The future of identity: Digital marketing trends that go beyond 2020

By Alex Mcllvenny, country manager UK at zeotap

Evolution is the only constant in the future of digital marketing. Over a year ago, the highest priority was being GDPR-compliant and now the subtle echoes of data privacy and security can only be heard in the distance with the pending California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). But now, identity resolution is center stage and will dominate upcoming conversations.

The increasing volume of data generated from 5G-powered connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, coupled with the privacy-first policies  — aka ‘the death of cookies’ — is making identity resolution a growing challenge. It has become more important than ever for brands to have the superior customer intelligence to survive in an increasingly competitive advertising landscape, where personalization is the cornerstone of everything.

Although a holistic marketing strategy that employs identity resolution can be tricky to navigate, here are five trends that will reach far beyond 2020 and set the precedent for next-gen brands.

Heightened customer experience through identity-related personalization
Salesforce observed that 80 percent of customers value the brand experience as much as the products themselves. While McKinsey reports that personalization can reduce acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, lift revenues by 5 to 15 percent and increase marketing spend efficiency by 10 to 30 percent. Heightened customer experience, via personalization, directly translates into more return on investment, which is why brands will keep focusing on increasing their personalization efforts. Identity will play a major role in defining which personalization strategy has to be implemented for each customer cluster.

First-party data identities
Even if brands have invested in having first-party data, locally stored in CRMs and DMPs/CDPs, fragmented customer identities that are populated by poor-quality or sparse data result in a lack of customer understanding. For example, a brand making use of their customers’ purchase CRM data might not have the full picture of their customers, but rather a partial one. Decisions taken off the basis of this partial data could lead to losses. Instead, brands can proactively start by digitizing their CRMs — since these are the systems that are identity-rich — enabling brands to consistently reach out to their target audience with consistent messaging across channels, build accurate lookalikes based on the characteristics of their most loyal customers and apply negative targeting to current customers to make sure they don’t see irrelevant ads.

The effects of 5G and IoT on identity
The capabilities of 5G will not only produce hoards of data but allow us to track micro-moments throughout the buying journey. With these added capabilities, the chances of duplicate data, and the number of devices it is dispersed across increases, making it harder for brands to track and action the data. It is in the brand’s best interests to combine several technologies so fragmented data sets can be unified to form full customer views. Without the full customer view, data is not insightful and a robust marketing strategy cannot be formed.

Realizing identity without the cookie in a mobile-first world
Cookies have allowed marketers to track individuals online, measure programmatic flows, better target users and analyze campaign delivery. But new restrictions, such as Safari’s block on third-party cookies, are forcing marketers to scout out new opportunities to survive in a cookie-less world. Jim Daily, Teads global president at this year’s Programmatic I/O event earlier this month outlined how this has resulted in a 30 percent decrease in European cookies alone. For brands, persuading users to opt-in to cookie experiences or to alternatively subscribe for an incentive, like premium content or special web domain features, allows them to tie disparate user identities to mobile ad IDs, emails, phone numbers, and other online identifiers. These alternate online identifiers are becoming the de facto choice to replace the cookie in a mobile-first world since they track devices not browsers, work in-app and are much more reliable and long-lasting.

Digital transformation through identity resolution
Finally, identity resolution allows brands to act on more than just their marketing strategies. Brands who have a deep understanding of their customers —which devices they own, what they like, where they like to shop and what they intend to buy — can start to make strategic business decisions that transcend digital marketing. Real customer insights shed light on customer wants and needs which can be used to shape upcoming product features, roadmaps and ultimately, iterate business models.

Identity resolution allows brands to not only cater better to their existing customers in the wake of GDPR/CCPA, 5G, and IoT, but it also allows brands to better acquire new customers, up and cross-sell to existing ones and increase retention, leading to next-gen brands that have the ultimate competitive edge.

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