When it comes to selecting a data onboarding partner, marketers should carefully evaluate its capabilities, particularly when it comes to processing speed, data accuracy and brand control. These core components will impact the effectiveness of media activation, the level of addressability and the ability to leverage strategic insights to enhance overall brand performance.
Have you ever — or, let’s be real here — how often have you viewed then purchased a product in a matter of minutes…but still had an ad for that same product follow you around the Web for days? Disconnected experiences like these can be the result of slow onboarding.
Most onboarders still process data in batch files, which typically takes five to seven days to upload customer data, match it against digital identifiers and push out customer profiles to media vendors. This means that whatever happens between the initial data upload and the final activation point is not recorded – it’s lost. And customers can do a lot in five days.
Think about how we shop today. We may start a search on our desktop, compare email offers on our phone, seek advice through social media on our laptop and go to a store to make a purchase — all in the span of a few days, hours, even minutes. If you aren’t able to continuously capture, merge and activate this customer data in real time, opportunities to interact with contextual relevance at critical moments in buyer journeys are lost, as are potential conversions, strategic insights and the ability to accurately measure performance.
Onboarding vendors are keen on promoting their match rates, which reflect the quality of a brand’s first-party data as compared to an onboarder’s truth set. And for good reason: Onboarder match rates are usually very high, largely due to their use of probabilistic data (i.e., device IDs, IP addresses or browser types) to create highly likely statistical connections. However, due to their transient nature, often more than half of these IDs are expired, duplicative or incomplete.
Yet while a high match rate may imply greater reach, it does not represent how many individuals are actually reached…nor if they are even the right customers. Between days-long processing and probabilistic IDs, an onboarder’s addressability rate – the odds that a customer is still using the same browser or cookie days later—is quite low.
To make sure you are able to relevantly reach and engage known customers, you need to look beyond match rates and evaluate an onboarder’s abilities for addressability. When an onboarding solution roots profiles in deterministic and authenticated data (such as hashed emails or anonymized login information) that is continually refreshed with each new interaction, you know precisely who you can address and on what channels.
When working with a third-party onboarder, you are often required to “rent” a vendor’s identity graph for the duration of a campaign. Onboarders match your audience segments to their rented identity graph, and once the campaign is over, that segment-level data disappears, along with all those customer connections. Thus you must start the onboarding process all over again to reach the very same customers.
Equally troublesome is onboarding directly with a media partner, such as Facebook or Google. While these walled gardens can upload and match a brand’s data with their own massive lists of logged-in users in a matter of hours and deliver unrivaled scale, they do not share back much (if any) user-level data or insights, making it impossible to connect what happens inside these closed ecosystems with the rest of your marketing efforts.
Today onboarding solutions exist that ensure you maintain complete ownership and control of your customer data. With full transparency into how data is collected, used and distributed, you can track performance and optimize strategies to align with broader business goals.
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