Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Who's Who: Cross-Platform Customer Identification

Customers want [and expect] relevant ads but want control over their data1 but how do we identify those customers and their preferences across multiple platforms?

Currently most industries are only using the two most common methods, PII (Personal Identifiable Information) and cookies.2   PII such as site authentication while highly accurate only applies to a fraction of site traffic – the authenticator must have an account and must be “logged in” to that account.  Cookies are device specific text files created by a site with data regarding that specific device and session, these files can be read by other web sites and are therefore able to provide data.

But what happens when we use more than one device and don't sign in all of them?

Device Usage
Courtesy of http://blog.limelight.com/2013/02/how-are-you-adapting-your-marketing-to-mobile/ 3
With the introduction of so many different devices a person may

  1. Read an email about a product on their phone on their way to work 
  2. On their work computer they begin researching the product using two different browsers
  3. At home they show their significant other on their tablet
  4. Finally before going to bed place the order on their personal desktop

From the business’s reference point they received a number of unique visits and a purchase with no prior browsing history.   

This scenario or something like it is common but how can this company connect the dots and deliver relevant content without knowing anything about the customer? 

This type of customer Forrester Research calls a PCC (Perpetually Connected Consumer).  In the US, by the end of 2012, 42% of online adults met the Forrester definition of PCCs, up from 38% in late 2011.  Globally, Forrester predicts that by the end of 2013, close to half of online adults will be perpetually connected.4

The way to identify this growing type of customer isn’t always clear for each business especially when considering a respective business’s current status on customer identification but one thing is for certain, a business will need more data, lots more. 

One suggested method is getting a DMP or data management platform.  Jack Marshall from Digday describes it as a data warehouse used for storing and analyzing information specifically pertaining to marketing.5 

Whether you build or buy you will be faced with the same concerns
  • Cost of implementation and data collection
  • Scalability
  • Privacy infringement 
Of those concerns arguable the most important is that of privacy, according to Visioncritcal.com privacy and big data are on a collision course. 6 While cost and system scalability can worked on internally how customers' data is used will be a reflection on the company. 


1 Online Users Say They Want More Relevant Ads, But With Privacy Controls Attached. (2013, November 8). http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/online/online-users-say-they-want-more-relevant-ads-but-with-privacy-controls-attached-38009/
2 3 in 10 Retailers Unable to Identify Customers at the POS. (2012, February 2).  http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/direct/3-in-10-retailers-unable-to-identify-customers-at-the-pos-20948/
3 http://blog.limelight.com/2013/02/how-are-you-adapting-your-marketing-to-mobile/
4 O’Connell et al. (2013, August). Solving The Cross-Platform Targeting Riddle. http://acxiom.com/solving-cross-platform-targeting-riddle/
5 Marshall J. (2014, January 15). WTF is a data management platform?. http://digiday.com/platforms/what-is-a-dmp-data-management-platform/
6 Grenville A. (2013, December 4). Privacy and big data on a collision course. http://www.visioncritical.com/blog/big-data-collection-and-privacy-concerns