The advertising ecosystem has been upended and continues to shift, thanks in part to Google’s plans to deprecate third-party cookies, along with Apple’s restriction of access to their mobile ID. Both moves impact the adtech sector and the ability to connect the digital and offline worlds. Marketers thus have their work cut out for them and many feel overwhelmed.
Emerging from this marketing uncertainty is the customer data platform or CDP. The CDP promises a single customer view across channels, both online and offline to ease marketing decisions. Do businesses really need a CDP? Well, yes. In addition to the marketing upheaval, the passing of laws such as GDPR and CCPA means the consequences for getting identity wrong are much higher. Marketers are simultaneously tasked with knowing a customer — but only with consent. In this environment, the conversation has shifted from, “Do I need a CDP?” to, “Which one should I choose?”
In this article, Acxiom’s Data Platforms Innovator Mike Danley weighs in on how to make a CDP a key component of the enterprise data strategy and ways to optimize customer identity.
Mike Danley is a leader of Acxiom’s enterprise data management product innovation team, which includes Acxiom’s flagship customer data platforms and campaign marketing. He’s an expert in the field of customer intelligence solutions that drive digital transformation and results that bridge ad tech and mar tech.
Transforming the Known Unknowns Into Known Knowns
Businesses need the ability to identify that the person on the website is the same one who checked out the retail store. Stitching is the ability to tie interactions together and identify a customer as they interact with your brand over time.
CDPs have the ability to collect unknown data. Danley explains: “If you go to a website and don’t tell the site who you are, the CDP will still collect data about your visit — usually from a cookie ID — and associate all those behaviors, stitching it together to a unified view. The more you know about a customer the better your CDP can drive customization and personalization.”
One Person or Two?
One of the key attributes of a CDP is its ability to create unified customer profiles. CDPs can ingest data from multiple streams to create a unified view of a single individual, but what about multiple people living in the same house? The concept of the household is a key strategy for larger organizations and generally isn’t a concept the CDP has. Getting it correct is crucial and CDPs need help to do that.
“CDPs in particular aren’t necessarily about identity but need identity to function,” Danley says. “They’re set up to focus on stitching together customer understanding using the basic identity of an individual. Giving them help on marketing concepts such as households ensures the individuals within that household also get great marketing experiences. Seeing households as individuals might result in those people getting marketed to multiple times, which isn’t a great experience for anyone.”
Fine-Tuning Your CDP
While CDPs can bring the data together, they’re only one component in a company’s martech stack. They need optimization assistance. One area is around optimizing customer profiles. Most CDPs are collecting customer information they can observe; they don’t automatically collect from every data silo. And because brick-and-mortar stores don’t want to come across as invasive they’ll only collect identifiable information, such as phone number authentication or info from your loyalty program.
“You’re marketing to a person, not an email address,” Danley says. “The CDP really needs some help with additional data that it might not observe in order to treat you like a real person. Our technology makes CDPs perform better than they can independently. Recent work we did showed that you can recognize 5X more people when combining Acxiom’s Real Identity with your CDP solution.”
Privacy is another area where CDPs need optimization. Customers only want a brand to know what they know and don’t want to go beyond. How does a CDP navigate privacy concerns while still creating customer understanding and actionable insights?
“A CDP’s concept of privacy is oriented around consent management,” Danley says. “As a CDP is connected to all different channels the data is being connected in a compliant way and companies have permission to do so – through cookie notices for example.
“Data governance is another story. CDPs don’t natively support governance, companies have to set up those tools. Companies like Acxiom come to the table with the experience of data governance and compliance and can optimize the CDP, offer processes, train associates on how to properly use the tool and create governance around the data flow.”
These days, marketers must know their customer but not without explicit consent. “At the end of the day you’re marketing to a real person, someone who’s interacting with and buying from your brand,” Danley says. “They just happen to be interacting with you through a device, whether it’s a computer, phone, or something else. So it’s up to you to create relevant content and offers that will entice that customer.” Companies can use CDPs and CDP-optimization tools to navigate the uncertainty of today’s marketing space and better understand and know their customers.
Be sure to listen to the Real Identity podcast, where Mike Danley joined hosts Kyle Hollaway, vice president and head of global identity and Dustin Raney, director of identity innovation, to discuss what it takes to make a CDP work at its fullest potential.
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Tim is the senior manager of research and content for Simpler Media Group. In his role he writes content, market guides and data-driven research reports for all of SMG’s internal and external clients.