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What Is Identity Resolution?

TransUnion
Blog Post08/23/2021
Business Business Marketing
What Is Identity Resolution?

Identity resolution — the process of matching identifiers across devices and touchpoints to a single profile — helps build a cohesive, omnichannel view of a consumer, enabling brands to deliver relevant messaging throughout the customer journey.

Never have brands had access to so much data — but that means there’s also more duplicative, disconnected and inaccurate information out there. In the race to win customer attention and loyalty, brands must recognize and relate to customers through meaningful interactions — or lose to competitors who do. 

Connecting all the dots poses a challenge, but there’s one thing to tie consumer engagement together: identity. Identity means knowing who a customer is, what they want and need, and where they are in the buyer journey. This is accomplished by creating a connection point between all interactions — online and off, past and present — across the web, mobile apps, stores, email, digital ads and beyond.

Once all the information a brand has about an individual (offline CRM data, web browser history, app searches, etc.) is connected to a single profile, marketers can recognize individuals bouncing between devices, channels and platforms. Identity resolution providers with a persistent view of identifiers store historical information, continually collect new data, and update profiles — all so marketers can craft relevant and consistent interactions.

How does identity resolution work?

To resolve identity, you need an identity graph — a profile database housing all known identifiers correlated to individuals. Many advertisers are investing in ID graphs, pulling together known interactions into a single customer view. It’s an important step, but likely not enough as we charge toward a cookieless marketing landscape. 

Across a consumer’s journey, one or many personal identifiers may be associated with an individual: email addresses, physical addresses, mobile phone numbers, device IDs, account usernames, customer IDs, loyalty numbers and more. An ID graph collects and connects these identifiers to a customer profile. But with fragmentation happening across devices and channels — connected TVs, social media, news publishers and more — most brands will need help to see:

  • All the identifiers associated with a customer to market consistently across touchpoints — including channels or sites the brand doesn’t own.
  • A comprehensive view that includes attributes like browsing activity, purchase history and demographics — any datapoint that can help drive targeting decisions or more personalized campaigns.
  • A picture of identity extending beyond an existing customer base — helping enable prospecting campaigns and marketing growth.

It’s important to note identity resolution providers can use ID graphs that work with different data, matching methodologies and technology — offering varied expansion capabilities, connectivity, accuracy, speed and control.

The process of identity resolution

  • Step 1: Upload data — For many brands, identity resolution first means uploading offline customer data, such as CRM, into an online environment to match with digital identifiers.
  • Step 2: Connect to an ID graph — Next, customer data must be correlated with known online and offline identifiers. Customer email addresses, device identifiers, phone numbers, mobile IDs and more can comprise identity graphs. These identifiers can help improve a view of current customers, expand a brand’s identity footprint to a broader audience, and increase a people-based understanding across attributes.
  • Step 3: Activate — Connect digital identity profiles to ad platforms, media partners, analytics tools or a combination of endpoints to suit business needs. When an ID graph is already connected to activation channels, customers and consumers can be quickly and continuously recognized.

What’s possible with identity resolution?

The average US household already has more than 20 internet-enabled devices, meaning consumers can readily switch between screens — and other devices like smart speakers, gaming consoles and streaming media players — at a moment’s notice. With new smart devices continually hitting the market, people’s cross-device habits are increasingly complicated. With identity resolution, brands can use data to transform experiences across human, physical and digital touchpoints. 

By combining data upload, persistent identification, real-time audience matching and segmentation capabilities, brands can execute powerful cross-channel marketing campaigns. Recognizing and engaging with the right users wherever they are — no matter the touchpoint or stage in the buyer journey — means marketers can deepen engagement, build brand affinity, reduce churn and boost their bottom lines.

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