Who are you? Not an easy question to answer. Now imagine the pickle that marketers are in trying to understand the many dimensions that make up their best customers, who are changing all the time. Identity has become highly politicized (and divisive) in digital advertising but it’s an essential tool for marketers to understand, find, and accurately target and message their customers.
Marketers are asking for what they want. Is anyone listening?
Marketers want to engage with real people. Ask any marketer — or agency, for that matter — about crafting personas that represent those people. The headwinds are strong. There’s data silos that require significant human hours (and technology) to create, validate, and test these personas. After all that work, it’s defeating to turn your personas into addressable audiences, only for them to fail or worse yet, not be able to prove that they didn’t fail.
Identity can solve it. The duopoly gets it, which is why they’ve put up walls. Marketers can get answers to important questions but we can’t take those learnings outside the walls. Publishers have enormous pressure on them to compete with walled gardens and from marketers who want and need to prove their ad spend is working. Identity can solve for both of these challenges.
How? Invite marketers to the table. Let’s kick off the conversation with the reasons why identity matters to us.
Five reasons why marketers care about identity
- Customers: You’ve heard every brand repeat some version of ‘our customers come first.’ That’s because it’s true both in principle and action. No customers, no business. What we know about customers is often limited by our view or interaction. Where identity comes into play is in filling in the many blind spots in our knowledge of customers. Data enrichment is one way marketers round out their view of customers in order to understand in real time their changing behaviors, passions, and interests. It’s imperative for marketers to be on top of those changes so we can speak to our customers in ways that resonate and in places that are meaningful and respectful.
Addressability: Now that we know our customers, let’s go find them. We talked above about the allure of the walled gardens in reaching customers at scale. Any marketer that wants to keep their job is beholden to this proof of ad spend well spent. If we can’t find our customers, we’ll invest elsewhere. Identity helps us make those ad bets with greater assurance that every dollar is going toward engaging someone who is actually interested or has a high propensity to be interested in our products. Context does matter but it comes second to identity.
Frequency capping: Customers are people and people can get easily annoyed by an ad they are not interested in or have seen too many times. Can you relate? Identity solves the frequency capping problem. When devices are connected across a customer’s digital life using identity, we can ensure that she is encouraged toward conversion versus enraged by the recurrence of an ad.
Measurement and attribution: Marketing is part art, part science. Here’s where the science comes in — we need proof our campaigns worked. Identity makes this happen. With identity we can follow the customer through their journey from exposure to conversion to repeat purchase, etc. We can also ascribe to the appropriate channels the credit for that conversion. Everyone wants to hear ‘job well done.‘ With identity, you just very well might.
Privacy: Everyone has the right to privacy and consent should work the way consumers think it does. Navigating privacy is increasingly more difficult for everyone in the digital advertising ecosystem. With privacy laws changing all the time, even well-meaning companies are having a tough time keeping up. It requires deep resources and trusted partners to do the right thing by consumers. But it can be done and identity can help.
There are significant challenges ahead for our industry. Investing in identity stands to benefit marketers, publishers, and consumers. And, let’s face it, we all need each other to survive. If we come together on identity, we can turn those headwinds into headway and build a future that connects rather than divides us.
Megan McKenna, vice-president of marketing, Lotame