Paula Chiocchi is CEO of Outward Media, Inc., a leading provider of multi-channel marketing data that drives business growth and success.

As a longtime provider of multichannel marketing data, I've seen the ebb and flow of trends over the years. The impending removal of third-party cookies from major web browsers, customer expectations at an all-time high, and the uncertain economic and social future in a pandemic, among other things, are changing the course for marketers. New ways to reach target audiences must be explored, especially as more people are working from home, on new devices and at different hours.

Digital marketing is undergoing a sea change. For marketers today, data is not just a helpful tool, but a necessity to reach the right customers. And while there's an overwhelming amount of data available and many martech solutions claiming to be the best, the challenge is in finding solutions that work together. Thankfully, innovative data acquisition strategies are bringing together data in new ways. These strategies are people-focused to better connect, control and activate data to optimize campaigns. Here's how.

Using Quality Data From Multiple Sources

Even large organizations with extensive databases need a blend of internal and external data. Why? Data from multiple sources enables greater access to the best potential customers, better segmentation, and ensures accuracy by being able to cross-reference data points and purge invalid records. This is the first step in creating unified profiles for a 360-degree view of each prospect.

Staying People-Focused Across Channels And Devices

With buyers using multiple devices, across channels and in oftentimes unpredictable ways, the task of creating unified profiles is a difficult one. Customers today expect brands to know who they are and their preferences. If you're not using your data correctly, you're not just missing out, but you risk alienating prospects and damaging consequences like negative reviews. Digital marketers need a way to reach their audience with relevant messaging across platforms triggered by specific actions, such as site clicks or web searches.

Identity resolution serves to address and merge the inconsistencies and unknowns of a person's various identities across the many channels they engage with. The process weaves together many data points to determine a more complete view of the customer. If a prospect accesses their work email on their personal laptop at home and logs in to a social media site at the same time on a mobile phone, identity resolution would match that information to add the email address, social account and device information to the same profile.

As a result, there's an increased understanding of the people behind their actions, interests and needs. For example, if that prospect submitted their email address on your website to access content, you could then reach them with personalized, relevant messaging across all of their known channels and devices.

Mapping Interconnected Data

One way that identity resolution data is being integrated and applied for acquisition marketing is through identity graphs. An identity graph is made up of anonymized profiles representing real, individual consumers. Probabilistic identity graphs map data that is likely the right person, while deterministic graphs are based on known identifiers for an exact match. Both have value in reaching a broader audience, but the accuracy of deterministic graphs ensures you're not wasting funds on duplicate records.

Each anonymized ID on the identity graph is tied to an actual person, but the personally identifiable information (PII) is not accessible to the marketer, so the consumer's privacy is protected. Using the identity graph, marketers can access data from multiple providers and data sources, then use a variety of conditions to build their custom audiences. The marketer, agency or brand, can then take the anonymized IDs from the identity graph to a demand-side platform to deliver the ads.

Gaining An Omnichannel View

Digital platforms and identity graphs bring together powerful data sets for highly targeted, optimized audience building. And because they usually obtain data from multiple sources and providers, marketers have a broader reach and more accurate data. For example, as a data provider, my company's medical market and SMB data are available through third-party data stores and can be added to an identity graph to reach these specific markets.

From my experience, if you're looking for identity resolution and identity graph platforms, look for a provider that offers continuous, updated and curated deterministic matches. The data need to be continuously updated — as the person changes companies, gets promoted, buys a new mobile device and so on.

Additionally, look for a provider that brings together various data sets from reputable providers. For example, email address data is a key element. Long recognized as a reliable central identifier for digital marketing, it forms a foundational layer for effectively targeting the right people with an identity graph. For that reason, make sure your provider can offer a high email data validity guarantee to enable more precise targeting.

If the future of digital marketing is data-driven and personalized, the future is also interdependent. No matter how much data you have, there's always more and something you could be missing. But when expert solutions come together, digital marketing can be executed with precision targeting to stay the course and reach the right audience at the right time. The result is a people-based, omnichannel view of your target audience that benefits all involved.