DMPs have ushered in the era of people-based marketing, but most DMPs don’t understand the difference between people and profiles.

Susan Bidel, Senior Analyst from Forrester, and John Baronello, Director of Marketing Analytics at Allstate joined me in a webinar on June 26 to talk about today’s landscape, “The Fatal Flaws of DMPs” and how a brand can navigate this more impactfully to drive their business.

Susan pointed out that marketers need to understand what drives value vs. what drives distraction. She noted there are now over 213 million adults online and the average U.S. adult uses more than four devices, in many cases more than one at a time! It is increasingly common to watch TV while shopping on a mobile phone, texting a friend, or commenting on social media. And these devices and behaviors travel both inside and outside the house. 

As such, it’s hard to identify who, where, what device and what stage of the purchase funnel a consumer is in, leading to waste and inefficiencies for marketers. To solve this challenge, marketers leverage data as the connective thread to understanding their consumer. And to manage all this data, marketers rely on DMPs to ingest and syndicate data to successfully execute a digital ad campaign, measure marketing returns, and provide marketing insights.

Identifying the DMP Flaw

At Neustar, we realized that the current DMPs were built to solve a cookie problem, not an identity problem. DMPs don’t help marketers solve for the whole customer journey, as they only provide a partial view of a consumer’s identity. That’s where DMPs are fatally flawed. 

First, consumers have over 4+ devices and multiple email addresses, so their data is not static.  Their data is constantly changing as they make new life choices. Every year, over 55 million people in the U.S. change phone carriers, 45 million change phone numbers, 50 million people move and over 2 million even change their name. The average cookie is deleted every 30 days.  Neustar research shows that 60% of a brand’s own CRM data can be wrong after two years.  Every time there is a change in your consumer’s profile, the identity chain breaks. And, that means all the data a brand might be using in their DMP for targeting and measurement is driving waste, not sales. 

Additionally, consumers are no longer loyal to just Internet Explorer. They also surf the web on Chrome, Safari or Firefox, often on the same devices. Each consumer ends up with multiple cookies, causing further identity fragmentation. Now, what looks like a person is really just a partial profile that doesn't tell the whole story.

Mobile phones and tablets, which typically don’t use cookies, fragment identity further. And the confidently named cross-device graph offers only a limited view of the consumer, based only in the digital world and often relying on stale or inaccurate linkages. In the end, DMPs aren’t offering people-based marketing so much as profile and device-based marketing.

Here’s a giveaway: How many DMPs and people-based marketers claim to be able to target over a billion people? There are only 220 million adults in the U.S. and about 125 million households. DMPs and people-based solutions traffic in tonnage, but not consumer identity.

The Online/Offline Disconnect

Traditional and digital marketing still don’t acknowledge each other. Unable to accurately connect marketing efforts, many organizations have massive blind spots. They don’t know what drove a purchase and can’t connect the dots between offline and online experiences and exposures. They risk pissing off their consumers with this disconnect. If I had a dollar for every time I was targeted with an ad for shoes I had just purchased, I could go buy a whole new closet full of shoes. And don’t get me started about when I receive new subscriber incentives from my carrier that are much better than my existing deal. That's a sure way to encourage a consumer breakup!

The consumers we want to connect with are real people, they are not profiles. And real people live in both physical and digital worlds. They expect a brand to live and deliver connected customer experiences. At Neustar, we firmly believe that the key to connection is identity.  Because if you don’t get identity right, your people-based marketing will be wrong. Beyond connecting profiles, we need to connect what happens in a physical store with what happens in the digital world to form a more accurate picture of a consumer’s identity to have a meaningful relationship with them.

Today’s DMPs still treat the world as disconnected channels and devices. Without a single set of truth, it’s no wonder that brands have distorted views of customers, campaigns and publisher performance. Sales are attributed to partial profiles and is blind to duplications.

It’s About People, Not Devices

To solve this, we need to raise the bar. It's time to market to people, not profiles or devices. The one true way to understand people is through the lens of identity. Identity is the sum total of a person’s entire experience and footprint, online and offline, across everything. Identity is who your customer really is.

Identity is more than a cookie, an email or a device ID. Identity is singular, as there should only be one identity for each of the 220 million U.S. adults, not billions. Identity is not short term but adds a new layer of interest and intent with every visit, click, view and conversion. It’s a person who lives online and offline, in a connected world.

A consumer is more than their digital footprint, more than their devices and their email address.  Marketers who truly understand their consumers at an identity level have a competitive advantage as they can develop deep insights, segment and target with intelligence, activate with greater precision, measure more confidently, and create a learning loop that fuels their business results. Effective identity resolution recognizes people across their full consumer journey. Marketers can reduce waste by eliminating duplicate profiles and drive greater ROI.

IDMP to the Rescue

Neustar’s answer to this critical DMP problem is the IDMP, a DMP built on identity. Allstate uses Neustar’s IDMP to unify all of their marketing activities to individuals to drive effectiveness, reduce waste and grow their business.

Allstate recognized that they needed a more comprehensive view of their consumers. John Baronello shared that while Allstate is on a path, they also recognize this is a journey due to the constant changes in technology and data.

Allstate understood the importance of a data strategy, but recognized that all the myriad ad tech partners and options were butchering the data itself. Allstate is deeply focused on data and has a wealth of sources — from its call center, CRM, app visits, mobile visits, web visits and digital ads — but the company needed to unify it all to push out more qualified 1-to-1 marketing to consumers.

To solve this, Allstate uses Neustar’s IDMP to unify and resolve all its different platforms to people and centralize intelligence. Allstate values the ability to leverage Neustar’s platform to go to the data and clearly see the outcomes. John believes that the more brands rely on algorithms, the fuzzier the results can be. But if a brand’s underlying data is strong, the brand will be in good shape. John also noted that an additional value of their partnership with Neustar allows them to immediately ingest data and vet partnerships to explore the potential incremental growth before Allstate invests in a test. This helps the company screen and make better decisions on partners with a more informed view of identity.

As my friend John at Allstate knows, if marketers don’t get identity right, everything else will be wrong. The key to it all is an end-to-end system of identity. No brand wants to market to a profile. Brands need to market to the people who buy their products, not their devices. The fatal flaw of DMPs is that they do just that. It's time for a better tool — an IDMP that’s built on identity. Understanding identity is a brand’s competitive advantage in a connected world.