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March 13th, 2020

Why Offline Identity is Key in a Cookieless Future

This article was originally published on AdAge.com on February 24, 2020.

By now, everyone in the marketing and advertising space knows that Google is phasing out support for third-party cookies within its Chrome browser, joining earlier moves by Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. The result will be an end to current cookie-based targeting and measurement across the digital ecosystem—and the way many marketers are measuring performance today.

Yet the challenge of tracking, measuring and targeting across sites, screens and channels doesn’t just go away. There remains a need to measure and optimize the performance of omnichannel personalization and marketing. With hundreds of millions of dollars already invested in delivering an end-to-end personalized solution, the vacuum must be filled. Marketers must continue to have access to user-level measurement, as they do with the cookie.

Today we see marketers using data gleaned from cookie-tracked online activity to identify and extract the necessary details and intelligence for planning and executing their media. They know which channels, creative, messages and placements deliver incremental ROI. While the loss of the cookie doesn’t mean these abilities are gone forever, things do become more difficult. Indeed, without some method of cross-channel holistic measurement, marketers may know how effective their efforts are, but not why they are effective or how to improve them.

The value of offline identity

There are some marketing pundits who say marketing mix modeling (MMM), a tactic that has been around for years, will be the de facto measurement tool in a world without cookies. Others say single-channel attribution and/or experimentation will sustain marketers. But, used alone, these are siloed tactics that will not produce optimal, consumer-centric results.

Marketers embracing only one or the other of these methodologies will be taking a step backward in meeting both business expectations to maximize ROI or growth and consumer demands for relevant, frictionless, privacy-safe experiences. Neither approach alone meets all the needs or solves all the challenges that marketers face now and in the future.

Why? MMM measurement, which looks at the long-term impact of the marketing mix, does not allow marketers to make the short-term, in-flight, campaign-level optimization decisions required for effective personalization due to its lag in reporting and granularity of its measurement. It also doesn’t capture the overlap between messages and publishers, frequency and reach that enable marketers to increase the effectiveness of their channel-level marketing efforts. Meanwhile, single-channel attribution is, by definition, limited and too cumbersome to deploy across a multitude of channels, thus resulting in limited measurement accuracy and fewer walled gardens in the mix.

This is why marketers need an alternative that will continue to provide them with real campaign planning and management data—especially in-flight—with journey-based, person-level measurement. They need a solution that provides cross-channel, privacy-friendly consumer data that they can use in a world without cookies. And while it may seem ironic, the most durable, effective way to do this is through offline identity, which gives marketers the ability to link online activity to known offline identifiers such as an address, phone number or email address. It’s a real game-changer.

Making a case for identity-centric measurement

An identity-centric measurement approach does not rely on any one identifier or profile. It leverages strategic partnerships across the marketing supply chain to turn marketing signals from multiple platforms and walled gardens into consumer activities with offline-based identity data. As a result, marketers are able to combine TV exposures, an affiliate click, a paid social ad and a website conversion into a single, complete journey and apply consumer attributes to quantify the incremental impact of each of those marketing engagements.

Complete success with this approach—defined as maintaining the ability to make granular marketing decisions aligned with strategic planning—is only attainable when offline, identity-powered multitouch attribution, or MTA, is unified with MMM.

Unified marketing measurement – or unified marketing analytics – as this combined approach is called, allows marketers to be truly customer-centric, merging offline, online, digital, physical—all the various channels and partners using different identifiers—to tell a story. It is a solution that measures all of the factors, both addressable and nonaddressable, that drive marketers' KPIs, providing a multidimensional view of the consumer and their full journey, both offline and online.

It gives marketers a view into the entire customer journey and a persistent view of identity that goes beyond where the consumer lives or what the customer’s phone number is by including demographics, interests, attitudes and behaviors.

The future is today

By embracing a unified methodology that connects top-down and bottom-up insights and is grounded in superior data management and strong partnerships with walled gardens, enterprise marketers gain a consistent, granular view of their impact and influence on the complete customer journey. With an offline identity-based solution, they also open up a whole world of more granular measurement for panel-based CPG sales data, as well as nonsales outcomes such as brand measurement and location.

This is not a pipe dream. These capabilities are available today and have the bonus of continuing to provide brands with a map they can use when navigating in a cookieless world. When this happens—when marketers have access to user-level measurement—consumers experience meaningful engagement, and everyone wins.



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