Advice On Cross-Device: Email, Attribution And The DMA's New RFI

There is scarcely a word about email in the cross-device ID template, or RFI, from the Data & Marketing Association (DMA). But every email marketer should study it for insights on cross-device engagement and how email fits into it.  

Deployed this month after an earlier pass last year, the RFI is designed to lead to “an understanding of how to approach terminology and language,” said Josh Blacksmith, SVP-group management director for FCB Chicago, in an interview. This, in turn, should result in clearer communication between brands, agencies and vendors.

What role does email play in the cross-channel mix?

“Email continues to be one of the highest-performing channels in driving conversions and engagement with brands,” Blacksmith said. “By layering email into your communication plan, you’re introducing another highly engaging channel to move the relationship forward.”

Apply the lessons in the RFI, and you can target the consumer “across devices in an anonymous state,” Blacksmith continued. “Email is an addressable channel, and pick up where the anonymous state left off.”

This is not about using email in isolation, but tied to wherever the person is in the digital ecosystem. That capability is key in sequential storytelling.

“You want to start that story on one device, with a mobile banner,” Blacksmith said. “Ideally, you would be able to continue the next time they log onto their dot-com, and further the story by using a follow-up email, particularly if it’s a known individual.”

How can the RFI help you with this? By letting you know precisely what you need to tell your vendor to achieve it. Follow the RFI, and you will provide your supplier with use cases on the following three classes of individuals:

  1. Person-specific, using anonymized PII — 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.

There’s more. Your use cases — cases requiring cross-device identification — should also contain person-specific examples: 

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

Confused by some of this terminology? Don’t be: The RFI includes contains a glossary of attribution-related terms, from probabilistic to deterministic.

Judging by the RFI, though, you’ll also be asked for benchmarks and objectives, and your agency or vendor will want to know if you desire precision or scale.

One byproduct of this attempt at standardization is that vendors are wasting less time determining what clients need. You may never use the document, but it helps to even be able to think in those terms. 

The RFI is the result of a collaboration between marketers, agencies and data/technology solution providers, members of the DMA’s Cross-Device Identification (XDID) Structured Innovation program. This version follows a test launch and a comment period last year.



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