. 

Why is this important? Because marketers must “engage with your consumer wherever and whenever you might across any medium, and across every device,” said Jeff Smith, CMO of LiveRamp, during the webinar. But it has to be done in a conversational manner, and the digital revolution has changed the process. 



Marketers have moved away from the “people-based marketing” seen in tailored direct mail. And the plethora of new devices is to blame, Smith observed. Companies have been “marketing to approximations of people, to cookies, and to mobile IDs, and a host of other identifiers that gave us some idea of who we were talking to, but were not exact, in that manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, three out of four buyers told the DMA that “buying cross-device identity capabilities and implementing is either among their top, or in the top three, 2017 challenges,” said moderator and task-force head David Kohl, CEO of Morgan Digital Ventures.

Josh Blacksmith, SVP, group management director at FCB Chicago, added that “every one of our clients is incredibly focused on building a better experience.” That starts with not acting as if every customer is brand new, and creating sequential storytelling to move them further down the funnel, while observing a cross-device frequency cap.

However, it’s hard to buy technology when a company can’t even communicate clearly with its providers (who waste time responding to confusing requests). To help with this, the RFI template stresses use cases, and an honest presentation of where a client is and what it hopes to achieve.

Granted, it was no small challenge putting this into plain English. “We speak ad-tech fluently and we speak brand very poorly,” Smith said.

The task force wanted simplicity, but not “dumb-it-down simplicity,” Kohl stated.  

So what did they come up with? Here’s what you need to do to embrace the sample RFI:

First, the client must provide the vendor with clear background information. Use cases are broken into three groups:

  • Person-specific;
  • Person-specific, using personally identifiable information;
  • Device-specific.

The client must also delineate its:

  • Scope of services;
  • Data sources;
  • Privacy policy.

It should lay out its:

  • Precision and reach optimization strategy;
  • Reach (or scale).

Finally, there are these information needs:

  • First- and third-party data onboarding and integration;
  • Match rate between “our provided data set and yours”;
  • Activation (How many matched unique individuals and devices can you activate across the following channels and geographies?);
  • Limitations;
  • Benchmarks;
  • Insights and reporting.

Simple enough, no? Then there’s the glossary, which includes often-misunderstood terms like deterministic and probalistic. (Deterministic relies on observed data, whereas probalistic is built on models.)

An even more abused and misused term is accuracy: The match rate, defined by the RFI as “the percentage of unique records in the client’s data set that can be matched to an identifier in the solution provider’s database,” may be a better term. One can “use accuracy in the vernacular, and not in the RFI,” said Kohl in a post-webinar interview.

So how are companies reacting to the RFI?

“As of a two weeks ago, just before the webinar, we had 275 downloads of the complete RFI, and we’ve got to believe if someone from MRM McCann downloaded it, they probably emailed it to everyone,” Kohl said.  

And their reactions?

“We’re hearing, ‘Give us more,” Kohl answered. “Companies love that this is cross-device. But they’re saying, ‘Can you make it cross-platform, including offline and smart TV?”

Kohl added that the task force will reconvene in January to put the finishing touches on the RFI. It will then decide whether to add cross-platform tips “or begin the next part of our structured program, which will be about multi-channel attribution.”

Multi-channel attribution? Yes.

“It’s a natural extension,” said Smith during the webinar. “Identity management applies to attribution and measurement also.” 

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