Login is restricted to DCN Publisher Members. If you are a DCN Member and don't have an account, register here.

Digital Content Next


InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Publishers: Marketers care about identity and you should too

September 29, 2020 | By Megan McKenna, VP Marketing—Lotame @JerryMcKenns

Change is the “new normal” in 2020. Everything comfortable in our personal and professional lives has been upended. But in the face of massive amounts of discomfort, the digital advertising industry is beginning to collaborate like never before on the many challenges in front of us. 

Identity is front and center, and for good reason. It’s become a highly divisive topic with those in favor and those firmly against (and without an alternative, innovative idea). On the pro-identity side are marketers who believe identity is an essential tool to understand, find, and accurately target and message their customers. 

Marketers are asking for what they want. It’s our duty – and in our best interest – to listen. 

Get real, people

Marketers want to engage real people – and as many as possible. That real person is not a device or a one-time page visit. We’re talking about a real person with multidimensional needs, desires and passions. Ask any marketer (or agency, for that matter) about the arduous work of crafting personas that represent those people. It requires an enormous lift to create, validate, and test these personas. You can imagine how defeating it is to turn your personas into addressable audiences, only for them to fail or be unable to prove that they didn’t fail. 

Identity can solve this marketer pain. The duopoly understands identity well, which is why they’ve put up walls. (By the way, they can afford to put up walls as all of their users are authenticated. By contrast, publishers can at best hope for 10% authentication.) 

Marketers can answer their important questions inside the walled gardens but can’t build on those learnings on their own. Publishers already feel the heat from competing with walled gardens and from marketers who want and need to prove they’ve reached who they intended to and that their ad dollars are well spent. Everyone’s job is on the line. Identity can solve for the pain we’re all feeling.  

If we invite marketers to the conversation versus solving in isolation, we may be pleasantly surprised. Marketers have a lot to say. They also have a lot of opinions on what a bright future for digital advertising looks like. The Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media is one such group of enterprise marketers and adtech that are collaborating to find solutions that work for all of us, rather than a select few. (Full disclosure, Lotame is a member of PRAM.) Let’s dig into why identity matters to marketers.

Five reasons identity matters

1. Customers

A marketer’s most valuable asset is the customer. The same is true for publishers. What we know about our customers is limited by our interactions, no matter whether we’re a marketer or a publisher. Identity helps fill in the blindspots in our customer intel.

Data enrichment is one method marketers use to expand their knowledge of changing behaviors, passions, and interests. If we want our messages to resonate with customers, we have to be on top of their ever-changing habits. We have to find a way for marketers to bring their own customer data to the party. 

2. Privacy

Privacy is a human right. PRAM sees privacy as the bedrock of its six principles. Consumers must have transparency and control over how their data is used. Navigating privacy is increasingly more difficult for everyone in the digital advertising ecosystem. With privacy laws changing all the time, even well-meaning companies are having a tough time keeping up. It requires deep resources to do the right thing by consumers. 

However, it can be done and identity can help in a cookieless world. Those spinning fear about the impossibility of universal opt-out aren’t telling you the truth. It’s possible and happening right now: Consumer choices can be respected and cascaded across the digital life of the consumer. Privacy should be controlled by a consumer, not a device or browser. 

3. Addressability

Identity helps us identify our customers so that we can engage with exactly the right people. Any marketer that wants to keep their job must be able to prove their ad spend worked. Will a single page visit comfort marketers that they’ve reached the right person? Unlikely. 

If we can’t reach our customers with confidence, we’ll invest elsewhere, because we have to. Identity helps us make investments in publishers with greater assurance that ad spend is going toward engaging someone who is actually interested or has a high propensity to be interested in our products. Context does matter but it comes second to identity. 

4. Frequency Capping

Customers are only human. And anyone will get annoyed by an ad they are not interested in or have seen too many times. Identity solves the frequency capping problem. When devices are connected down to the individual-level using identity, we can ensure that the consumer is encouraged toward conversion and not enraged by the recurrence of an ad. Frequency capping is a win-win for marketers and publishers. 

5. Measurement & Reporting

With the insight provided to enable targeting and frequency capping, marketers also have access to accurate measurement and attribution with identity. Marketers need proof our campaigns worked. With identity, we can follow the customer through their journey from exposure to conversion to repeat purchase, etc. We can also understand which channels are responsible for that conversion. No one wants to return to the John Wanamaker days of “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Change for the better

No one said change was easy. But it’s certainly worthwhile to examine our practices and processes and strive to do better. Investing in identity benefits marketers, publishers, and consumers. We don’t need a white knight to save us all. We need our best and brightest to come together and debate solutions. Frankly we need each other to survive. Let’s build a future that connects rather than divides us. 

Liked this article?

Subscribe to the InContext newsletter to get insights like this delivered to your inbox every week.