[Webinar] Identity Resolution: Secrets to Success

Video Transcript +

Karen Burka: This is MarTech Today broadcasting live. I’m Karen Burka, your webinar producer. Thank you for joining us today for Identity Resolution: Secrets to Success. We are very pleased to welcome David Dague, Chief Marketing Officer at Infutor Data Solutions and Joe Doran, Executive Vice President and Chief Identity Officer at Signal.

Karen Burka: Now, before I turn the webinar over to our speakers, I have a few things I want to tell you. If you need some help or have a question for our speakers, just use the Q&A box, and we will do our best to help you. If you want to learn more about our sponsor, Infutor, or MarTech Today, there are some widgets at the bottom of your screen. Just click on them, and they will take you where you want to go.

Karen Burka: Remember, that you can customize your audience console to move or resize any windows that you have open. Now, we are going to hear a lot of great content today. I wanted to let you know we are recording this broadcast and we will make it available for viewing on demand this afternoon. I’ll send an email out when it’s ready. With that business taken care of, let me make a more formal introduction.

Karen Burka: David Dague is a 25-year veteran of the information services and analytics industry and brings significant expertise in cross-channel consumer identification, verification, and marketing solutions to the advertising, financial services, retail, telecommunications, and other industries. Joe Doran has 20 years of experience at companies including General Mills, Microsoft, and Rallyverse, across a range of sectors including marketing technology and SaaS, display and search advertising, consumer internet services, and consumer packaged goods.

Karen Burka: Remember audience, if you have questions for our industry experts as we go along, please make good use of that Q&A box. I’ll get to as many of those questions live after the formal presentations.

Karen Burka: I’m going to be moderating a round table discussion today with Dave and Joe all about identity resolution. We’re going to start off by letting them tell you a little bit more about themselves. Dave, you want to get us started by letting the audience know a little bit more about your experience and what Infutor does?

David Dague: Sure Karen. I appreciate that. Welcome everyone. Good afternoon or good morning depending on where you’re located. Yes, first I just want to talk a little bit about at the 50,000 foot level who Infutor is and what we do. We are a consumer identity management specialist firm. We provide heavily data-driven business-to-consumer solutions that enable brands to instantly know what they need to know about both customers and prospects, in order to make informed and profitable inbound and outbound marketing decisions.

David Dague: As for myself, Karen, you had mentioned 25 years. I think it’s probably well over 30 as indicated by the color of my hair in the photo. But yes, I have been in and around information services and analytics for quite a long time, most recently serving as CMO at Neustar and prior to that, Targus Info. So thank you.

Karen Burka: Joe, I’d like you to do the same for our audience today.

Joe Doran: Awesome. Welcome everybody. This is Joe. Glad to have you guys here as part of this webinar. Hopefully you guys will get a lot out of today’s conversation. As Karen said, I’m the Chief Identity Officer at Signal, really working with a lot of our customers and data partners and helping them to get the most out of the identity assets that they have within their company. I’ve been doing this in the marketing technology and ad technology space for over 20 years, and I’m very comfortable and pretty close to the challenges that marketers have been facing. We’re trying to really get to doing one-to-one marketing or doing people-based marketing.

Joe Doran: When you think about, and it’s one of the things that really drove me to come here and work at Signal, we are the leading SaaS provider of data onboarding and real-time identity resolution. Our technology platform really empowers people-based marketing in helping those marketers to enhance their customer experiences by providing relevance across all channels, regardless of place or time. When you think about that, it really comes down to us delivering CRM onboarding for our customers, onsite identity resolution of those anonymous users back to their CRM files, and then helping them really power their measurement and their attribution capabilities as they fit today. You’ll learn more about that as we continue on.

Karen Burka: Great. Thank you both. Audience, we’re going to dive right in to about a 40-minute fireside chat around different important topics regarding identity resolution.

Karen Burka: Clearly the first question to ask is what is identity resolution, and what does it mean for your company? Joe, I think we were going to start with you here in terms of what Signal does and what it means to our audience.

Joe Doran: Absolutely. I’ll kick us off, and it’s a question we get asked a lot—what is identity resolution? We always come back and just really say what we’re trying to do is actually resolve who that user is against whatever device that they’re using, back to where those customers have that first party data. And that starts with kind of that definition of identity. For us, identity is the connection point between all customer activity, online and offline, past and present, and it’s a comprehensive real catalog of information drawn directly from consumer interactions across touchpoints, which could be the web, mobile web, apps, physical stores, or other places that you may be able to capturing that level of data. Not only seeing those customer interactions, but being able to resolve those customer interactions back to people that you know or that you’ve collected a lot of information on.

Joe Doran: Brands today spend a lot of money, time and effort understanding the first party data that they capture. Being able to resolve and connect that data back to that first party data is a critical function that identity resolution helps in solving. When you think about how identity really unifies that offline and online information on an individual, it provides seamless cross-channel customer experiences that you can enable. It enables 360 degree views of customers so that you can have better intelligence and understanding of what your customers are actually doing on your site, and it really bridges the gap between the earned or owned media that they made, what the marketer may be doing, and paid media.

Joe Doran: Identity resolution has become one of the challenges that customers and marketers have today. They’ll have some of these touchpoints, but a lot of times customers are interacting either from an unknown laptop, device, or mobile phone, and they can’t resolve what that customer interaction is to somebody they have on the CRM file. That’s really at the end of it, that’s what we’re doing—helping those marketers scale and having that data that’s available to them. That’s what identity resolution is to us.

Joe Doran: One thing I would add before pushing off to David is that we do not have any personally identifiable information (PII) within our system. When we think about identity resolution, we think about anonymous data that’s de-identified and connecting a lot of those users to those devices. We work with a lot of customers that have offline PII-based data to make that connection between the PII offline world and the online world. So from that, I’m going to turn it over to David and let him talk about identity resolution.

David Dague: Sure. Thanks Joe. Yeah, and I think you’re absolutely right with your description of resolving the interactions across channels, and we’re going to be talking about that some more. Thanks for bringing up the PII and non-PII. We at Infutor actually kind of straddle both of those worlds with a very large identity graph of over 260 million adult consumers in United States. But, in terms of how we define identity resolution, we really define it as the process of de-anonymizing interactions with customers, whether they are customers or prospects, and verifying who those brands are interacting with.

David Dague: So why does that matter? Well, whether it’s a consumer filling out a web form, sending an email to a brand, or calling into a call center, it’s really important to de-anonymize engagements with these, with what we call hand-raising consumers for a few reasons, and they’re all aimed at maximizing conversion and ROI. One reason is all about personalization of course, and that’s the quest for every brand in the marketplace today, personalization of the consumer experience with your brand.

David Dague: Another is enabling relevant and compelling offers directed to the right person. And then a third is to understand whether the consumer is even qualified to purchase your product or service in the first place. You really can’t do any of that if you don’t know who you’re interacting with.

David Dague: A little more specifically, identity resolution is really about learning everything you possibly can about consumers in real-time, things like demographics and psychographics, segments and propensities to buy. Also, by delivering additional identity information such as full name, physical address, phone numbers, and email addresses. Folks have on average three email addresses in the United States, and all of that can be used for subsequent campaigns and engagements.

Karen Burka: Thanks Dave. How is it using identity resolution today? Is it geared towards enterprises, smaller companies, startups, more sophisticated marketers? Maybe you can help our audience sort that out.

David Dague: Sure. That’s a very good question, Karen. Frankly, we’ve got clients that are anywhere from startup brands, adtech, martech, major brands, financial services and lending institutions, really all the way to even lead generators. But for them it’s less about the size of the organization, it’s more about the types of products and services that they sell.

David Dague: Where identity resolution often helps the most is with enterprises that offer relatively high ticket items that are comparatively infrequently purchased. Why does that matter? Well, it matters because of the very real dynamic of information and data decay. One example could be with a cruise line. How often the consumers on average, except for your super aficionados, go on cruises? Not that often. But when they do go, they spend a lot of money.

David Dague: As an example, let’s say a cruise line has a customer who signs up for a singles-only cruise. They go on the cruise. It’s great. They had a good time. And the cruise line makes a lot of money. Of course, not everyone can go on a cruise every year. Time passes and the cruise line wants to re-engage with the customer. The problem is that since the customer took that singles cruise, she has gotten married, changed her name, and moved. So in short, her life and her needs have changed. Without identity resolution, the cruise line would know none of this.

David Dague: The fact is that identity data is changing all the time. In fact, about 30% of a given brand’s consumer data is incomplete or outdated at any given time, and that’s a big problem. People maintain, as mentioned, on average three emails that they tie to themselves. 36 million people change addresses each year, and a whopping 50 million people change their phone numbers. As importantly, consumers lives change, marriages, name changes, moves, starting families, and unfortunately, divorces. Meaning that their preferences based on their life stage are also going to change as well. Without a way to keep up with all of this, a brand runs a very real risk of not being able to reach customers at all, or worse yet, reaching customers with the wrong information and offers.

David Dague: A good identity resolution program mitigates these problems because the process is about ensuring complete, updated, current contact information and lifestyle preferences based on where they currently are in their life’s journey.

David Dague: Joe, do you have some thoughts on that?

Joe Doran: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with a lot of the things that you guys talked about and where those customers are. We definitely see customers that have high-ticket items actually having long purchase cycles against high value purchase items. They tend to have very good first party data. We definitely see that.

Joe Doran: But, when we think about our customers and about the customers that are using identity, we see customers that are large Fortune 500 marketers, all the way down to small startup DTC companies that are using identity because they know that marketing against the first party data that they have is the highest ROI vehicle that they actually have. Getting the customers that have already had interactions and that are already customers with them—increasing that lifetime value increases a return on investment for them.

Joe Doran: We have clients that have small ticket items that know that if they just get that customer to buy one more trip through the drive thru, one more game console game, one more pair of shoes—that adds to the lifetime value and adds significantly to their profitability and the return on their marketing spend that they actually have. Without identity, they really can’t market in a digital world to the customers that they know who are important to them.

Joe Doran: When we think about it, we have customers across every industry vertical. Just like what David talked about here, we have customers that are small and large, but their common challenge and problem is how do I make my marketing more effective, how do I make my marketing more personable, how do I make it really towards the people who I need to purchase with me again, and do it in a very controlled fashion?

David Dague: Yeah Joe, and I couldn’t agree more that it really all starts with first party data. We’ll be discussing that in more length in a few minutes.

Karen Burka: Great. Thank you both. We’re going to move on and talk about the role that identity resolution plays within a company. Dave, we’re going to go back to you on this.

David Dague: Sure, sure Karen. Thanks. We really think that there are four distinct functions where identity resolution positively impacts brands and clients. The first is all about scoring and verifying. When somebody fills out a web form, the first thing a client wants to immediately know is are they who they say they are? Is this a legitimate inquiry? I mean they give us the information, but is it accurate?

David Dague: Identity resolution provides a way for brands to know this on demand, which helps them separate the wheat from the chaff regarding inquiries. We’ll talk about that a little bit more. Second it’s about identity completion, it’s turning what is known as a fractional piece of information into a complete profile.

David Dague: Let’s say an important high-value customer visits a financial services brand online and then calls into its call center. Naturally, the customer expects you to know who he is and treat him like a VIP. However, in this case, the customer called in using his mobile phone. Again, that is an example of a fractional identifier. The brand only has this landline number on file. Yet another fractional identifier. As a result, the customer is essentially anonymous to this brand in the call center environment and as a result, it puts him through the old death by phone menu or an interactive voice response (IVR), which I would venture to guess everyone on this call has experienced before.

David Dague: On-demand identity resolution really solves this problem by linking all fractional identity records, including in this case the consumer’s landline and mobile phone numbers and delivering additional identifiers, such as an email address in effect to de-anonymizing the engagement in real-time, so the brand can treat the VIP customer, in fact, as a VIP.

David Dague: The third function is about the known willingness and ability for the customer to pay. It’s important to know that when a brand is engaged with a consumer and whether or not they’re likely to have the means purchase their product or service. For example, if a consumer responds to an offer on a solar panel brand, a high ticket item infrequently purchased, they want to immediately know if the consumer is financially qualified to buy those solar panels. Identity resolution addresses this need with real-time geo credit scores and other indicators like home value and wealth scores as well.

David Dague: Finally, it impacts brands with lead and inquiry prioritization. Somewhat on the cost efficiency side of the equation, identity resolution can save over 20% in operating costs for our clients by eliminating unqualified or even fraudulent inbound leads and inquiries. If you don’t know anything about the consumers you’re currently engaging with, then you’re trying to qualify every single inquiry, and that takes a lot of time, resources, and money. Identity resolution helps brands prioritize so they improve not only conversions, but save money by gaining operational efficiencies at the back end.

Karen Burka: Great. Thanks. Joe, I think your thoughts are here.

Joe Doran: Absolutely. I love the way that David really played out the challenge that brands have on the fractional identifiers, and without being able to really see across all the identifiers that that customer has, you can’t market to the VIP like you would want to.

Joe Doran: That same fractional identifier happens as brands and marketers try to build true, broad device graphs for all their customers and connected devices to CRM records, so that they can really do the things that are required. The challenge is the brand only gets a part of that consumer’s activity, and they need somebody like Signal or a provider like Infutor to fill in those gaps on partial identifiers or fractional identifiers, so they can truly resolve them. But, when they do resolve them, you can actually deliver a lot of additional value to that customer.

Joe Doran: One of the things that our marketers really look at and they try to do is marketing in the moment and really acting at the speed of their customers and how they’re buying. When you think about real-time onboarding, it enables real-time activation, real-time suppression, and real-time resolution. So, you actually know who that person is and you can deliver the message that you want to deliver to the target person when it is most impactful. Or, actually just being able to capture that information on that user when they’re taking a valuable action. Moving at the speed of the customer is a huge challenge for our customers, especially when you think about buying cycles.

Joe Doran: When we talk to our marketers and ask them when they see an interesting behavior, how long before that behavior or intent becomes something that leads the client or customer to make a purchase, or decide to go purchase your competitor’s product? A lot of times that’s between four hours to 48 hours.

Joe Doran: Being able to have a real-time system to resolve that action and then take an action to do activation or suppression has to happen in real-time or has to happen in near real-time. That way, you can actually take advantage of those actions. Or, if you’re using first generation onboarders, you’re really waiting five to seven days to kind of really get there.

Joe Doran: The other thing that our customers use identity resolution for is to reduce ad waste and actually drive more value and effectiveness of their ad spend. When you think about that, if I can’t resolve who is actually on my site or if I’m using a cookie-based retargeter and can’t connect that retargeter campaign or audience segment back to somebody who actually purchased on my website or through my mobile app and I can’t resolve that back to my CRM, then you’re going to have an unhappy customer who’s getting bombarded with retargeting ads now two, three, four weeks after they’ve actually purchased.

Joe Doran: Being able to resolve that customer and actually make sure that you’re efficiently delivering the right message to the right person, or suppressing the person who doesn’t need that additional ad, is going to reduce ad waste, and more importantly deliver a better brand experience.

Joe Doran: The last thing that we hear from marketers is about controlling their first party data. This is their first party data. They need to be able to take and manage their first party data. They need to be able to make sure that if it’s distributed to the rest of their technology stack or other technology partners, it’s done in a way that doesn’t allow data leakage and that it’s done in a privacy-compliant way. That’s really what identity resolution can enable—not only with the collection and resolution of those identities, but distributing it back to the places where the marketer already has those activities in place. That way they can actually do more with the technology and deliver it there.

David Dague: Yes, I couldn’t agree with you more, and certainly in your earlier comments, time is the enemy of today’s marketers and ad waste is a real challenge that our clients are facing as well.

Karen Burka: All right. Well, let’s move on to our next topic, which is identity resolution in real-time. Dave, I’m going to let you start us off talking about how it fits into the whole inbound and outbound marketing scenario.

David Dague: Sure. Absolutely. We like to look at the role of identity resolution and where it plays through the lens of a marketing process that Karen just alluded to. What are brand’s challenges with inbound engagements, outbound reach, and really in between engagements to Joe’s point at the first party CRM level? When you look at the slide here, it really does start on the left hand side with gaining a thorough understanding of your CRM data consisting of complete identity resolution and hygiene on your current customers, your first party customers, and a segmentation process to identify who your best customers are, and importantly, what media they consume. So, you know how to reach them via outbound means and you know what messages to deliver.

David Dague: Joe, I’m sure you have some thoughts to add there in the outbound world.

Joe Doran: Yep, absolutely. We work with partners like Infutor all the time on figuring out ingestion of the CRM data and actually bringing it to an anonymous state and allowing us to do the outbound activity. But, when we’re looking at the outbound activity, it’s really our customers demanding that the activation happen in real-time. My need is to go and take my first party data, create audiences, and deliver those audiences out to my activation points—being able to update those audience in real-time based on behaviors that are actually happening. So, if somebody actually put something in a shopping cart and I want to add somebody into an audience, I need to be able to do that in real-time. I need to be able to suppress them in real-time. All of that is really important because that makes sure that you’re controlling the message and marketing to the customer in the moment, reducing kind your ad waste or the slippage that may happen.

Joe Doran: Knowing those audiences and delivering them in real-time. A lot of marketers we work with will have multiple DSPs, they’ll want to distribute the same audience definitions back out to all their social endpoints, but they may need some level of orchestration with some of the offline activities that they have, such as direct mail. So, that first party, real-time conversation is important in pushing that out on the outbound.

David Dague: Absolutely. Absolutely true. It’s also important really when you look at this graph. At points of engagement, brands spend a lot of time and money understanding who the customers are, how they should message them, how they should reach them, and then (the holy grail of course), is in the stage of engagement—when a customer reaches out to engage with a brand. Very, very important to leverage on-demand inbound identity resolution using the same set of intelligence and criteria that was leveraged out of the CRM and outbound activation. To Joe’s point, it’s important to really carry that consistent and compelling message and engagements in real-time as customers raised their hands to contact you. That’s where the scoring, verification, and completion that we discussed earlier plays a very, very critical role.

Karen Burka: Certainly. We’ve talked a lot theoretically about how it can be used, but let’s talk for real about how companies are using identity resolution. Dave, I think we’re going to get to some use cases with you first.

David Dague: Sure, sure, absolutely. Again, I think I’ll touch on online first. I know Joe has a lot of value to add here. But, one use case that we are seeing more and more with our clients is about an initiative to greatly reduce the friction for a consumer that’s actually trying to engage with a brand online.

David Dague: What do I mean by that? We have a lot of clients that we work with that prior to introducing an identity resolution process, had form fields for lead inquiries with as many as six to eight or more fields that consumers had to fill out. They had a problem with form abandonment, a significant one. But, by using identity resolution, a couple of our current clients increased complete form submissions by a whopping 214% simply by reducing the number of required fields down to just name, phone number, or email. That’s it. Very low friction for consumers and very high payback for the client.

David Dague: In the offline environment, we talked a few minutes about the financial services example and how identity resolution works in a call center environment. But, there even is a point of sale in the retail and brick and mortar world. Again, a little bit of a use case. Say a consumer walks into a high-end retailer and is asked for the phone number or their email address at checkout. I’m sure we’ve all had that happen to us before. Remember, what they’re asking for are fractional identities.

David Dague: What happens in that environment is identity resolution delivers on-demand access to update and complete identities, attribute profiles and preferences. They also get customer verification and they enable the retail representative to engage with the customer at a much more personal and relevant level. That’s just another example of how offline works, just as well in online with identity resolutions.

David Dague: Joe, you have any thoughts to share there?

Joe Doran: Yeah, absolutely. I really love the form-fill use case. I think that’s awesome, and one of the things that we enable for all our customers, the ability to actually have that profile available to the customer in real-time at the page load, so they can capture a lot of those attributes that are needed. And, just like how you talked about, a lot of times there’s multiple vendors that may need that data accessible to them, either in the moment or delivered to them after an activity has actually happened, to bring that together.

Joe Doran: But, some of my favorite use cases that our customers really talk about have been around reactivating lapsed users. I have a customer that is in my CRM file and they’ve bought with me three years in row, but they haven’t bought in the last 12 months. How do I go and get them to come back into my fold? Suppression of known customers, so that I make sure that I’m only going to go and acquire new customers is another great use case. It’s really low-hanging fruit for a lot of our customers. Another thing would be just being able to resolve those anonymous site visitors at my digital touchpoints back to my CRM record, so that I can make sure I have a better view of the customer journey that’s really there.

Joe Doran: Those are some of my favorite use cases that marketers walk to us today. But one that really hits home, that really solidifies us in the real-time space, is thinking about real-time onboarding. We have a customer that has a loyalty program that if you go and purchase something, you’re given a loyalty rewards value that you have to use within the next two weeks. It’s a very perishable reward. It’s a very compelling program. But, a lot of times their customers let those dollars lay out and they let them expire, whether it’s just not top of mind or if they didn’t need that extra purchase. But, driving that secondary purchase based on this loyalty program is a huge ROI vehicle for marketers.

Joe Doran: And in the time of using the first-generation onboarders and activators, they do not move at the speed of the customer or the speed of what the programs are that the customer is buying. So, using our system, the ability to take the daily upload of who those customers are that qualify for that program, the audiences real-time after the activation points that the customer has and has seen, and delivering those campaigns has been a huge ROI vehicle and one of the top ROI events for this distinct marketer.

Joe Doran: Imagine a marketer that already has a very successful program, but they really can’t take advantage of the people-based marketing or their normal marketing communication channels because they’re not moving fast enough—they’re not getting real-time. This just unlocks value and top-line revenue for the customer, and this is how identity resolution helps customers and helps our brands make more money. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about, how do we help them make more money and take action against data that they already have and drive forward?

David Dague: Absolutely. I love the example of the lapsed users. That’s a great use case.

Karen Burka: All right. Well, I think in our excitement gentlemen we passed over another use case. Dave, I want to make sure you get a chance to tell our audience about this particular use case. There’s a lot of great examples here and a lot of different ways that identity resolution can help their businesses.

David Dague: Certainly. This is an example of how real-time identity scoring, along with resolution, enables efficient inquiry prioritization that we talked about as a critical factor for cost savings and conversion improvement. Again, we’ll go back to the financial services VIP example.

David Dague: The customer was calling in, as you might recall, from a mobile device. Using real-time identity scoring and resolution, the anonymous VIP was resolved to an identity and scored in this case as tier one, based on multiple criteria preset and put in place by the financial institution itself. In real-time that call comes in, the phone number resolves to a complete and scored identity for instant routing to a VIP agent. Again, not all customers are the same and they want to be treated as unique and special. In this case, our client is seeing conversion increases of over 15%, along with significant cost savings based on the practice of prioritization that we discussed earlier. Pretty compelling.

Karen Burka: Great. Let’s move on then because we have spent time talking about these use cases and the great ways that they help companies, but obviously there’s going to be some challenges and obstacles. Let’s talk a little bit, and we’ll start with Joe on this. Why doesn’t identity resolution always work and what are some of the roadblocks that come up organizationally?

Joe Doran: Absolutely. We run up against this a lot of times when marketers are trying to either go at it alone or they’re going with partners that may not be able to deliver all the value that the customer needs.

Joe Doran: First off, the challenge that a marketer is going to have is the data dependencies inside their own shop where they’re collecting data from multiple sources. They may have multiple brands. They may have multiple domains, multiple sites, multiple cookie IDs, or CRM systems that they’re actually using. The challenge that they’re going to have is that they can’t integrate or unify that data against a common identifier or a common record. If they don’t have a system or a partner that can help them go and build that identity graph, it becomes a significant challenge for them to even get started. A lot of times they may look at building it themselves, but may not be able to really stitch those identities together or find common match keys at scale, or they’re just going to be challenged by having solutions that are suboptimal and just won’t scale.

Joe Doran: Another big challenge is the perishability of the cookies or IDs that the customer has. Like it or not, as marketers try to build and scale their own first party data, their touchpoints with their customers are fragmented and dispersed. They may be lucky if they have a customer logging in or coming to the site every 30 days. More than likely, they’re only seeing a fragment of their purchasing or customer journey across how they’re exploring and engaging with that site. They may only come once every 90 days. And when they’re coming in once every 90 days, that cookie looks like a brand new cookie the next time it’s coming out there. So, the ability to go and stitch customer journeys over the lifetime of the customer is important. Not being able to resolve those customers, or trying to go at it alone without using an identity resolution partner like us or Infutor, becomes very difficult for those partners.

Joe Doran: There’s also the marketer who has to think very clearly about their choices on the technology stack. If they’re doing things internally or if the partners may be delivering identity services for them, a lot of times those partners may be restrictive with what they can do with the data. You may be able to put data in, but you may not be able to distribute the data back out to the partners that you care about. You need to be able to have partners that are working for you.

Joe Doran: You also have certain technology providers in the ecosystem that will be in the identity space. So, if you deliver data to them, that data may no longer just be yours. By just delivering them that data, there may be data leakage and some of that data may be put into a co-op where it’s shared with others, without you giving them explicit permissions on that. There’s a lot of challenges that a marketer has to think when they put that data within another provider or transport that data to another provider, especially in the identity space.

Joe Doran: The last thing that we see time and time again is a lot of people are on the variable cost model, where they just take a large chunk of the value out of the equation, and the marketer can’t make a fixed cost investment and really amortize that. This where we think of a SaaS model or a deliberate known pricing structure that lets you capture as much value as a marketer, on top of your flat fixed investment into the platform. This allows the marketer to really make as much money as they can on an identity platform, instead of making the marketer pay every time they use a platform. That’s one of the challenges—they try to really map it back to their own business needs or their own business challenges and what they’re trying to accomplish.

David Dague: Yeah, Joe, I think that all makes sense. In many ways I think my thoughts would mirror certainly the earlier part of your conversation around data dependencies. What we really see as with some of our larger clients in particular is the challenge for doing identity resolution when a large organization’s trying to do it in-house and information is, and everybody’s familiar with this, located in many different silos within the company.

David Dague:                As an example, they may have a customer record in their CRM that was updated five months ago, it’s already aging, and it may have some identifier information like maybe a phone number and an address. But, they also have a billing database, and that billing database may or may not have the same information to be able to tie to the CRM record. Additionally, they might also have a delivery database that’s separate from the CRM or billing database with still yet other information on the customer.

David Dague:                So, when you don’t have the university of information linked together and updated by a persistent identifier and multiple additional identity pieces of information, you do run the risk and expense of activating duplicate outreach to a customer who hasn’t gotten duplicate emails before, or you lose the ability to reach to them at all without having correct up-to-date identity information in place.

Karen Burka: Great. Thank you. Thank you both. This was a really great coverage of this topic. We’re coming into the homestretch here before we get to our audience questions. So, that brings up the question of how do you get started? What do you need to think about or have in place to leverage and take advantage of identity resolution? And once you are started, then what are the next steps to become more sophisticated at it? Dave, I’m going to start with you on that.

David Dague: Sure Karen, and thanks. Well, really the good thing about identity resolution is you can take it one step at a time. The way we typically engage with clients is starting by identifying their most acute point sounds obvious, but that’s true. It can be something really as simple as some of the things we’ve talked about, reducing form abandonment, or trying to save money on inbound lead prioritization. Or, improving CRM as Joe gave some thoughts on, really through deduplication and data linking processes.

David Dague: So, you can really start anywhere. Is your pain point all about improving inbound engagement or is it in between engagements with CRM to ensure a better customer experience? Or is it outbound, making sure you can confidently and in real-time activate outbound campaigns at scale on demand?

David Dague: Once you get that first pain point solved, you can evolve over time into much more sophisticated strategies and tactics that address the inbound, outbound, and in between engagements that we saw earlier. Joe, what are your thoughts there?

Joe Doran: Yep, absolutely. I totally agree. I think one of the first things we talk about with our marketers is what is your business challenge and what are you trying to do better or more of, or what are trying to stop doing? I think from that conversation, it’s very easy for us to follow on from there of like, “Okay, so this is where you are in your identity journey, and this is how you can get started.”

Joe Doran: For customers that just want to capture and take advantage and move to people-based marketing in the moment, it’s pretty easy. We can help them with taking those predefined audiences, activating them and delivering them out to those destinations and allow them to make more money and deliver that value.

Joe Doran: But, when we think about customers that want to go deeper and start building their own identity graph and having a device graph against all those CRM users, when you think about that broad set and journey that you’re going on, I think you should really think deeply about your partner and the partner set that you actually have against that.

Joe Doran: But, at the end of the day, it’s pretty easy to get started. Know what your business problem is. When you select the partners and the solution that you’re trying to solve for that partner, start testing those partners, do match tests. With us, we can go get you a match test done very, very quickly and have the results back very quickly. If you want to go and take a list of your CRM campaign of users that you have and you want to run an activation test or just run a quick activate on those customers and see what the performance is against your non people-based marketing, we can get that running going in real-time and have that up and running in days, not weeks, so that you can actually get the data to understand what is this going to impact you.

Joe Doran: The first thing I tell customers, if you’re not ready to go build your own device graph and identify graph for your own company and for your own brand, first thing you should do is just do a match test with the providers that you’re looking at, so you know where that first step is, and then start building your own first party identity graph. Those are things that we can all do for you.

David Dague: Totally agree Joe. We operate very similar fashion in terms of understanding a pain point, or at least a hypothesis of one, and doing actual data evaluations and giving feedback and recommendations based on a very small data set which is very fast and painless to do for a client.

Karen Burka: Great. Thank you both on that one. Audience, I have had my turn with our two expert speakers. Now it is your turn. We do have some time here for your questions. We’ve been getting quite a few in. I know that Joe and Dave have done a great job of presenting a lot of information to you and now getting you all thinking about your own business issues and problems around identity resolution. Let’s get to the first question here.

Karen Burka: Dave and Joe, I’m going to put the question up here in our live view, and I’m going to read it out loud, and then I’m just going to ask one of you to get started on it, and then clearly if you both have some thoughts and you can chime in. Dave, we’re going to start with you on this one. Can identity resolution play a role in attribution, which is a really important topic with so many omni-channel marketers out there, wondering where those sources of leads are.

David Dague: Indeed it is. As splintered as the world has become, yes, it’s really becoming quite critical. Interesting question to pose within the identity resolution topic. But, here’s what I would say from an Infutor perspective. While identity resolution doesn’t necessarily track attribution, the complete path to purchase from that perspective, it can add intelligence to the mix, no doubt about it. An example of that would be, well, let’s think about using identity completion.

David Dague: Let’s say a brand reaches out to a customer using a social media campaign, could be Facebook, Instagram, whatever. As we all know, the key identifier there to match and reach the consumer would be the customer’s email address that is on file on the social platform. You execute a campaign and reach the customer and engage with them and hey, the customer responds, raises their hands by going to your website and filling out a web form, but they use a different email address from the one on their social media account.

David Dague: With fully linked identity resolution records, the brand will know that the outreach using the social media email address that they used for targeting is also related to the same individual who used a different email address to respond. So as a result, they can attribute the social platform outreach to the actual customers’ response. That is an increasingly important role that identity resolution is playing in—attribution.

Karen Burka: Joe, anything you’d like to add?

Joe Doran: Absolutely. Being able to resolve kind of those known purchasers and being able to find out that those CRM records are the same record, just like what David said, is clearly a very important challenge that customers have when they’re doing the attribution analysis.

Joe Doran: One of the things that we see significantly as a challenge is the scale of data that actually flows back into the attribution provider with a common match key, so that you can really connect events that are associated across the own paid ecosystem that a customer is trying to drive that attribution event across.

Joe Doran: A lot of times, from the data dependencies we talked about before, I can only recognize a fraction of my on-site visitors. So, since I can only see 5% of my visitors that are logging on, that only gives me a fractional part of the data that I can put into my attribution model. I can only recognize a fractional amount of my paid media event. I need to be able to resolve that back to it.

Joe Doran: Without identity resolution, you can’t get the scale of events that fuel the attribution models so you can fully track the customer journey. That identity resolution has a common match key, whether it’s a CRM ID or hashed email that allows you to connect these disparate sources of data, whether it’s a site visit, a mobile app visit, an ad delivered in mobile web or an ad delivered in display or an ad delivered in app—how do you go and connect those things back? Not to mention, how do I capture the conversion event that actually happened and make sure that that conversion event is actually connected to the right person?

Joe Doran: Some of that requires some offline processing. Some of it may require online resolution against the other identifiers that are there. When we think about it, identity resolution really provides the ability to drive the connectivity between the data with the common match key back to the records that the customer has.

Karen Burka: All right, great. Let’s see if we can squeeze in a couple more questions here. We have a lot of questions from our audience and we’re going to get a little low on time.

Karen Burka: Dave, I’m going to come back to you on this. You mentioned high ticket item brands can benefit the most from identity resolution. But can high-volume, lower-cost retailers also benefit? That sort of went back to our topic around who can use identity resolution, and this attendee wants to know in particular.

David Dague: Yeah, it’s a very, very valid question. I think the short answer is absolutely. While these types of companies interact with consumers much more frequently, theoretically they’re going to get more signals from the consumer on changes in their identity information. And based on frequent purchase records, they’re going to have a better sense as to where they might be in their life’s journey. But, I think often they don’t necessarily have a full grasp of how to reach these consumers in an integrated way that we talked about across both offline and online channels with the highest scale and confidence.

David Dague: I would also say that they don’t always know how to de-anonymize inbound hand-raisers across those channels, be it be at point-of-sale, be at call center, be at web form or email.

Karen Burka: Great. Joe, any thoughts on that?

Joe Doran: Yep. Signal has lots of customers that have lower price points within their purchasers or within their customer set, so you can absolutely support a lower ticket price purchase. A lot of times, return on ad spend, your return on your ROI for that customer is a little bit more rigid because you don’t have as much profit to play with. So, you need to be more intelligent about that customer journey. You need to be more intelligent about how you’re marketing and driving that customer to drive another purchase. Identity really can help with the customer in that cycle.

Joe Doran: The thing that we would tell customers is that a lot of times with the high-ticket volume or with customers that are more engaged, like more deliberate purchase cycles—the data tends to be of maybe higher quality or a higher match rate. The thing we tell our customers is that depending on the level of engagement with your product or service and your data, it would be a question of the data quality that’s actually there. The thing I would tell you is that you should do a match test. The first thing you should do is do a match test with the providers to see if there’s actually enough scale to allow you to really capture some of these use cases on identity.

Joe Doran: One of the things I know that we’ll offer to any of our customers and anybody that’s on the webinar is a free match test. So, if you really want to go in and kick the tires and see where is your data is, and how would it lay up against Signal, where our match rates would be, and talk about those use cases, we’ll give you a free match test. Come and try us out. It’s the best way to think about it.

Karen Burka: Joe, would you just elaborate a little bit on what a match test is? We did have a couple of attendees ask about that.

Joe Doran: Absolutely. When we run match tests in an anonymized side of it, what we would do is a customer would basically give us a list, a common file or CSV of hashed emails. Their anonymized emails would be sent to us. When we run that match test, we’ll ask you a couple questions about it, such as, when we report back on this, we’re going to report on how many of those emails actually matched our deterministic network of emails within the Signal identity graph. We’ll also tell you, based on the DSPs or the activation endpoints, if you want to know the addressability at those places.

Joe Doran: If you’re doing something and shipping data to Trade Desk or DV360 (Google’s DSP), we can tell you of the million records we gave you that we had a 70% match rate against those emails, and we’ll tell you how many of those cookies against those profiles we matched that you can go bid against on DV360 or the Trade Desk. So, you really get a good sense of what we could do for you, or depending on your use case, if you need on-site identity resolution—we can do it. If the customer wants to start with PII, we can do that as well, which would be starting with name, address, postal data, things like that.

Karen Burka: Okay. Joe, I’m going to squeeze one more question in here just because we’ve had so many questions from attendees. This one was directed to you. How is identity resolution handled with site visitors B2B or B2C? Are MAIDs or other device data involved, email addresses? What about enterprise like IP address? That’s a little bit of a mouthful, but maybe you can try to answer that fairly quickly.

Joe Doran: Absolutely. I’ll try to keep it as broad as possible. When we think about site visitors, a common challenge that we have is that a lot of times those site visitors aren’t logged in. A lot of retailers, a lot of brands, they don’t want to put gates between the customer and the content, or the offers, or the products that are there—they don’t require any kind of authentication.

Joe Doran: So, how do I recognize that anonymous cookie back to my CRM data? What Signal is doing is when that site visitor comes to that web page, we can see if we actually see a linkage between that site visitor and somebody that actually exists in the CRM data set that the customer has. That linkage is really a deterministic link where we’ve seen that customer in an authenticated state or we’ve seen that customer in a registration state on that specific device in the past, and that’s an active link that we’re doing. What it really means is that I can link that site visitor’s traffic and event back to that CRM data that I actually have.

Joe Doran: One of the questions that you had in there was IP address. We don’t deal with any probabilistic modeling. People that go and connect people based on common IP address, we would state that’s not a deterministic identifier. It’s a probabilistic identifier. Knowing that you don’t really know who else is connected to that, so that we can absolutely help customers B2C, B2B with on-site identity resolution. If you have questions on that, I’m happy to do a test with you guys on on-site identity resolution and show you what we can do for you, because that’s the best way to figure it out. We’ll just go and do a test and tell you what type and how many of those customers we can actually resolve for you.

Joe Doran: We’ve had success from being able to increase resolution rates for our customers from 5% up to 20% of the visitors, to as high as 40-50% of those site visitors, which can be very meaningful for brands.

Karen Burka: Thanks Joe. And audience, you see here we’ve got the website addresses for all of our companies here today. Also, if you look on your audience console, there are email addresses for both Dave and Joe. They have both very graciously offered to work with attendees today. So, go ahead and send them some emails, and if you want to follow up on some of their offers to work with your companies.

Karen Burka: Unfortunately though, that is all the time we have for today for our webinar. I want to thank Dave and Joe for a very informative and timely presentation. I want to thank you audience for your great questions. We had a lot of them today, and there were a few that we did not get to. But, I don’t want you to worry. I’m going to pass them all along to our friends at Infutor for follow-up. In fact, I want to give a special thank you to Infutor for sponsoring our webinar today. As I said, you see both Infutor’s and Signal’s website addresses here, as well as MarTech Today’s website address. That’s all for our broadcast. We look forward to seeing you next time right here at MarTech Today.

Identity resolution is the essence of superior customer engagement. Brands must know who consumers are and how they’ve navigated the path to purchase in order to deliver the individualized, contextually relevant experiences they demand.

And that presents a significant challenge when a visitor to your brand’s site isn’t logged in.

“A lot of brands don’t want to put gates between the customer and the content, the offers or the products that are there, so they don’t require any kind of authentication,” said Signal Chief Identity Officer Joe Doran on the recent live webinar Identity Resolution: Secrets to Success. “So how do I recognize that anonymous cookie back to my CRM data?”

The answer: Continuous and real-time customer data onboarding, which works in concert with identity resolution to ensure a brand’s identity graph — the foundational data asset that ties back behavioral and historical data to actual people — is refreshed at the exact moment that new data enters its system.

Doran said that the Signal identity platform recognizes unauthenticated visitors across channels and maps unauthenticated device IDs to a persistent identifier. “We can see if there’s a linkage between that site visitor and somebody that actually exists in the CRM data set that the [brand] has,” Doran explained. “That linkage is a deterministic link where we’ve seen that customer in an authenticated state, or we’ve seen that customer in a registration state on that specific device in the past. We can link that site visitor’s traffic and event back to the CRM data.”

“Deterministic” is the key word here. “We don’t deal with any probabilistic modeling,” Doran added. “[Other platforms] connect people based on a common IP address, but that’s not a deterministic identifier; it’s a probabilistic identifier. You don’t really know who else is connected to that.”

Brands with the tools to instantly and accurately tie site traffic to person-based identifiers can:

  • Build more valuable, high-quality audiences.
  • Combine online and offline behavioral data to improve user authentication, detect fraud and generate product and content recommendations.
  • Connect onsite behavior to known customers to trigger personalized emails.

Not convinced? Doran encouraged webinar attendees (and, by extension, readers of this blog post) to trial Signal’s on-site identity resolution solution for free. “We’ll tell you how many customers we can resolve for you,” he said. “We’ve had success being able to increase resolution rates for our customers as high as 40 to 50 percent, which can be very meaningful for brands.”

Doran also called on marketers to test drive Signal’s data onboarding capabilities to determine how many of their brand’s customers they can engage one-on-one through the Signal network. The free trial offers firsthand insight into why the quality of onboarding match rates matters far more than the quantity of matches, as well as perspective on identity graph development.

Your customers will thank you for putting Signal to the test. “If I can’t resolve who is actually on my site, or if somebody purchased either on my website or through my mobile app and I can’t resolve it back to my CRM, I’m going to have an unhappy customer who’s getting bombarded with retargeting ads now two, three, four weeks after they’ve actually purchased,” Doran said. “Being able to resolve that customer and actually make sure that you’re efficiently delivering the right message to the right person, or suppressing the person who doesn’t need that additional ad, is going to reduce ad waste. But more importantly, it’s going to deliver a better brand experience.”

Originally published May 13, 2019

Joe Doran

A seasoned executive with 20 years of experience at companies including General Mills, Microsoft, Media6Degrees (now Dstillery) and Rallyverse, Joe is dedicated to creating technology solutions that make digital marketing more addressable, scalable and efficient. He was formerly Chief Identity Officer at Signal.

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