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29 May

Marketers! These are the Top Questions to Ask Identity Matching Partners

Author: Megan Rainey

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Data-Driven Marketing

Identity Matching Questions

Marketers have cracked the code on understanding how critical data is to their campaigns. However, managing the data and making sense of how it should be used to reach your customers is the next fundamental step in order to create the most individualized experience for your customers.

Marketers! These are the Top Questions to Ask Identity Matching Partners

According to a recent forecast by Cisco, there will be four networked devices and connections per person globally by 2021 and in North America, there will be 13 networked devices and connections per person, up from eight last year. This presents an enormous opportunity to connect with consumers, but with all these touchpoints comes the challenge of matching each device back to the same person or household for a more controlled message to consumers as they move through the customer journey- both online and offline.

According to Forrester and DMA, understanding customer interactions across all touchpoints is the #1 challenge for marketers.

Consumers expect companies to use the data they provide to deliver relevant, personal experiences across sessions, devices and touchpoints, deployed in real time through their channel of choice. Identity matching is the ability to track behavior across multiple devices. It is a complex process, and when it comes to protecting consumer privacy, it should be.

Marketers have a lot of choices in choosing who they partner with for identity matching and who will execute their data matching strategy. Below we have offered our top questions to help you when screening identity matching partners.

How do you define a match rate?

As defined by LiveRamp, a match rate refers to the percent of users from a file that an onboarder, or match partner, is able to find and anonymously tag with data.

Because a match rate can be defined multiple ways, it is critical that you understand from your potential matching partner how they define their match rate first, and then decide if it is aligned with the goal you’re trying to achieve. For example, are you looking for a match partner who uses a single point match where one match equals each device matched to one consumer or a multi-point match where one match equals one or more devices matched to one customer?

What methodology do you use to match? (cookies, IP addresses, email addresses)

Marketers have to be able to link offline and online behavior for the same household or individual using postal name and address, IP address, email address, mobile phone number, landlines, device IDs, smart TVs and cookies. There are many options when making your connection to customers. Here are a few…

  • Cookies are small text files which contain a unique ID and are placed on your computer by a website to remember certain pieces of information about online users and improve the user experience. The process of matching the identifiers on those cookies is called cookie matching. While no methodology will be 100% accurate, (think about multiple users accessing content through the same device), cookie matching is regarded as highly accurate. But, since cookies can get deleted, you may sacrifice some scale.
  • IP Address is the digital address of your device (computers, tablets, and smartphones). They are dynamic and will be associated with the network you are on. Every time you use a laptop on a Wi-Fi network, you're switching IP addresses. You'll be using the IP address of whatever network you're on. If you are at the office or Starbucks or at a hotel, you will have a different IP address than the last. But you will have the same IP address as the person sitting next to you.
  • Email Address is another method by which marketers map to consumer devices. Because of its portability, people often keep their personal email for a long time. Email can be considered a central identifier because there are many apps and online accounts that require an email address to log in for access. However, email matching can include complications given by the fact that people are linked to several forms of identity, beyond just email. And, the average person has two email addresses and multiple devices making the identity match challenging.

What are your match rates? 

When asking this question, it’s important to understand that a perfect match rate of 100% does not exist. In fact, the average match rate is more around 40%. There are many reasons a match rate can go up and down. For example, with matching online to offline, remember that not all visitors are created equal. If a site tends to attract visitors who are more “tech savvy” and the visitors regularly clear their cookies, the link between cookie and address gets lost and the result? A lower match rate. The context around the site content and audience is important to keep in mind before feeling shocked by a high or low match rate.

What privacy guardrails do you have in place for matching?

When dealing with consumer data it is critical that the necessary privacy guardrails are in place at every stage in the matching process. Be sure to ask about the following…how is the data stored? How is it transferred to and from the advertiser? What type of firewalls or encryption is used to maintain the anonymity of the data? Besides the matching partners, is the data touched by any other third party? As marketers, we all have a responsibility to deliver effective and personalized marketing, but we have an even bigger responsibility in protecting the privacy of our customers.

Identity matching is table stakes at this point in the marketing game. Understanding your objective when taking on a new relationship with an identity matching partner is the first step to ensuring that you are set up to succeed in a seemingly complicated identity matching ecosystem.

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