Why Marketers Struggle To Link Online And Offline Customer Data

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mind-the-cliffAlthough advances in universal logins and the growing sophistication of marketing stacks give marketers a more complete picture of their customers, several challenges still prevent advertisers from sending consistent cross-channel messages.

The largest issues revolve around questions about the match rate of data points and data accuracy, said Alex Andreyev, director of omnichannel marketing at Neo@Ogilvy.

“Right now match rates are a mixed bag — we’ve seen it range from 20% to 80%,” he said. “And even if you have a high match rate, there are still questions about data confidence. How confident are you that the data you have is accurate?”

Several vendors offer solutions that combine email addresses with other data points to track consumers from brick-and-mortar stores to their digital devices. Facebook recently unveiled a feature within Custom Audiences that links offline sales with people’s Facebook activities by cross-referencing email addresses, phone numbers and home addresses with encrypted transactional data.

And CRM giant Oracle’s expected acquisition of cross-channel marketing tech company Responsys potentially gives the former significant email marketing capabilities.

In September, database services provider Acxiom launched its Audience Operating System, which is designed to tie data sources for cross-channel and cross-device ad targeting. Other companies are focusing on linking a consumer’s physical location with their mobile activities, such as Apple via its iBeacon technology.

But Andreyev sees numerous problems with these methods.

“Many people have different email addresses for different purposes for instance and it’s becoming more common for people to leave out information on their Facebook profiles and other accounts,” he explained. “Also, universal logins are great, but they lack scale and they’re less useful if we’re not able to match the login’s information to anything in a client’s CRM database.”

Internal data silos continue to be another large problem, said Forrester Research analyst James McCormick.

“There are marketing teams, CRM teams, analytics teams and others that all deal with customer data but they represent different channels and aren’t linked together," he said. "We’ve been talking about this problem for years, but it’s still there.”

Auren Hoffman, CEO of LiveRamp, a company that offers a “data onboarding” software system that is designed to match offline customer data points with a company’s online marketing efforts, agreed with McCormick.

“Marketers are investing a lot of money in DMPs, DSPs, site analytics and other applications and sometimes an application might have access to less than 10% of the company’s data,” Hoffman said. “We can help marketers make better use of their data, but ours and other applications are most useful when the marketer has access to as much data as possible."

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