Sharing data across multiple third parties to maximize cross-device matching and reach often feels like the children's game of telephone. Pieces of information are lost as content is passed from party to party; by the end, what was being shared doesn't resemble what it was when it began. It's a fun game when you're 5, but it loses its charm when you're talking about the loss of data and the implications of that in modern marketing. In a world where we interact with more than three devices each day, our concern about personal data leakage rightly increases.
What's lost along the way? Above all, relevance. Attributes, even entire profiles, drop off as the quality and value of data decreases. And as relevance diminishes, you lose one of your most valuable assets as a company: an understanding of your customers. Are you messaging a male millennial or a female baby boomer? What are your customers' shopping behaviors—do they prefer to make all purchases in-store or only big-ticket items? We've all received an ad that's poorly targeted. Not only is it annoying, but it also becomes a black mark on the brand. Any traction built by the responsible use of data begins to crumble. This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the overall lack of campaign effectiveness.
So how can you maintain the fidelity of your data? Here are three important areas to consider before you launch your next campaign:
1. Consolidate, convert and match your data all in one place.
If you work with one partner that matches to device IDs and another that matches to cookies, you're going to transform your profiles or, worse, lose some of them entirely. It's a problem of our own making, and it's preventable. Pick the partner that can best help you reach and engage your target audience. If you are required to work with multiple partners, make sure they're able to expand your reach with the addition of unique profiles while following similar methodologies in order to avoid data leakage due to incompatibility. It's important to understand whether they are making hard matches from devices to individuals based on known variables or making inferred matches based on assumptions. It surprises me, but there are still companies that use probabilistic match over deterministic. And all matches need to be verified by a reputable third party. It's a vital factor in determining if you are actually matching your list to individuals—and it's often overlooked.
2. Matching is only part of the equation; marketers also need to activate their campaigns with as few partners as possible.
Ideally, you'll have one partner that handles both the match and the activation, but I'm a realist. In most cases, that's not going to happen. Identify partners that are not only media-agnostic, but that also offer extensive scale. Consumers move seamlessly between multiple devices, apps and websites, so you can't afford to think or act in siloes. At the same time, you also can't afford to work with every company offering the latest breakthrough solution.
3. Finally, treat your consumer profiles as you would a relationship.
It's true—people move, they delete cookies, they lose and update their phones. Consumer profiles that continue to develop over time are integral in preventing data infidelity. As marketers, we have to be vigilant and continually update these profiles. Profiles need to grow with your consumers so you know what stage they are at in life. Without this, it doesn't matter who you pick as your match or activation partner. And, as in any relationship, respect the right to privacy. Each consumer profile should be anonymized, stripped of all personally identifiable information and assigned an ID. This allows you to tie back any recorded activity to the same individual while doing so in a safe and responsible manner.
Just as in the telephone game, the key to success is to limit the number of players. Keep a cap on the number of parties that are executing your campaigns. But given the nature of our business, I know it's likely that brands are crisscrossing the advertising landscape and working alongside a number of partners. While there is no guarantee that you won't lose some data even if you follow the outlined steps, we owe it to consumers to stop playing games.
About the Author
Nancy Hall is a digital marketing executive with more than 15 years of experience working with best-in-class agencies and brands to develop programs that drive performance across multiple devices and channels. As SVP of Eastern Sales at Conversant, she leads a team responsible for working with agencies and their clients to reach consumers with personalized messages across devices.
Nancy was previously VP of ValueClick Platform Services, where she was responsible for leading sales teams across healthcare, retail and travel verticals. A member of the IAB and 212NYC, Nancy has extensive experience speaking at industry conferences and events about topics such as data usage, incrementality, branding and attribution.
About the Sponsor
Conversant is a leader in personalized digital marketing. Conversant helps the world's biggest companies grow by creating personalized experiences that deliver higher returns for brands and greater satisfaction for people. We offer a fully integrated personalization platform, personalized media programs and the world's largest affiliate marketing network—all fueled by a deep understanding of what motivates people to engage, connect and buy. For more information, please visit www.conversantmedia.com.