DMA Wants To Help Demystify Identity With Cross-Industry Council

Marketers know they need to wise up on cross-channel identity and attribution technology. But it’s hard to know how to approach the vendor landscape when it feels like the entire LUMAscape is blowing up your inbox every morning.

“’Barbarians at the gate’ is an apt analogy – sometimes, that’s how it feels,” said Simon Shulman, director of marketing analytics and technology at TD Ameritrade. “I probably erase 10 emails from vendors every day.”

To help assuage that daily headache, the Data & Marketing Association is forming the Identity Council to help marketers better vet their technology partners and get up to speed on cross-device attribution. The council will create education materials and foster more open discussion between advertisers, sell-side players and tech providers.

The council, announced Wednesday, comprises 15 companies, including TD Ameritrade, Zenith digital agency Moxie, Publishers Clearing House, MediaMath, Oracle Data Cloud, Acxiom and Experian.

The group held its first all-hands-on-deck meeting in early May to get acquainted and set goals.

Smaller groups will now splinter off. One will develop an identity-vendor assessment toolkit, quite similar in scope to the cross-device RFI project spearheaded by the DMA last September. Another group will create an education portal with videos, case studies and other easy-to-digest data on identity, measurement and cross-device attribution. Both are slated for Q3 release.

But the first step is fostering better dialogue between stakeholders with varying points of view, said DMA CEO Tom Benton. Reducing friction, he said, lifts all boats.

“We have seen that internal silos impede an organization’s ability to be data-centric and deliver customer experiences informed by data,” he said. “External silos and sales pressure make it difficult to have honest conversations and lead to buyer confusion.”

Confusion and inundation. If the ad tech ecosystem is an overpopulated cocktail party, vendors are the attendees and marketers are the very last canapé on the tray.

“All of our clients know that identity is a critical path for them, but there’s so much confusing terminology, so many players and not a lot of understanding about which methodology will work best for their goals or how to deploy the technology to get the business value they’re looking for,” said Tracy YoungLincoln, EVP of intelligence at Moxie.

Even the most discerning, well-informed marketers need to make a concerted effort to keep pace.

“One of the things marketers need to be at peace with to be successful is the realization that what you know today may be irrelevant by tomorrow,” Shulman said. “Your current level of knowledge, whatever it may be, has a very short expiration date, and there’s a constant requirement to learn more about what’s out there.”

What’s out there, however, are also walled gardens with ramparts up to here and a decided disinclination to share information, which makes them, for better or worse, the primary keepers of identity data. Neither Facebook nor Google is participating in the council.

Pressure from the buy side and other industry players, however, is starting to lower the walls, as are more open lines of communication.

“We’re all getting a little more savvy about the space,” YoungLincoln said. “The walls won’t necessarily go down, but we’ll keep pushing this idea that we want to own the relationship, even if it’s through their platforms.”

The fact is, despite their scale, Google and Facebook don’t own the internet. People spend a heck of a lot of time on Facebook, but they also spend a heck of a lot of time doing other things, which are necessary to establish cross-channel identity.

“You can resolve for identity on Google inventory and within Facebook’s walled garden,” said TD Ameritrade’s Shulman. “But if we’re trying to solve for identity and actually provide one-to-one marketing, which is any modern marketer’s nirvana, we need to work with different providers across all of the sources of navigation for online consumers.”

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