"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Nancy Marzouk, CEO at MediaWallah.
When you have a big, ugly end date staring you in the face, it makes sense to focus on it. And that’s what brands did for the past two years, building against Google’s planned cookie deprecation, which would directly affect campaign targeting and attribution.
Now that Google has given brands a two-year extension (at least) on the planned deprecation date, the tunnel vision that took over much of our industry’s data conversations is fading away, and brands can take a more thoughtful approach to prepare for the entire future of data, identity and addressability.
Smart brands will create an addressability strategy that creates a truly 360-degree view of the customer that can inform a host of marketing and advertising activities – and even help with measurement and attribution.
Until now, many brands have been on the hunt for a customer data platform (CDP) that can house their data as a one-size-fits-all replacement to third-party cookie loss. But there’s more to a successful addressability strategy than what a CDP can offer, especially when it comes to data quality.
CDP is one piece of the puzzle
I always raise my eyebrows when I hear of a brand that’s on the hunt for a CDP in order to solve their first-party data needs for programmatic advertising. A CDP was originally designed to sit behind a marketing automation or personalization platform. The platform is valuable tech infrastructure that manages audiences built from first- and second-party data, and it ports that data to publishers for activation.
But in order for it to work successfully, brands need additional capabilities that are not always available in a CDP, as the CDP can’t guarantee data quality.
To be successful, brands need to build audiences off of an accurate 360-degree customer profile. Inaccurate data isn’t the only issue to contend with; incomplete information is just as important. One avenue to creating a more complete picture with data is identity resolution – which is not a CDP core competency – to fix bad data through data correction, data merging and data enrichment.
Data Correction. In order to create viable audiences in your CDP, you need to start with a data set that is true. As they say: garbage in, garbage out. Identity resolution can help verify consented data, corroborating and validating it against truth sets to ensure all data is accurate and addressable.
Data merging brings together data about a single customer that was previously housed separately. Imagine a brand with two CRMs, one of which contains a hashed email firstname.lastname@example.org, and another has email@example.com – both of which are the address of the same customer. Once those emails get loaded separately into the CDP, the system has no way to know that these emails actually represent one person. Identity resolution can help identify data as belonging to a single customer, merging multiple identifiers into one complete customer profile.
Data enrichment brings in other consented data to append information brands may not already have, but which is crucial for matching audiences against other first-party audiences for activation. Identity resolution can capture data (if consented) from elsewhere and enrich/append it to the existing customer profile, thus increasing match rates in the process.
The ongoing necessary processes of data merging, enrichment and correction are functions of identity resolution. Companies looking to CDPs to solve all their problems in a first-party world are essentially setting up data infrastructure without considering the quality of the data itself.
Building for identity
The question marketers need to ask isn’t “What CDP do I need?” – it’s “How can I make sure the data we have are complete?”
The process of piecing together addressability reminds me of 10 years ago when brands were grappling with the DMP/DSP technology stack. Some offerings combined the capabilities, reducing transparency and flexibility but increasing convenience. Others specialized in one capability, encouraging a more agile, flexible solution that would require a bit more development work up front.
As brands now migrate away from the DMP toward a CDP, they need to essentially do the same exercises over again, just at a larger, more complex scale.
Ultimately, only the brand team can determine the right approach, and the choices are numerous. Asking each potential CDP partner how their technology can work together with the rest of the ecosystem and what it requires in order to manage, merge and ultimately activate data will help ensure that brands get what they pay for.