IdentityOctober 10, 2017

Identity tech 101

Learn about the different kinds of identity tech, designed to help you understand and track behavior across the customer journey.

The demand for increasingly personalized customer experiences has driven marketers to seek new ways to better understand and track behavior across the customer journey.

The rise of identity tech

But even for the most sophisticated of marketers, the identity tech space can be confusing. There are numerous solutions offering tons of capabilities with similar names. And to further complicate the landscape, many established solutions have evolved from point solutions to all-encompassing suites that attempt to solve a number of identity and non-identity related challenges.

Despite all the noise, identity tech solutions ultimately address four key identity challenges to help marketers drive better customer experiences.

Cross-device identity

Cross-device identities are created by tracking the activities of an individual customer with an unknown identity across different devices. Also known as ID graph solutions, these products use a mix of deterministic and probabilistic tracking to connect devices to a single consumer. Deterministic approaches include mapping an email address used to login across multiple devices and are typically more accurate than probabilistic matching which leverages data points such as location, wifi network, OS, device type, and behavioral/browsing data to assess the likelihood of a unique user across devices.

By focusing on resolving individual consumers instead of individual devices, cross-device identity enables marketers to improve personalization and product experiences across a customer’s entire lifecycle even as they navigate across their phone, tablet, or laptop.

Example solutions: Drawbridge, Tapad, Adobe Device Co-op, Salesforce DMP (Krux Identity)

Identity onboarding and authentication

This category of solutions seeks to 1) link online and offline behavior through onboarding or 2) connect ID graphs with verified real people through authentication. Both onboarding and authentication leverage personally identifiable information (PII) like name, address, phone number, and email to connect online and offline activity. 

With onboarding solutions, marketers are able to determine how online marketing efforts affect offline behavior such as in-store purchases. Additionally, since authentication can validate real-world identity, marketers have broader access to third-party enrichment sources that can provide demographic, income, credit, purchase, and ownership history. Combining onboarding and authentication with an organization’s first-party data can give marketers an extremely robust data set from which to drive segmentation and targeting.

Because both onboarding and authentication heavily leverage PII, these solutions must navigate tighter regulatory requirements and support enterprise privacy and data governance processes to ensure legal compliance.

Example solutions: Neustar, Acxiom (Liveramp), Experian, Merkle, Gigya

Location targeting

Rather than attempting to track individual customers, location targeting solutions track devices and their location using a unique ID (AAID, IDFA, cookies) and location markers (IP address, mobile device location). Identifying which devices are driving specific activities enables organized data collection and provides a high-level understanding of how customers may interact with a single channel. By combining this with location data, location targeting solutions can identify households and businesses on desktop or build location-based segments, such as frequent moviegoers on mobile. Simply identifying devices is not enough to gain a granular understanding of multi-screen interactions across mobile, tablet, and desktop, however.

Example solutions: Factual, Foursquare, Reveal, Radar, Semcasting, Skydeo

Identity governance

Maintaining consumer trust is critical to creating product experiences that delight. As identity tech solutions become increasingly complex in their approaches to matching IDs across devices and across online and offline experiences, the challenge becomes enabling seamless product experiences while honoring privacy commitments and expectations. To be compliant with privacy standards, marketers must accurately account for opt-outs, user’s privacy preferences, corporate policies as well as local, national, and regional regulations. All of this must be done in a clear, easily accessible way that has minimal impact on the end-user experience.

Identity governance solutions manage customer identity and access rights across an organization’s systems. Advanced solutions aggregate and correlate identity with granular controls that allow companies to set rules for when data is accessed and merged, or isolated and segmented. This puts marketers in complete control of how identity resolution logic for location, cross-device, and onboarding and authentication solutions are deployed.

Example solutions: mParticle IDSync, Sailpoint, IBM Identity Management, Oracle Identity Governance, CA Identity Manager

In conclusion

Identity tech has rapidly become an integral part of the marketing stack for brands looking to reach customers with personalized, efficient campaigns. The proliferation of identity tech, however, has made it difficult for marketers to navigate the space and find the right solution. Often, Identity tech is able to address one or two of the four main identity solution challenges faced by brands.

mParticle’s IDSync was purpose-built to address the challenges facing brands as they try to unify customer identities to create customer experiences that delight. IDSync puts brands in control of defining context- and company-specific identity resolution logic and is independent of platform, provider, or use case. IDSync is now in active beta. For more information, contact us!

AuthorPatrick Crosby
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