A new category has appeared in the LUMAscape, the marketing technology taxonomy defined by investment bank LUMA Partners. It's called "identity," and it's much more than just branding or semantics: It's a fundamental shift in the way marketers approach their customers — the foundation for all brand engagements.
At its core, identity provides the contextual relevance necessary to relate to consumers on a personal and continual basis — the underlying link between otherwise completely random events and interactions with a customer. In fact, if you take a moment to look at the big picture, identity is arguably bigger than all of ad tech and martech put together. Broadly defined, ad tech helps brands acquire new customers and prospects across paid media, while martech builds relationships with known customers through owned channels. Successful marketing needs both, and identity is where these two worlds converge.
In effect, the introduction of LUMA's new identity category heralds the culmination of a revolution that began when Facebook enabled brands to take the art and science of high-performing one-to-one marketing and unleash it at massive scale. Brands then sought to extend that same known-user marketing outside of the social network's closed walls and into even more channels.
But not all identity solutions are created equal. In order for identity to fulfill its potential, it needs to be durable (i.e., immune to the inevitable decay facing fragile cookies), portable (optimized across a range of consumer-driven touchpoints) and always-on (a vigilant, 24/7 presence driving customer recognition and more personalized, relevant experiences). Consumers are living their digital lives seamlessly across channels and environments, so marketers need an identity solution that works wherever the consumer lives.
As data continues to drive business, identity should be approached as an enterprisewide solution, not only an instrument of advertising execution. Identity is the connection point between all customer interactions, online and off, past and present. It's a catalog of information from across touchpoints, and it offers unprecedented visibility into what customers want, as well as where, when and how to fulfill their needs.
For identity to drive results, customer data must rest exclusively in the brand's possession in order to maintain consistent and meaningful connections across channels and throughout the customer relationship life cycle, not just for the duration of a campaign. In a culture where marketers are far too often forced to give up control of their data to a vendor and hope for the best, identity requires total buy-in across the enterprise to break down organizational silos and adopt a customer-centric mindset that drives every decision.
In addition, a brand's identity infrastructure must not only match and distribute data in real time, freely and directly to any endpoint, but persist throughout the lifetime of the customer relationship. All too often we hear brands complain about repeatedly restarting conversations with customers because they don't know who their customers are. Starting from scratch costs brands time and money, and it costs them consumer trust. That's why marketing technology must advance from stop-and-go campaigns to an ongoing, constantly evolving and identity-driven relationship with an engaged, always-on consumer.
Brands must continually take note of customers' ever-changing behaviors and offer more relevant, valuable and compelling experiences at every point of engagement. Legacy brands may not have the benefit of entering the marketplace with a clean slate, but they have something even more advantageous: years of rich customer data that can inspire smarter decisions around products, services, internal processes and improving the bottom line.
Enterprisewide identity makes all of this possible. It goes beyond the limitations of what a Data Management Platform (DMP) can do. It's beyond what a Customer Data Platform (CDP) can do. It's broader than an onboarder. It's looking at identity in a much more strategic and comprehensive way. Because marketing is no longer about just winning the conversion; it's about maintaining the conversation.