Identity is the New Currency

“Right message, right time, right now.” In my 25 years in marketing, that’s been the Holy Grail. The problem today is that it is almost impossible for brand marketers to get it right. Their customers are hyper-connected, yet the ability to identify those customers as they move from desktop web to mobile to email fades rapidly.

At Signal, we believe that identity is the new currency. In today’s multi-device world, cross-channel identity is the great make-or-break requirement for marketing success. If a brand knows its customers—really knows them, through unified, actionable customer profiles—the possibilities for effective marketing now and tomorrow are limitless. But if a brand loses control of its customer identity to big third parties, it limits its prospects for owning the future.

By “identity,” I mean the ability to connect cross-channel data for a unified view of the customer. Data—from all devices and channels, online and offline—provides the building blocks of identity.

Marketers put a ton of effort and investment into what they do: acquiring customers, crafting and executing campaigns, buying media, sending timely messages to consumers. When it comes to identity, though, marketers commonly outsource that function to giants like Google and Facebook who use their clicks, Likes, or +1 buttons to get a clear view of a brand’s consumers across multiple touchpoints. But if marketers aren’t careful, they’ll soon realize they’ve lost command of their data and their own customers—just as they find themselves losing leverage in ad pricing, now they could find their audience has been consolidated out of their hands.

It’s a pivotal moment for brands in mapping their future, and bringing their marketing ecosystems into balance. While it’s almost impossible today to avoid working with huge third-party identity solutions, it’s critical for brands to draw a line between what happens on the assets they control, versus what happens in the “wild.”

Brands must own and control their first-party identity just like they have to protect their first-party data. It’s the keys to the kingdom in understanding the customer journey because it’s where that journey begins and ends.

If brands want to maximize the value of their data, marketers need a cross-channel identity solution that they own. That’s the gap in the market, and that’s the crucial role that Signal fulfills for our clients. Not only does our Unified Customer View solution help you unlock the coveted single view of your customer—it keeps you in control of your first-party identity and data. And you can bring it wherever tomorrow takes you.

It’s time that marketers treat identity as the valuable currency that it is. Brands can’t afford to give away their identity to partners who don’t give them much in return.

Truly knowing your customers is the marketing challenge of our time. Brands that understand the value of their data will be ready and empowered to create the personal experiences their customers desire and expect—now and in the future.

Originally published February 25, 2015

Mike Sands

Mike Sands is a co-founder of Signal. Prior to joining Signal, Mike was part of the original Orbitz management team and held the positions of CMO and COO. Mike also has held management roles at General Motors Corporation and Leo Burnett. His work at General Motors led him to be named a “Marketer of the Next Generation” by Brandweek magazine. Mike holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Northwestern University and a Masters in Management degree from the J.L. Kellogg School of Management.

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