Form Follows Function: The DMA's New Cross-Device RFI

Cross-channel attribution is at the top of everyone’s to-do list.

In a Winterberry survey reported last week by eMarketer, 57% of the marketers polled said that attribution will occupy their time and resources this year, compared to 23% in 2016. That’s news because attribution knocked programmatic media buying out of its usual position as No. 1 in the Winterberry poll. This time, it was second, a full ten points behind attribution. And in third place, also related to attribution, was cross-channel identification and matching. It was cited by 42%.

Here’s one final proof of progress: Single-channel attribution, identified as an imperative by 25% last year, has simply disappeared.

With all this happening, it’s a perfect time to introduce the new cross-device ID template, or RFI, from the Digital & Data Marketing Association (DMA).



This is the second pass at it, following a test launch and a comment period last year. It is the result of collaboration between marketers, agencies and data/technology solution providers, members of the DMA’s Cross-Device Identification (XDID) Structured Innovation program.

Why do we need this document now, with all the advances cited above? Because many people still don’t know how to even define attribution. And this has gotten in the way of clear communication between brands, agencies and vendors.

“Before this existed, vendors were spending a lot of time responding to things they shouldn’t have responded to because they were unclear,” said David Kohl, CEO of Morgan Digital Ventures in an interview a few months ago.

That changed during the earlier phase last year, Kohl added.  

“We’ve heard, ‘The RFI is helping us decide ahead of time if we’re qualified to respond, before we respond, and put it in more time on the ones where we do qualify,” he said.

So what’s in the new version? Mostly, it consists of advice on how to communicate.

If you’re on the client side, for example, the DMA recommends that you provide your vendors with use cases for the following three groups of individuals:

  1. Person-specific, using anonymized PII  That means personally identifiable information associated with one or more devices, such as an email address.
  2. Person-specific, using anonymized data  Non-personally identifiable information linking a consumer to one or more devices. This might consist of an anonymized hash-code that represents a unique individual.
  3. Device-specific  Related devices that provide a limited understanding of the person behind them. This might include three devices that frequently connect via the same residential IP address.

You may never use the RFI, but it helps to even be able to think in those terms. Still, the job is not done. Your use cases — cases requiring cross-device identification — should also include these person-specific examples:

  • Evaluate cross-channel device behaviors of known customers to identify additional targets.
  • Contextually target cross-device messages based on known anonymous user preferences.
  • Attribute offline transactions to media exposure across connected media devices. Device-specific examples:
    • Amplify audiences identified on one device so that you can market to them on other devices.
    • Sequence and frequency-cap media exposure across devices.

The vendor will also want to understand the desired outcome. You’ll be asked benchmarks, and pressed to answer this question: “Do you want to give more weight to precision or scale?”

You’ll also have to describe your first- and third-party data. Some hypothetical examples from the RFI:

  • You have cookies associated with 5 million customer who have purchased products from your Web site in the past six months; 65% bought in the last 30 days, and 25% in the last 90.
  • You have mobile IDFAs, AAIDs and desktop cookies for 700,000 subscribers who have authenticated in the past year to access your premium content.

Do you consider that information proprietary? Don’t. This is just the start. Your agency or solution provider will ask for many other tidbits, and the RFI can help you cut to the chase.

Finally, the RFI also contains a glossary of attribution-related terms. Most marketers can define probalistic and deterministic, but do neophytes know what a truth set is? (It’s a deterministic source known to be 100% true, the DMA says.)

Enjoy the new RFI. 

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