Many agency execs acknowledge that it won’t be their knocking on the door that lowers the gates of walled gardens. Instead it will likely be rivals “nipping at their heels,” as Merkle CSO John Lee put it last year.
Non-walled garden digital denizens are trying to rival Facebook’s deterministic identity targeting with probabilistic methods, according to Drawbridge founder and CEO Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, who also spoke Thursday at Industry Preview.
These methods include looping in third-party data from increasingly diverse channels, such as retail, connected devices and TV networks.
“Even the walled gardens don’t have a perfect understanding of identity across screens and channels,” Sivaramakrishnan said. “We implore this industry to not think of it as taking a chance on identity, but developing algorithms that are accurate enough and viable enough as a solution.”
There may be more similarities than either side chooses to admit. The best cross-device identity triangulation being developed by firms outside “privacy gardens” is also a kind of “black box, but with very clear outputs,” Sivaramakrishnan said.
As probabilistic matching turns into a black box by the nature of its complication, Facebook is in overdrive trying to find ways to communicate insights back to agencies, such as its recent road show promoting Facebook IQ, a consumer research unit.
Google, meanwhile, made waves last year when it debuted email and user targeting based on a brand’s first-party CRM data. Google’s struggle to rationalize marketers’ needs with privacy concerns shows how delicate the maneuvering must be, even when the platform wants to open up to clients. Google also had to create new restrictions on what data could or could not be deployed, plus an alert and education program to update Gmail users on the new policy.
Walled gardens are so called because of marketer aggravation (or envy, even) about being left outside the walls. But it’s easy to forget about the “garden” part of the phrase, which is the overarching effort to create an environment people want to return to.
“For us, the area of focus for 2016 will be providing better measurement for events on our platform,” Dallaire said.
Whether it’s users or advertisers who reap the benefit remains to be seen.