Identity Graphs Demystified

How a Marketer Should Evaluate Identity Graph Solutions

With the emergence of people-based marketing, an identity graph is the foundation required to recognize people across channels and devices at every step of the customer journey to deliver true 1:1 marketing at scale. People-based marketing empowers brands to see their customers as people, rather than pixels. It helps marketers to recognize people across devices and channels at every step of the journey to deliver true 1:1 interactions and right-now relevance via the web, mobile apps, display ads, email, point of sale, and more. But what exactly is an identity graph and what should marketers prioritize when evaluating a vendor?

What is an identity graph?

An identity graph, or ID graph, is a collection of known customer identifiers that can be associated with one another. Brands may have their own ID graph, or they may tap into ID graphs that have been assembled by social networks, advertising networks or onboarding providers.

A single consumer has a number of identifiers—a work email address, a personal email address, a physical address, IP addresses at home and work, a mobile phone number, device identifiers from phones and computers, account usernames, an array of brand loyalty numbers, and an ever-changing number of cookies picked up in browsers. In each interaction a brand has with a consumer, one or more of these identifiers are present.

An identity graph is the foundation for creating customer-level, cross-channel profiles, linking the individual customer to the bits of data used to uniquely identify her across channels and devices, which are then linked to offline CRM data and live online behaviors.

How to Build an Identity Graph

To optimally engage with customers, marketers need to capture all of these identifiers and associated attributes, connect them to build comprehensive profiles and leverage them to knowingly reach a person with relevant messaging.

With Signal’s platform, marketers can easily collect first-party data and identifiers from all customer engagement environments—both online and offline—and stitch them together to create comprehensive customer profiles.

How to evaluate your identity graph options

Match rate accuracy is a frequent measuring stick used in comparing ID graph vendors. These outcomes vary greatly from brand to brand, depending on factors such as customer log-in rates. But there are actually other, more important criteria that are often overlooked, and which will have a more significant impact on the value the marketer derives from an ID graph. Compare in-market solutions on benchmarks such as speed, persistence, neutrality and scale. Ask vendors these important questions to get the best targeting, measurement and personalization outcomes.

Five Questions to Ask Your ID Graph Vendor

1. Does the ID graph provide persistent identity?

Real people-based marketing requires always-on recognition. Marketers need to identify their customers and the digital signals they’re sending in real time, all the time. They must be able to react instantly at any touchpoint. This isn’t possible if your consumer profiles are tied to decaying, third-party cookies, or if you are addressing identity as a “one-off” issue on a campaign-by-campaign basis.

Signal’s ID Graph isn’t dependent on cookies that expire or can be deleted. Instead, Signal uses persistent, cloud-based identifiers that are server-based, creating a permanent and stable profile that is always on and ready for activation. Over time, these persistent profiles get richer and deeper with each consumer interaction and are available to be leveraged for lifetime of targeting.

2. Does the identity platform power real-time speed?

Engaging the customer with the right message at the right time in the right place is only possible if marketers have real-time technology for collecting, matching and activating data within minutes. Without this capability, marketers lose the opportunity for engagement at a critical point in the customer journey because they can’t recognize their customers and respond quickly to live, intent signals that a customer is “in market.”

The Signal ID Graph helps marketers keep pace with today’s hyperconnected consumer through the following metrics:
• 50 milliseconds for cross-channel data collection, matching and distribution to any vendor endpoints including DSPs, SSPs, etc
• 1 million offline CRM records imported online and matched to digital identity data in less than 30 minutes

3. Is the ID graph open and neutral?

Understanding how customers interact with a brand across all touch points is essential for accurate marketing measurement and optimization. Walled gardens such as Facebook and Google have the technology and huge scale to help marketers find their customers across devices, but they don’t share back the matched data sets or user-level campaign data and insights that will help you know your customer better.

Signal’s neutral, open identity platform is compatible with all the technologies you use on a daily basis to engage your customers – this includes your network of toolsets, vendors, publishers, co-op advertisers and other trusted partners. With Signal, you always own and control all your data. Signal gives you flexibility to work with any partner across the ecosystem without limiting your options.

4. Does the ID graph provide accurate scale?

A deterministic approach has the distinct advantage of providing highly accurate identification. It’s the gold standard – it’s the difference between knowing and guessing. But because consumers rarely log in to the majority of sites they visit, lack of scale has been the downside. Deterministic identity requires more volume than any single brand or publisher – aside from the very largest Internet companies – can muster on its own to reliably identify users.

With Signal, marketers can reap the benefits of deterministic matching at scale through a cooperative identity network of trusted partners. This approach overcomes the limitation of scale by giving members access to the aggregate reach of a large, collaborative network, and allowing the full accuracy of deterministic matching to be realized at highly reliable scale. This empowers marketers to achieve people-based marketing at scale across channels and in full alignment with consumer privacy protections.

5. Who owns and controls the ID graph?

An ID graph is a strategic asset that should be owned and controlled by your brand. When the brand owns the ID graph, marketers get a full view of the customer journey. Every customer interaction on any device or channel and in any campaign can be used to close the attribution loop and to build deep, rich profiles.

With Signal, ownership of the ID graph resides “inside” the brand rather than “outside” of it with a vendor or walled garden. With Signal, your ID graph can be used continuously to connect the dots among all your customer touchpoints, and with all the marketing and ad tech partners in your ecosystem.

Why Build an Identity Graph With Signal?

  • Control of customer identity rather than rented campaign-by -campaign through third-party media and technology vendors. Data and identity are never lost when partners change.
  • Profiles are grounded in a durable universal ID, so they don’t expire as fragile cookies are deleted.
  • Maximized precision with entirely deterministic connections from only first-party data.
  • Recognition and matching are always-on, so marketers can build the freshest profiles that increase in value as more data is added
How Signal Identity Graphs Work