Identity Resolution in Advertising: Are Data Cocktails the Best Fix for Attribution?
By: Abner Miralda
Omnichannel marketing, multi-channel marketing, multi-platform marketing, integrated marketing…It’s starting to blend together isn’t it? As capitalism works its magic, more avenues and strategies to reach consumers become available, challenging marketers to find the perfect mix that delivers the best results. Enter identity resolution, the data-driven way to learn about individuals and what media mixes pushed them further down the consumer journey.
Data company Experian defines identity resolution as, “...an operational intelligence process, typically powered by an identity resolution engine whereby businesses can connect separate data sources with a view to make possible identity matches and non-obvious relationships across multiple databases.”
Let’s break down the industry jargon. Almost every data company’s definition of identity resolution means that an automated process aggregates multiple data points from multiple devices and sources to gain insight of preferences, behaviors, and actions taken by an individual. They then build a profile for said individual like a tag, hash, or user ID, and store it centrally for any business need.
In the case of advertising, that need is attribution. Because identity resolution ties all data, including advertising data, to a centrally located profile, its aim is to model the consumer journey, and prove which channels created the most sales.
Why didn’t they just say that to begin with?
Here’s how the Identity Resolution system would look like in action:
Company X is a furniture company and serves an ad to user 123 via cookie Z because that user displays the online behavior of the perfect candidate to buy new furniture: a millennial woman, who recently earned a high-paying job in a new city.
A month later, a woman named Jane decides to buy a couch at a store. She pays with her credit card, gives her home address for delivery and heads off happy with her purchase. Let’s say the CRM of Company X is tied to Company R, which ties sales records to Company Y’s database via ID, and it turns out Jane is user 123 and was served an ad last month via cookie Z. That’s the full attribution picture with identity resolution.
It’s complex, it has many moving parts, but when laid out cleanly and clearly, it’s frankly a thing of beauty. However, with multiple sources, formats, and quality issues, identity resolution’s complexity means many things can go wrong, and in practice, they do, making the actual picture fuzzy.
But what if there’s a better way?
Simplifying Identity Resolution with one-to-one targeting and MatchBack Analyis
One of the cannons in the digital advertising industry is cookie-based segmentation, which is anonymous by nature. If you want to learn more about cookies and their drawbacks, check out another one of our blog posts. Identity resolution tools are being used to resolve identities-- retroactively identify who is being targeted and then track every step of the sales funnel, tying together online and offline data for a complete picture.
Instead of cookies, El Toro uses deterministic data to map IP addresses back to home records. This method allows advertisers to have a concrete sales funnel from the very beginning of the digital campaign, meaning identity resolution software isn’t relied on to figure out who is an actual sales lead. El Toro advertisers choose their targets by mailing record or IP, and El Toro serves digital ads to those mailing records.
At the end of a one-to-one campaign via El Toro or direct mail, a full attribution report can be pulled via MatchBack Analysis-- Jane Doe was sent a direct mail piece and targeted with El Toro. She bought a couch. This process can be scaled out and tested extensively with different media mixes. The best part is that every prospect can be accounted for every step of the way by mailing record.
No-nonsense approaches like El Toro’s MatchBack Analysis keep data proprietary, and give a clear picture for true sales performance. As an added benefit, identity resolution engines can be tapped to glean more information along the sales funnel.
So the question remains: as the advertising industry becomes more data driven, why not use tools that allow you to use and control your own data? With El Toro, you won’t rely on outside data cocktails to know if it worked.