The buzz of the latest big name conference for marketers, data buyers and suppliers hit on a few main topics, mobile, identity resolution, data fragmentation and attribution. Marketers and data suppliers alike are all looking for ways to resolve this. But the issues stemming from it, are exactly the reason why the market has remained fragmented and difficult to navigate. Piecing the needed data points together to create a cohesive view of the consumer is ultimately the end goal and sounds like it should be easy until you being to consider compliance and privacy laws. This is at the root of the problems all marketers are discussing and whether or not it is possible to resolve them.

One Consumer, many sources – We as consumers leave digital and offline trails in many different places. Online, mobile, forms, are all touch points for consumers in everyday life. Piecing those together to show where a consumer has either made a choice or is about to make a buying decision (in market) is maybe not the holy grail, but one of the most important pieces in reaching the holy grail of marketing. This should be any easy task to piece together the pieces of the consumer journey and be able to create a holistic view. Until you run into the issues plaguing the industry due to Privacy compliance aka PII. Once you begin down the journey of collecting the needed data points to be able to identify a consumer that is in market, and then look to identity resolution to attribute that to someone you know is real it becomes an issue. So we are left with fragmented data sources that we think contain consumers that we believe are in market, and that they are who they say, or the data says they are without really connecting them to each other.

Privacy and accuracy – Two of the most important yet conflicting issues are those of privacy vs accuracy. As marketers, we want data that is as accurate as possible. As consumers, we don’t want marketing to become “creepy” or “big brother-ish” lest it be “weaponized” in some was as recent wiki leaks suggest it easily could be. We must take a pause and wonder are we past that point already? Does privacy as we would like to think of it really still exist? If the polls are correct the majority are willing to give up some personal data such as location in order to let marketers add value and pass along deals. For marketers, it then becomes a matter of location accuracy and being able to tie that back to an individual. Linkage using things like latitude and longitude as well as IP address can be problematic due to accuracy. We can use location and certain ID’s to know someone is a frequent shopper at a local retail point but tying that ID back to an actual consumer in market becomes a challenge if not outright impossible. Linkage point mixed with PII compliance and accuracy issues becomes the biggest hurdle for most marketers and the point where “close enough” becomes better than not at all. One marketer told me “I would rather know that an ad hit was delivered to someone in the same household or even neighborhood than to not have delivered it at all. The conversion rates may not be as high, but it will be higher than just a traditional blast because I have a better chance at hitting my target.”

The bottom line – For now, marketers settle for fragmentation not only in their own organizations still, but also in the market because they feel like they have to. Without really making a huge effort to research and test multiples of different data providers to get what they need it is better to just depend on the big names and higher prices of those that could get them “close enough” and have multiple sources, each neatly packaged for either the category or delivery method their campaign strategy calls for. They even build the strategy this way, because it is more convenient to build them around the silos that already exist. Marketers and data people alike need to think more consumer centric and about the database as a whole as opposed to delivery methods and categories when it comes to getting the right data and delivering their message to the right consumer, at the right place, at the right time.

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