Marketing to People: What Advertisers Need to Know About Bringing Offline Data Online

Today’s advertisers want to reach real people, in real time, who are interested in their brand. This goal is clear, but it’s difficult to achieve. To accomplish this vision, known as people-based marketing, marketers must unlock the full potential of their first-party data. And that means marketers need a fast, simple and transparent way to tap into their rich offline storehouses of consumer data to reach their customers wherever they are online.

The key to initiating people-based marketing is having the ability to upload offline data (such as audience segments in a CRM system) to the online environment—a process called data onboarding. Once there, it can be matched with digital data and activated for people-based targeting, measurement and personalization.

Onboarding has recently become a hot topic in the advertising community. But as a service, onboarding is not especially new. The best-known onboarding company, LiveRamp, has been offering its solution since 2012. Companies upload their customer lists to LiveRamp, which matches customer identities across channels and devices, and pushes out these customer IDs to media vendors, a process that typically takes five to seven days.

But five days is far too slow when it comes to people-based marketing.

Think about how consumers shop. They may review email offers on a phone, compare prices and read product reviews on a desktop, seek advice through social media on a tablet and then trek to a store to make a purchase—all in the span of a few hours. But unless a marketer is able to address the customer in real time across all these touch points, the opportunity to engage the consumer with accuracy and relevancy is lost—as is the advertiser’s potential conversion.

Realizing there was room for improvement, last year Facebook rolled out its people-based solution, Custom Audiences. Facebook’s solution allows advertisers to upload and match their known customer email lists with Facebook’s 1.5 billion users to advertise within Facebook properties. The scale is unmatched and, at three hours, the onboarding time is certainly attractive. But there is one critical downside: Facebook does not share user-level data or insights with its advertisers. Ditto for Twitter and Google, which have each recently launched their own custom-audience offerings.

This makes it impossible for advertisers to connect what happens inside the walled gardens with the rest of their marketing efforts.

Fortunately, these aren’t the only options. New solutions (including Signal) are emerging as advertisers seek a faster and simpler way to make sense of all their data and implement smarter, more efficient people-based marketing.

Advertisers should keep in mind the three most important capabilities necessary for real-time people-based marketing:

1. Persistence

To recognize individuals and the digital signals they’re sending in real time, all the time, across web and mobile, the consumer profiles created by onboarding need to be durable. This requires profiles that are tied to persistent identifiers, rather than relying on short-lived cookie-based data, so the profiles grow stronger with every consumer interaction and are always ready and available for activation.

2. Speed

The ability to capture, merge and activate data within milliseconds is essential to reaching a customer with the right message at the right time in the right place. Without real-time capabilities, advertisers miss opportunities to recognize and respond to the most precious of consumer data: live intent data.

3. Ownership

Only by owning their data and identities can brands gain a full view of the customer journey, allowing them to continually connect the dots among consumer touch points and the technology partners used to reach them. When data is trapped inside the walled gardens of media partners, advertisers are unable to close the loop on attribution or build deep, rich customer profiles.

At the end of the day, successful advertising all comes down to how well you know your customersnot guessing or assuming their behaviors, activities or intent. Marketing efforts that don’t map to an actual or potential customer are simply a waste of time and money. Today, advertisers have the ability to bridge the gap between their offline and online customer data so they can put the right message in front of the right person at just the right moment. But to get there, first they need the right onboarding solution.

Signal provides advertisers with an integrated, purpose-built onboarding platform for people-based marketing. Our technology can onboard one million audience records in less than 30 minutes and distribute data to DSPs and SSPs in less than a minute for immediate addressability and targeting. With one data taxonomy and no hand-offs between providers, Signal simplifies the onboarding process and clears roadblocks so consumer engagement can happen faster—and you can reach customers who are actively in market for your products. Signal offers persistent recognition at breakneck speed, where you retain full ownership and understanding of your customer relationships. Because in people-based marketing, timing is everything.

Originally published January 21, 2016

Kathy Menis

Kathy is an expert in technology marketing, with 20 years of experience creating and leading strategic, results-driven marketing programs. She was formerly the CMO at Signal.

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