Marketing Twofer: Data and Devices

Acxiom has long been known for pulling in thousands of data points for use by marketers. And they’re now selectable through its AudienceCloud service. But the company has another capability: digital identity resolution. This lets clients know when they’re reaching someone on multiple devices.

Where and how do these two activities come together? To find out, we spoke with Jeff Smith, chief marketing officer of LiveRamp, an Acxiom firm devoted to identity resolution and data onboarding. 

Do digital channels constitute a data variable, in the same way as demographic and transactional data?
All these data points play into the marketing equation. If you think about what marketers are trying to do these days, with consumers addressable 24/7 on some basis, you want to have as natural a conversation as possible with the target audience. The first step is recognizing who’s on other end of the device. But that’s just the start. I might be able to tell you’re a big outdoor person. But if you just bought a backpack, I don’t want to serve you an ad for backpacks: Ideally, the next time I encounter you, I might want to serve an ad for trekking poles. Data supplies context. It’s the difference between knowing it’s Jeff, and knowing Jeff.



Does your idea of identity resolution include both online and offline channels?
LiveRamp has built some capability in the digital world. But people also have an offline identity, and you can only achieve true omni-channel capability when you connect those two pieces. Over the last 10 or 15 years, I have had five different addresses, at least two phone numbers, and I’m married, so I probably have a hyphenated last name at this point.

Are many companies getting it?
We conducted a survey a couple of months ago.

We found that about 60% of marketers are working with some type of identity resolution vendor. That means 40% are not even starting to resolve the issue. And for those that are working with a vendor, a lot of them are not going further than taking basic data out of their customer service or transactional systems. They also need second- and third-party data. The last leg of the stool is second-party data. Potentially, an airline and I can partner with a hotel chain to share data that might be beneficial to each.

Which verticals are good at it?
Retail and financial services, first because they create so many promotional offers. Financial services offer pre-approved credit cards, so they need someone with solid credit history — the importance of knowing who you’re speaking to is elevated in those verticals. The second reason they’re ahead is that they have built fairly robust CRM databases on their customer sets.

Any tips for newcomers?
First: Walk before you run. The big picture is building this omni-channel view — and that’s great. But start by working with an identity-resolution vendor, or an onboarder, to start recognizing people on their devices. The slam-dunk place is audience suppression or ad suppression. Don’t serve ads to people who are not in your target audience. It’s more economical in terms of your digital budget, but it’s also better for your audience and your brand. It’s easy to prove out the ROI, and build from there.

Second: Don’t forget privacy. It should be built into your approach from day one. The DMA just gave an update: basically, don’t tie specific data from the digital world back to personally identifiable information in the offline world. It’s fine to use that data as context to market to segments of people, but never take it so far as to understand that it specifically relates to me as an individual.

What’s new on the horizon?
Two things. First, we’re doing some things that will allow companies to unify and leverage what other people know (you don’t know everything) and build a complete omni-channel view. On a broader front, we’ve got data moving from offline into the digital world, and between digital channels. The final direction in the flow of information is learning from the digital space to improve marketing in the offline world — for example, to determine when you send a piece of direct mail.  

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