Commentary

How To Reframe Identity

The ad tech/martech arena is full of meaningless jargon and acronyms used as shorthand for companies that are striving to offer  “solutions” and “tools” to help marketers figure out how to connect with their customers.

The notion of identity is at the core of so-called people-based marketing. Marketers want to know who their customers are, their dispositions, preferences, and the like, and understand their behavior across devices, online and offline.

In talking to Neustar which describes itself as an “information services provider” that connects the offline and online words, RTBlog learned that the company has four lines of business:marketing, communications, risk, and security. Its OneID system powers all four businesses. It has deep relationships with cable multiservice operators and wireless carriers; the company runs caller ID for over 90% of North America. Credit cards and banks run their transactions through it. The OneID system collects consumer signals from many different touchpoints and corroborates them to offer real-time information.

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It sees identity as foundational layer that everything builds from. “How do we understand people and how they act in the world through places and things, and then how do we build meaningful marketing?” said Julie Fleischer, VP of product marketing, Neustar.

Fleischer, a former managing director at OMD who also spent time in the trenches at Kraft Foods Group leading CRM (oops, there’s an acronym) and a host of other data and research efforts, said marrying CRM insights with the capabilities of a data management platform (DMP), (oops, there’s another acronym), is important to marketers.

“We have an identify issue in the industry. What does marketing look like if we have an understanding of who we’re talking to, and measure whether it’s made someone buy?” Fleischer asked. From that standpoint, her frustration is that the ad tech and martech “solutions” don’t understand consumers.

Having been on both the agency and marketer sides, Fleischer said while at Kraft, she didn’t want to merely buy audiences; she wanted to see what they’re made of. How do ad-tech/martech providers build audiences? “We wanted to understand not just the architecture of how these data segments are created, but know what’s in them,” she said.

There were inherent challenges. For example, if she wanted to target people who grill, she could start with the concept of grilling food and map it to the media devices people use.  However, what marketers quickly find out is that working with several vendors, you end of speaking to the same person in “17 different ways” because there are too many segments. This leads one to the question: How do you define "identity"?

For its part, Neustar believes in a person-to-person approach, and that it's best to work with industry associations like The Ad Council, the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers. Neustar is interested in helping educate marketers about the questions they need to ask ad-tech and martech providers to get a better handle on whether their data services have integrity, and whether they can be trusted.

“We want to retake and reframe identity. To do that, we must educate marketers as to what identity—online and offline—means, and all the connections that are around the customer,” Fleischer said. It appears that Neustar wants to help marketers gain a better understanding of whether they’re getting to consumers’ true identity and how should they be thinking about identity.

Further, Fleischer maintained that Neustar is an advocate of second-party data:online and offline. First-party data is valuable, to be sure. “Third-party data is flawed but somewhat valuable,” she said. We want to help marketers understand what they need and what they’re getting and the difference it makes. They need to marry the first- second-, and third-party data to people places and things.”

Neustar is positioning itself as a company capable of offering marketers complete insight into who they’re serving and reaching from the first encounter, offline or online, to their most recent interaction with marketers’ brands. How is that possible?  Fleischer explained that Neustar holds authoritative signals and an advantage because its technology uses OneID throughout the entire process.

Google on Friday selected Neustar as a marketing mix partner, which allows Neustar to bring Google ad data into the mix. The goal is to show marketers how their ad spend is doing by channel.

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