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Digital Velocity Podcast Hosted by Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez

10 Utilizing Identity Resolution to Fuel Digital Marketing - Shaun Scott

This week on the Digital Velocity Podcast, Shaun Scott of 4Cite joins Erik and Tim to discuss utilizing identity resolution to fuel digital marketing.

He says, “I feel the death of the third-party cookie is going to hurt a lot of businesses that rely on digital display and doing it that way. That's where I feel identifying those visitors on your site, tying them to a person, and being able to target them in different areas and basically where they want to be targeted and understanding the behavior, and then it ultimately, tying it back and collecting more first-party data is going to help. That's where I think businesses need to get is the importance of first-party data is going to be important.”

Shaun stresses the significance of knowing who your consumers are in order to properly market to them. He explains, “So, right there, if you're building out strategies, understanding who the consumer is and who that visitor is, I think is paramount. Being able to build those strategies to enable the technologies that you’re spending all this money for, because if you're spending money on all these great cool tech platforms that can do all these cool things to market to individuals and customize the experience, they all have one thing in common, you have to understand who the consumer is. How are you supposed to personalize any type of experience without knowing who that visitor is?”

Learn more about identity resolution, first-party data, second-party data, privacy concerns and so much more on this episode.  

About the Guest:

Shaun Scott is a seasoned marketing professional with more than 15 years in the industry. He has spent the last 4+ years at 4Cite Marketing focused on cultivating client relationships and helping companies develop digital identity solutions. These companies range from traditional brick and mortar retailers, direct to consumer, financial, insurance, and non-profit services. Before coming to 4Cite, Shaun spent 5+ years at Epsilon where he provided strategic direction to his clients in support of marketing operations, campaign management, and reporting.

Before making his way into the marketing industry, Shaun attended culinary school and managed a few different restaurants. Shaun is a lifelong San Francisco 49ers fan and when he is not working, he is an avid golfer and enjoys spending time with friends and family.


Erik Martinez: [00:00:00] Welcome to this week's episode of the Digital Velocity Podcast. I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine,

Tim Curtis: and I'm Tim Curtis from CohereOne.

Erik Martinez: Today, we are pleased to speak with Shaun Scott from 4Cite Marketing to talk a little bit about identity resolution.

Tim Curtis: Shaun is a seasoned marketing professional. He's got more than 15 years experience in the industry. The last four of which he has spent at 4Cite Marketing now a part of Merkle. He's focused on cultivating the client relationships and then helping companies develop digital identity [00:01:00] solutions. So, the companies he works with range from your traditional brick and mortar retails, direct to consumer, financia,l insurance and nonprofit services.

Before coming to 4Cite, Shaun actually spent 5 plus years at Epsilon where he provided strategic direction to his clients and supported their marketing operations, campaign management, and reporting. Interestingly, before he made his way to the marketing industry, Shaun attended culinary school and managed a few different restaurants. He is a lifelong 49ers fan and when he's not working, he's an avid golfer and enjoys spending time with his friends and family. Welcome, Shaun, glad to you.

Shaun Scott: Thanks for having me. I appreciate that Tim. As a lifelong 49ers fan, I'd like to thank you for the Super Bowl a couple of years ago. I've known you're a Chief's fan, and I'm still hurt a little bit from that.

Erik Martinez: Go Chiefs.

Tim Curtis: Yep. You're welcome. I know.

Erik Martinez: Go Chiefs.

Shaun Scott: You know, I'm slowly getting over it.

Tim Curtis: Sounds like you've really come to grips with it.

Shaun Scott: I appreciate you having me. I'm getting there. I'm getting there. Therapy has helped a lot with that Super Bowl, but no, we're good. I appreciate you having me, and I'm happy to talk about [00:02:00] a digital identity cause I think it's a very important topic and in today's world.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. It's certainly a one of those topics that today, or in conversation today, not only because of the power of its usage, but I think because of the amount of privacy legislation that's advancing around the country, and so as a natural reflection of that we're talking a lot more about privacy, and of course we'll get into the privacy aspects and how you can be compliant with the law while still taking advantage of what I would consider a game changer in terms of the ability to take your marketing up to another level.

Why don't you give us just a little bit more of your background and some of the strategic work you've done and a little bit about that journey from Epsilon through 4Cite/Merkle.

Shaun Scott: Absolutely. So, as you saw there, yes, I attended culinary school. I went to the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, and I spent some years in the restaurant business. I love everything about cooking. Funny thing is, I can't bake to save my life, but I love to cook and doing those types of things, but I kind of made that journey, like I've always enjoyed numbers. [00:03:00] That's what kinda got me into marketing and marketing analytics, and really helping understand what drives different performances of marketing strategies and campaigns.

So, I worked at a B2B company for a while after the restaurant business, doing a lot of marketing analytics. Then I kind of moved over into the direct mail world. A lot of it starting with ICentrics, back in those days with a merge purge and direct mail and helping with direct mail campaigns, doing a lot of those. It kind of slowly evolved into the Epsilon world where building relationships through there and helping the companies throughout all of what Epsilon offered.

Then, close to five years ago, I moved over to 4Cite Marketing and I really liked what they were doing. I thought it was very intriguing. I thought it was a game changer when it comes to identity resolution and how to use it. So, here I am today, through the last probably year and a half or so cause we got acquired by Merkle for the digital identity, what we're gonna talk about today.

At 4Cite, [00:04:00] our identity graphs, our power, a product within Merkle called Mercury, which is a first-party enterprise identity solution and our digital identity graphs power the digital side of that with our tagging solution. You combine that with the terrestrial identity that Merkle has been doing for 20 plus years along with understanding who that consumer is, pairing that with first, second, third-party data attributes, and tying it to a person, and connecting out into the different channels out there through CDPs and different publishers and so on, so forth to be able to market to a person because I think that's important today, is understanding your person.

 When it comes to digital identity, we talk a lot about cookies and so on and so forth. A lot of times you've got to tie it to the person because that's who you're going to understand when we individualize someone. Okay. It just brings us to where we are today. We'll talk about the importance of how I feel, and we feel, tying anything to a person and being able to market to that [00:05:00] individual to personalize their experience.

Erik Martinez: So, Shaun, you threw out a whole bunch of acronyms in there and for those that may not be familiar with those acronyms or terms, let's just give them a real quick definition. You mentioned CDP, identity graph, and merge purge which I understand cause I'm an old school direct marketer, but maybe if you could just take a couple seconds and explain what those are and how they tie into this identity resolution conversation.

Shaun Scott: Sure. Yeah. Years ago, like what direct mailer wouldn't still do an merge purge today. Just think of it as you're bringing a bunch of your customer and prospect lists together and you're merging them together to come up with a mail file. Okay. Like where suppressions and deduping, getting rid of duplicates within those files, and getting the best record there on a merge purge that's typically in the direct mail world.

 In identity graphs, those are pretty much databases, if you think about it. With different data attributes and data elements [00:06:00] from, we'll say a browser, that can tie utilizing those attributes. For an example, someone comes to the site, there's attributes within the browser, whether it be a first-party cookie, third-party cookies are still being used today, not by Apple Safari, but Google Chrome is still, till 2023, user agent IP address. Those types of things are used and stored within identity graphs, tied to an email. That's kind of the identity graphs. So, we'll talk a little bit about what we bring to the table for our identity graphs and how we build those out.

CDP, is your customer data platform, you know, a lot of digital stuff, we're talking of the Adobes of the world. The sales force, they have these CDPs as a centralized kind of data hub. So, where you're pushing data, your digital offline, online, and then you'll be able to have those customer profiles within there, and then they have connections out there to do the different marketing channels out there. Whether you want to send audiences out to social, or some sort of digital media, or you want to build for email, so on and so forth.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. Thanks.

Shaun Scott: You're welcome.

Erik Martinez: I appreciate [00:07:00] you given those explanations because I think there's a lot of terminology being thrown around in this particular topic and it helps to have the same common context of what that means, so we can have the conversation and everybody understands the context.

Shaun Scott: I appreciate you letting me do that too, and I, you know, I really oversimplified a lot of them too.

Tim Curtis: So, identity resolution at the moment, is sort of a bit of the rage, right? A lot of oxygen in the room is taken talking about identity resolution or focusing on identity resolution. Why should we care about it? Why do you think it is as important as it is for brand executives to leverage this?

Shaun Scott: Great question. I look at it through a digital lens, so that's where I'm going to come from with some of my answers because there's larger enterprise identity solutions where you're building debt to that person, but I'm going to come through it from a digital lens, just where my brain tends to go.

So, websites today, unless you're Amazon, have no way of knowing who their visitors are, unless they authenticate. [00:08:00] Which means they log in or give some sort of indicator and raise their hand saying, hey, this is me. So, the only time you may get something like that is if they place an order at the end, which we know, most retailers it's 2 to 4%, maybe 6% convert on a website, and then you got maybe another couple percent that may authenticate and log in on the site and do something, so you're looking at maybe 6 to 8%. So, there's 92% there of your website traffic. For our internal clients, we see 94% when they come to us, 94% of their visits today are anonymous.

So, right there, if you're building out strategies, understanding who the consumer is and who that visitor is, I think is paramount. Being able to build those strategies to enable the technologies that you're spending all this money for, because if you're spending all this money on all these great cool tech platforms [00:09:00] that can do all these cool things to market to individuals and customize the experience, they all have one thing in common, you have to understand who the consumer is. How are you supposed to personalize any type of experience without knowing who that visitor is?

I could have placed an order a year ago, but the last 12 months I've been on your site, engaged, doing different things, putting products in my cart, looking at different other products. If you don't understand that's my behavior, how are you supposed to market to me? You're marketing to me based on an order 12 months ago, and hoping that I come back, not knowing that I've been engaged for 12 months, and yet I haven't seen anything that's going that route, and I'm not saying like specific to an offer. It could just be anything of understanding what my likes and dislikes are.

You look at products you browse, for an example, I might not like those. Maybe we want to suppress some of those marketing messages, or I'm carting different items, like doing different types of lookalike models for categories, so on, so forth, of [00:10:00] helping you build out that whole strategy around a consumer, instead of building a strategy around RFM, cause it works. For CohereOne, we provide resolved site identity data through, we'll say direct mail models, to build out those models. We see 10, 15, 20% lift in some of these models utilizing that engagement data and it could be higher, but it all depends on those things.

Erik Martinez: So, Shaun, asking a foreshadowing question, when one of your clients comes to Merkle, and their capturing 6 to 8%, when they work with Merkle, what is that number when they come out the other side?

Shaun Scott: Currently, across all verticals, our digital identity solution, we call it the mercury digital consumer recognition, it's our mercury tag, we average about a 50% identity rate to a person based ID across all of our confidence scores. So, we haven't gotten into confidence levels of identity, which we can get into, but it's across all confidence scores.

Erik Martinez: [00:11:00] Just to put that in layman's terms, if I am starting with 6 to 8%, when I'm done working through your platform, we can get up to 50 to 55% identity resolution on the data that we already own?

Shaun Scott: Not the data you already own. We can identify 50% of your visitors. Some of those are going to be who you already own, your first-party data assets. Others will be considered quote, unquote prospects. We'll say unknown to you, but known to Merkle for activations. Like, for an example, direct mail campaigns, utilizing those, and prospects in direct mail campaigns, getting those out there. The big rage is triggered postcards. Those type of things of getting those out into a consumer's hands very quickly. So, that's a prospecting type of vehicle. Those types of things. That's where it's important to when we come to [00:12:00] those is we really want to talk about the person.

I don't want people to think you're taking a question that is frequently asked is tying IP address to a name and address. It's not like that. IP addresses is part of our kind of algorithms, you want to say, to identify a visitor, but it's not like we're taking an IP address and tying it to somebody's physical mailing address. There are companies out there that do it, but that's not how we work. We're identifying that person, taking that person, utilizing, and then tying them to a name and address file to get that person's address. So, when we identify someone, it's down at that person's individual household level.

Erik Martinez: I think that's a great clarification. So, in order for all this to work, what is the data collection process? What type of data is collected? You alluded to some types of attributes. How is it collected?

Shaun Scott: Sure, absolutely. So, we have a tag, like a lot of these [00:13:00] companies have tags on their website. Okay. We have a tag it's about 8 to 10 lines of JavaScript. It could go into the header of every webpage, or it can go into a compatible tag management system, like Google tag manager, Tealium tag manager, so on and so forth. That goes into there to load on all pages. Okay. How our tag works, to really get technical here, our tag fires asynchronously. So, what that means is that our tag waits for something in the DOM, in the digital area, like a DOM ready signal, for our tag to fire. Which means it waits for a page to load because we're not here to collect any data before the page loads otherwise we'll miss everything, so we're there. Typical data elements that are tag would just capture on its own are things like email address, if it's there, IP address, user agent, pages visited, other browser type meta keywords that are there.

Those types of things are used in identity resolution. Our tag, when it fires, places a [00:14:00] first-party cookie, which is a unique random generated identifier into the domain space of that place. That's a very important distinction. Today, with third-party cookies going away, our tag does not use a third-party cookie. It places a first-party cookie in the domain. So, that's very important because third-party cookies will no longer be allowed by Google Chrome in 2023, whenever that happens, but Apple Safari is already doing it.

So, hence where we talk about this cookieless type of environment. So, some of those browser level attributes are utilized in our cookieless environment to go ahead and to identify a visitor probabilistically. Hence, where the confidence scores come into play.

Erik Martinez: That is super helpful.

Tim Curtis: We've talked a lot about the identity graph in of itself, and you've just given an overview of what that process looks like. From where I sit, and speaking with a lot of clients, a lot of executives at the client level, you know, one of the things that comes up when you're talking about data collection, you're talking about first-party cookies, et cetera. You get into [00:15:00] any kind of conversation relative to privacy, and you begin to notice people get white knuckled. They get real nervous about privacy. There's a general lack of understanding about the privacy area. We're focusing on, for example, the California Consumer Privacy Act, CCPA, really was the initial thing here in the states that really kicked things into gear.

GDPR to the EU was watched by everybody. There was some compliance, but it was, again, it was a European Union driven privacy legislation. Now, we have privacy here in the states that's impacting how everyone is viewing the landscape. Fast forward, now, we have on the horizon, the California Privacy Rights Act, which dials up higher from the California Consumer Privacy Act, CCPA, the new CPRA gets into much more specifics about highly sensitive personal information. So, it categorizes them differently.

You make a very important distinction, and I think it's a distinction that oftentimes is missed, when Merkle/4Cite are [00:16:00] setting up this cookie-based process. It's on first-party data, which includes implied consent because they're coming to a website, but why don't you talk a little bit about your process, the privacy realm, and how your process ensures compliance with that. Just so that we can get everybody an understanding about what the privacy realm really is and why what you do is compliant.

Shaun Scott: Sure. Of course. Absolutely. We work with our clients prior to anything going on the site, and really work with them on the privacy policy and the CCPA, so I understand with the CPR A coming up and stuff. We tend to make changes as policy is written because it's like, what is basically put out there typically is not in the end bill, so we try to wait those things out. We work with what's there, but CCPA, a lot of the right to know, to delete, so on and so forth. The biggest thing is offering that consumer opt-out, and a lot of that is put on that website on the actual particular [00:17:00] client. Okay. So, we work with them on that to make sure that they have those pieces in place in their privacy policies. A lot of them do. They have like with the identifiers that they're utilizing today.

Okay. By default we could still continue to do that with CCPA, as long as we give the consumer a right to opt out. I believe the initial law was if you did $25 million in revenue within California, and you did California residents, you had to do it for California, but I think a lot of companies out there embraced and saying, yeah, we're just going to do it nationwide and just offer this out there. Just to get ahead of the curve because as we know, each state is doing different things, but the CCPA is basically working with the privacy policy and allowing, giving the company a mechanism, so when they get opt-outs and they verify that person or a delete or a right to know what data they have on them, that they verify who that person is. We give them a mechanism to come to us and whatever it may be, we opt them out of the the identity graph or we remove them from the [00:18:00] identity graph, so on, so forth, or we could produce what we have on them for that particular company.

If a consumer comes to us, then we do the same thing. We verify. We could go ahead and we could delete them from all of our stuff, we can give them here's what we know about you all across, or we can opt them out. Those types of things. So, we have the two different ways of doing it, and most of the time they come through the companies and then they filter down to us. Like, for an example, we offer processes where they could send us files on a daily basis to opt out, delete, right to know. Once they verify, or we have an actual, online form that can be submitted to us.

We have one client that they go ahead and they just type in that information, submits it to us and then it's taken care of that way. So, we offer a few different ways to get that, but the biggest thing is ensuring privacy policies is what is the use case? What are you doing with this? We like to look at it this way, I use the direct mail example. [00:19:00] If somebody has come to my site and it was identified, and then they got a mail piece, if they come back to my site and look at the privacy policy, does it state, like how did you get my information to send me a thing. That's what we want to have happen because you don't want any kind of gray area, you just want to say this is what I'm doing.

We see, with CCPA, a lot of companies out there are just putting things in their privacy policy to explicitly state what they're doing, which I think is a great thing. Instead of before where it was just, it's boiler plate. This is what we do, and it's actually a little more specific, which is great.

Tim Curtis: I think demystifying some of this surrounding the privacy policy, and I think understanding the power that first-party cookies is in this environment and why everyone needs to shift towards that first-party cookie. That's what's going to be more resilient in the longterm.

So, we talked a little bit about the identity graph itself, we've talked about the privacy policy, and I know certainly we have worked with you on a lot of cases with privacy [00:20:00] policy, client privacy policy, to ensure that everything there is stated and above board. You know, what I like to talk about now, and maybe pivot a little bit, is the why's, why utilize Merkle/4Cite to have this identity process? What is it about this process that is unique and why is it something that brands should really be paying attention to.

From my perspective, having worked with countless clients on this. To me, it is probably the single most important untapped element that a brand could tap in order to really transform their marketing. I don't mean to say that lightly. What we have seen the power of this data do is nothing short of extraordinary. It's some of the highest response rates we have seen, the highest incremental contribution to the bottom line we have seen. The impact, obviously, to dramatically increasing the amount of abandoned cart, abandoned browse emails, for example, that can be sent [00:21:00] out by a platform. So, let's talk a little bit about, here we are, post-COVID, we're in now, arguably the direct consumer environment, everything has shifted to selling directly to consumers. So, why now, why must we simply take action on these items we don't have the luxury anymore? What's your perspective?

Shaun Scott: Absolutely. I think that's a great lead into this because even during COVID I thought it was important because as we saw as a lot of the shift in online, and a lot of digital stuff was happening. We had some clients that their site traffic increased by 40, 50%. Look at it this way, you spend a lot of money marketing to individuals, a lot of money to drive them to the site to, ultimately, of course, place an order, which we know only 4 to 6% place an order. So, I look at it as a strategy, and you touched on a little bit. We could use the good old retail example, if you want to look at what are best ways to increase email revenue, typically, what do people look at? They [00:22:00] look at, oh, maybe I should send more emails. I need to get more personalized. I need to do this. I need to do that. What they always forget is we have an untapped resource on the site. I'm only identifying a certain percentage of people that visit my site.

So, if I'm only identifying 6% of those visitors to my site, that 94% opportunity are going to be some of their customers already and their abandoned carts, they are leaving without placing an order. They are browsing products. Those are those high value emails, those high value events. So, if you're able to identify more of those visitors, tie them to your first-party email universe that are opted in, you are going to send more emails and in turn, increase your revenue.

Typically, we average a 30% increase in triggered email revenue, which that's just an average. We've had some clients that when we've run tests, they've come to us. We've [00:23:00] seen a 100 to 300% increase in the amount of abandoned carts they could send to their customers because we can identify that many more utilizing our identity graph that we have because our core stuff was built retailers. That's a big thing. It's a consumer-based graph and understanding those visitors, tying them to your first-party data assets, and being able to send more of those customer triggered emails is the number one start. We see that in retail all the time. We do a lot of those tests, but there's also other pieces in play. Just think of this tag that we call the mercury or digital consumer recognition tag, DCR. Think of it as an enabler of all these different use cases. We talked earlier about CDPs and direct mail. We have all these things. We're able to connect via API connections real time.

So, if you're looking at this for an example, if you have a strategy of saying, I would like to acquire more email addresses in [00:24:00] 2022, everybody's going to say, let's do a light box. Everybody can do a light box. It's real easy, but can you do a light box based on the identity of the visitor? So, if you have somebody coming to your site, that is a customer, we see this a lot. Like, even you click through an email, nothing drives me more nuts than clicking through an email that they sent me and a light box appears asking for my email address. That's a constant. Okay. We see that constantly. That's just 101 site stuff. You shouldn't be doing that, but when you come to your consumer, and if that's a customer of yours already, do you really want to show them the light box? It's going to hurt their experience. Do you want light boxes popping up all over the place? Do you want a cadence off of those? If somebody doesn't engage with it today, do you want to wait 14 days? Those types of things. Capturing more email addresses, but also capturing the correct ones, because you want to also validate and verify those emails in real time, right?

If they're already your customer and they say they have a new device and the light box appears and they put in, is [00:25:00] there a mechanism to look up to see if they're already a customer? Why give them the offer if they're already a customer? Or what if they just type in, we see this a lot,, just to get the offer, you should be able to push back and say, Hey, something went wrong. Try that again.

Then, when they give you something, you want to verify that against the domains. Then all of a sudden, it's a real email address. Now you've got an email address. You can now insert into your email service provider, give them the offer, so on and so forth, testing into different pages.

Does somebody who abandons a cart, leaves, is not your customer, a light box appears. Would you like us to save your cart? I could tell you, on average, you get those abandoned cart emails for those people, typically, dollars per email go up 20%. They're going to order. The conversions go up a little higher because now they really want intent, they're really interested. They want that data. So, I look at identity digitally as a enabler of those strategies that you're putting forth to [00:26:00] enable those technologies that you put in all this money for. Like, I brought up in the beginning of the conversation because you want to filter more into those.

Erik Martinez: Everything you just talked about is about taking activity on your site and maximizing the opportunity on your site with your tools, with your customers versus going out to third-party display networks or retargeting in third-party events. You want to talk a little bit about the distinction between what we're doing on our site, with our customers, and our data versus going out to third-party display networks? Or are you sharing some of that information to follow people? I was sitting in a client meeting the other day and they kept using the word stalking, stalking customers.

Shaun Scott: Heard that before, and a lot of people that I talk to personally, when they ask what I do, they ask if I am that stalker. It's a weird thing for somebody to ask you, [00:27:00] but I am not. So, those third party cookies that's all driven by third-party cookies, a lot of those. Okay. That's going to be going away just because you're not going to be able to do that site to site type following as you said, because it's going to be gone. So, I'm talking about maximizing what you have currently, tying those to your customers, saying we have identified your customers. Let's maximize those. Now, you're talking about okay, some people that aren't our customers or they might be. There's some stuff you could do on your site to maybe get them some offer recommendations. You could do engagement bars, like modals, so on, so forth. Then maybe get them to convert.

Also, you know, when I talked about the larger mercury here, okay, with the identity, and we're talking about a person. We identify people down, an email and a person based ID. We call it a mercury ID. Okay. That is a person. The identity graph, when I say a person, our reference base is the entire US adult population 18 plus, over 242 million people.

Okay. [00:28:00] So, just think, when I got a person ID, now it's a person. So, when you do digital re-targeting, you're targeting a person. A lot of those following you around are typically cookies. So, when you're able to create these audiences when you're tying it with third-party data assets for different attributes, understanding who they are, creating lookalike audiences so on, so forth. Being able to send those out, Merkle has, you know, a publisher addressable marketplace that handles and uses our mercury ideas, the digital as the currency, and can pass that back.

So, get logs and stuff to go into clean rooms to go ahead and do that closed-loop reporting, but it's very important to being able to target to a person. At the end of the day, that's what you want and not a cookie. So, that's where the following around comes from, is typically those third-party cookies, which, as we know, Google Chrome is 2023 right now.

Erik Martinez: So, with that, we talked a little bit last week with Larry Kavanagh about this conversation. What happens to the display networks when this [00:29:00] transformation happens? What's your prediction?

Shaun Scott: I don't have a prediction for it. There's stuff Google's doing with first-party data only, doing the cohorts and things like that, that typically in the digital retargeting world is not my area of expertise. I feel the death of the third-party cookie is going to hurt a lot of businesses that rely on digital display and doing it that way. That's where I feel identifying those visitors on your site, tying them to a person, and being able to target them in different areas and basically where they want to be targeted and understanding the behavior, and then it ultimately, tying it back and collecting more first-party data is going to help. That's where I think businesses need to get is the importance of first-party data is going to be important. I also feel that the importance of any partnership, second-party partnerships is going to help. For an example, like hotels when they have a partner with credit cards, those types of partnerships and being able to help each [00:30:00] other when it comes to the identity and engagement, bringing that stuff together in clean rooms and so on and so forth.

I think that's going to be helpful. That's some of the stuff that, those are early conversations. I think that's where it's going to go is that you're going to see like second-party data becoming very important, but first-party data is always going to be king or queen and you want to collect as much as you possibly can and that's why you should be collecting it, though, but in a way that's going to be useful, not just collecting data. That's why I stress the importance of when you collect email addresses via light boxes, to make sure you have a mechanism to validate that because just collecting an email address doesn't mean it's an actual working email address.

Erik Martinez: I'm going to add a little more color to this conversation in that what I'm hearing you say, I think the first-party data collection, as you proposed it, is about, my words, not yours, optimizing what you have already and doing more with what you have already. That's really [00:31:00] seems to be the position that you're taking.

Shaun Scott: When it comes to a digital lens on the site. Yes. I don't think they're optimizing what they're currently doing.

Erik Martinez: Perfect. Then second-party partnerships or data relationships really hearkens back to me. This is my little direct mail 25, 27 years of experience in direct marketing coming into play, and saying, remember when the list brokers used to rule the world, right? Those were essentially relationships between company A and company B to help company A grow, right? Are you saying that the second-party relationships kinda like that? That you're starting to form these partnerships where there's two companies that are trying to benefit each other by sharing the collection of meaningful data that is applicable to that audience for both companies.

Shaun Scott: A hundred percent. It's already happening. There's companies all the time that partner together with, you know, you got insurance companies [00:32:00] partnering with other websites you know, and they all get data and all of this stuff. You've got other insurance companies, so on and so forth, it's already happening. You got like hotel and credit card information. You've got stuff like that's happening. But what we think, and we got experts in this within Merkle that could definitely talk to this more, is you know, bringing that data together in privacy safe environments cause that's where it's important, understanding those pieces.

 We want to make sure it's all privacy safe and not just talking about data sharing. I, Erik, and I appreciate where you're coming from too on the list broker side cause you're right, like you buy a list. I'm not sure how it would be like that. I'm sure there'd be other partnerships, but I think it's more of a direct connection between cause they already have partnerships already. You see it all the time when it comes to a hotel maybe with Amex, or airline with Visa, you know so and so forth. You see those partnerships happening. So, it's already happening, but I think you're going to see more and more of that where it's been going on for years, you're going to start seeing other companies start shifting into that as well.

I definitely feel the number one [00:33:00] priority is maximizing first-party on what you're doing on your site today because if you maximize that, you're already spending X marketing dollars to get people to your site. It costs you a lot of money to get a prospect to your site, whatever your cost per acquisition is there. If the goal is just to get them to the site that's that goal, but somebody else's goal to get them to convert. I think at the end of the day, everyone should have the same goal. You want to ultimately want them to convert, but you have to have something in there in between to help enable that. I feel understanding who that visitor is and things about them.

For an example, we didn't really talk about the real-time capabilities of this, of site personalization. When you're passing a person-based ID, like we have person-based ID tied to third-party data for different attributes of lifestyle attributes of passing that to their technology stack in real time to help them put content on the screen relevant to that visitor. That's another way of utilizing that data, of utilizing [00:34:00] identity and saying, I'm not saying maybe give them an offer, I'm saying maybe they come in and maybe you're, it's an insurance and maybe they're in the market for homes. So, show him something relevant to home, based on the data that we're presenting to you in real time. Now, what I'm saying is this is all done in like under a hundred milliseconds. So, it's all depending on what the technology platforms can handle on delivering that content back, but our tag, when it fires like that, it does that.

Erik Martinez: So, let's take that to the next logical thing. So, thank you for all those clarifications, and I wanted to make sure that people understood that because the third-party cookie's going way, that some of the other advertising opportunities are not going away. They're just changing in nature and how you go approach it.

So, the next logical question then is there's going to be a percentage of our audience that's already doing some of this stuff, has already started the process, but if they haven't, what in your opinion, are the first couple of steps? What are the [00:35:00] things that they can do today to start moving down this path, start this, again, my words, optimization process, because I just got super excited about that? I think that's a tremendous opportunity that we've all been dreaming about and talking about, and I think somewhere along the way, you know, we get focused on the shiny other thing, but the thing we do control is our environments, our properties, our data collection practices. We control that. So, that's a great place to start, but what are the steps? What's the first thing I should do?

Shaun Scott: I think take a look at your website and what disparate systems you have out there because a lot of it they don't talk to each other. So, first of all, what's the strategy from the top? What are we trying to do here? If you just want to say get started in taking a look and say, how many people come to my site? Can I actually tie to a person? Sometimes that number is hard because like people will talk on using Google analytics and so on and so forth, but that really at the end of the day, it's not [00:36:00] tying to a person. This is tying to Google says a new user based on their cookies, existing user cause they came back.

Now, I think you want to take a look at those and say, and sometimes it's hard to see, I sent out, we can start very easy if it's a retailer, I sent out 100 abandoned cart emails yesterday, but I had 10,000 visitors visits that abandoned a cart. Okay. Why did I only send out a hundred? Okay. Some of those probably aren't your customers. We already know that. Are you optimizing, and are you optimizing in the high value cause I like that word? Are you optimizing in those high value areas? Are you optimizing what you're doing on the site?

It takes your teams to work together, your marketing, your Ecommerce, they all have to be aligned on a goal like that. Because I look at this tag, it's a revenue generator. You put the tag on the site, we're going to help you generate revenue. We can actually put a dollar amount.

As Tim is aware, we can put a dollar amount to that tag. What's that value to you? I think that's important when it comes to it, because there's a lot of different things on your site that's running and people are [00:37:00] afraid cause you got, you know, IT with security and privacy, which they should be. We walk through that. Ecommerce, site degradation, and you hear that. Okay. Then we have those conversations. Marketing's like I just want to send out more of these emails. I need to hit numbers. How are we all gonna work together to get to there?

That's where I think the tag really helps cause then we end up having those conversations with all three groups. And it's always nice when they're all on the same call, because then you have them all talking and they all want the same goal because it works. It benefits everyone.

Tim Curtis: You know, that's one of the things that we do when we're working with the clients is pulling all of those different people within the technology stack, the email, the display partners, et cetera. Bringing them all together and utilizing the data, this new data that's coming from the identity resolution to really begin to activate and empower all these channels.

So, we're hitting on acquisition, we're hitting on retention, and then we're hitting on reactivation. So, it's really that holy trilogy [00:38:00] of marketing, where we're getting all three of those components working together across channels by leveraging identity resolution and pouring in this rich data into the customer data platform or the various vendors.

You're beginning to see the type of synergy and channel escalation strategy that can really unlock opportunities. We spend an awful lot of money, an awful lot of money digitally, to bring customers to a site and the identity resolution, including postal retargeting as an expression of that, allows for what I would call a safety net.

So, as people are going through that process, there are people who will simply fall through the process and will either not complete it, won't process a checkout, et cetera. This is an added layer that gives additional insights and gives opportunities for more conversion. It really is something that transforms, and I think, stepping back a bit in the conversation to the degradation of third-party cookies and why the digital advertising [00:39:00] space is becoming a much more challenged. You know, part of what made digital advertising so powerful and effective for so long is that it was a bit of the wild west. There was vast amounts of data and insights on an individual basis, and so you could very highly target individuals based on those attributes or that activity by degrading or removing the third-party cookies from the equation. It will complicate that. Yes, we will shift. Google will shift the first-party data, but there are going to be large gaps in the data that used to exist that fueled the digital advertising areas.

Now, I think what we have to stop and think about, it's not just the degradation of the third-party cookies, it's also the privacy changes, and I think a very important, a very devastating blow to the advertising world came from Apple and Apple's intelligent tracking prevention and the ability to now with the iOS [00:40:00] 15 to begin opting out of app data.

So, advertisers are no longer able to obtain that rich information that comes from those areas that are also feeding into the algorithm. So, it is really complicating things all the way around for digital advertising and it makes it much, much more difficult for those same advertisers to effectively target individuals.

The highest propensity for purchase is time on site. So, if you have visibility to someone who's on your site and they're browsing around, and then you have people who are not on your site and are not browsing around, the response mechanism for the two of them is going to be drastically different, and by leveraging this technology, you're going to be able to bring some of that into a more clarifying position. Because again, the privacy legislation, you've mentioned a couple of times, 2023, Google will be there on the third-party data, but Apple is continuing to carve out a space [00:41:00] in privacy. I think what will end up happening is the others will have to come along side where Apple is because they don't want to risk being tagged as the non privacy company, and Apple has very effectively, moved in that direction.

When you look at it from a brand perspective, it's daunting. We're beginning to hear, we've talked about this, clients who are having performance issues on strictly their paid advertising. They're not able to get the return that they once had, and there's some concerns about that. So, I think this distress, as you've said before here, the stress of you can't understate enough just how mission critical it is that brands begin to deploy more insights into that first-party cookie data. They begin building everything off first-party cookie data. If you don't do it, there is a high likelihood you will not survive. It's that imperative for brands to get on board, and there's a privacy compliant way to do it, but if they [00:42:00] don't, that is a huge roll of the dice. I just don't effectively see how brands will be able to continue without having embraced what a first-party cookie is, not in this world.

Shaun Scott: Agreed. I tell you that's a good, that's a good thing because what we talk about a lot is really building up, because when our tag we're talking about a first-party cookie, we actually build a private first-party graph. That's what we're doing and what we do better because we have the supplemental graphs as well, but we persist the data to that first-party graph.

So, when we're getting identity, we're persisting that to the graph and all that unknown signals, all of that type of data for that private and building up that graph, because it's going to ultimately help in the cookieless world too, as well, because we're going to have that rich set of data.

This is where we offer that kind of more. We'll talk about that more because these tech stack CDPs and all these things out there, they do things like [00:43:00] that, but they only do it based off of authentication. So, somebody has to go to a site and actually give their data for a CDP to save that and keep that. We have the supplemental graphs, which I hadn't really talked a lot about, but we're persisting these signals to a private first-party graph, so as you're building up your graph and these are going, you are going to be better set up when the third-party cookie goes away because those probabilistic signals have been building for we'll say a year now, if we did business for a full year in 2022. Now, because we have experience in this.

Apple Safari got rid of the third-party cookie 3 to 4 years ago. We didn't really get into this deterministic problems, we didn't get into a much. Probabilistic use to be like a dirty term and the digital identity people are like, I don't want any of that stuff. I want the deterministic that's who I think is there, but unfortunately we're going to get to a spot where it's going to be a lot more probabilistic cause it's a lot of the cookieless type things. Apple has [00:44:00] made changes. Server side tag management, okay, you talk about that, where first party cookie lasts a lot longer, if you do it on a JavaScript, it only lasts X number of days versus a server side.

These are the type of things that it's hard for brands to manage. We manage that. If they have to add that level, Tim to your point, level of complexity, to managing all their other pieces they got going on, it's just adding layers and layers to it. That's why when we're managing these grafts in a privacy safe way, with all of the new stuff coming out with Apple, these privacy regulations, so on so forth, it takes the pressure off the brand because we're reacting in real time to decisions made by Apple, by Google, by legislatures around the country.

We have to act in real time and brands can't act like that because they don't have dedicated people. They don't have the resources behind them, first of all, to build these graphs [00:45:00] and have all that other data, because brands, if they build an identity graph, a lot of them do. They can get you so far. They can get you to an X percent, but they don't have the additional data and the assets in that cookieless stuff that we do, a lot of that browser levels data, tied to a person, that we do. So, we can get them that extra incremental. That's the biggest piece here is incremental reidentification. That's a focus. That's a main focus and brands are starting to see the value in that as we continue to grow every year.

Tim Curtis: When you think about the comment about just the amount of effort that would have to go in on a brand side, if they decided well, you know what, we're going to do this internally, even if they farmed out just a portion of that identity graph. The challenge is that in today's post-COVID world, where now it's all about direct consumer, we have manufacturers who have historically only sold through 3PL and other outside brick and mortar are now going direct because they've recognized the [00:46:00] debate about going direct versus brick and mortar is effectively over in the boardrooms around the country. This environment that we're in requires a level of agility that has not been required before, and so the amount of effort, it's simply not possible for companies to really keep up with that to the degree that they need to. Internal procedures like that tend to get a little bit fossilized and it's just an internal bureaucracy.

So, by leveraging externally in some of these brands are able to flex and it gives them that, again, that agility that they've not necessarily had. So, that resonates with me because I see it time and time out, seeing where some of these stumbling blocks are and we're just now at a point in time where brands have to clear through those hurdles. They simply got to move through them if they're going to be successful.

Shaun Scott: As you can tell, I'm very passionate about digital identity cause I believe in this so much. I had this conversation six months ago with a very large retailer that we [00:47:00] have and they were talking, they had somebody new come and saying, why couldn't we do this ourselves? So, we did some presentation where we said, here's what we're seeing. We broke down the identity, in what we call observed identity, which is click through of an email. Somebody gives identity on the site, and then we said, okay, here's where our graphs are giving you. So, you can get to this X percentage. You could do that yourself, which I believe was about 34%. Okay. Which is a lot if they average 30 million visits a month. So, that's a lot, but with the graphs, we got you to 64%. That's like a 90 something percent lift in incremental identification.

That's the part that we stress, and the real-time functionality of it. In all the different use cases we can enable doing it. I know I talked about email and a light box. Those are just easy to talk to, but just think of a use case, whether it's prospecting and you want to really prospect retargeting and direct mail, or you want to do some digital retargeting [00:48:00] and you want to do site personalization, you want to do prospect emailing or whatever that may be, or you want to enhance and optimize your customer programs that you're currently doing off the site. That's where we enable, in those types of things, via API connection, be able to do that with your email service provider.

Tim, as you're well aware, that's what we do. We talk about this stuff a lot of times, Tim, our teams, we talk with a lot of your clients about that. Also with these CDPs, these real-time integration, I'm working on one right now for a real time site personalization, where we're feeding mercury person based ID with our data source, Merkle's data product, attributes feeding their CDP in real time for site personalization, help them build profiles to put relevant content on the screen all in real time.

So, it's all these different pieces. It's just so cool where we're at, but I think we're at a critical point in time with a lot of brands because [00:49:00] they need to do this, or they could start to see issues in their marketing programs. That's where we try to help them build up these graphs and doing it in that privacy safe way, but also in the deterministic and probabilistic world.

I know, I talked about confidence scores. You could go out and do identity resolution, and somebody is going to say, here's a match rate. Here you go. What we do is we're going to go ahead and give you that transparency of that confidence score of a 1 through 8, 1 being best, 8 being good. We say use them all, but actually for different marketing programs, if you want to go ahead and segment out. Typically, like if you look at it in the modeling world, however you want, cause those are all different levels of confidence on that match.

As the identity space and as we grow and as the tag, cause it's all machine learning and so on and so forth, as that gets smarter, as the tags on the site longer, somebody may go [00:50:00] from we're confident of a 5. The next time they visit, because we might have a couple more things, they might go up to a 2. So, those types of things, and we're persisting that for them to be able to use in different brands and doing that, whether it's sending data to a clean room to bring altogether, we build audiences out of that for different things, or informing a CDP, or the other piece is, matching, when we do a lookup to customers, we call it email activation where if I can tell you that this is your customer, I can pass some sort of a unique customer ID for you in real time to go ahead and supplement all your other marketing use cases. That's the important piece of understanding the incrementality that you have and the value that brands will see and are we the end all or either like the silver bullet? No, we're just a cog in that wheel for part of that strategy that I think is needed in today's environment because it's constantly changing.

Erik Martinez: So, Shaun, [00:51:00] when you start working with a new client, what does that conversation look like when they're saying, hey, I am super excited about this, I want to start today? What conversations do you have with them about use cases? What steps do you guys take to get them onboarded and started down this path?

Shaun Scott: Sure. Typically, there's a business problem they want to solve for, so we start there with the use case, but we kind of walk through like, this is what we do, who we are, why we do it, how we do it, all the use cases we enable, now let's talk about what your business problem is. We can look at maybe some sort of pilot of proof of concept, 60, 90 days, depending on what we're looking to do. Once we work through privacy, things like that, we start the work streams, the different work streams.

To be honest with you, like with a tag, let's say, for an example, we'll just throw a use case out there. Say it's triggered email. We just want to send more abandoned cart emails to your customer. That's that's a very common one for retail. Tag, if we could connect the API to your email service provider and [00:52:00] we set up your business rules, that roughly takes about two weeks. After all said and done after all the contracts, and everything's all worked through, two weeks. Working with the different teams and it's all different work streams, so we could do the tag and the email universe all is separate work stream, run parallel to each other. You know, the business rules, we have to wait to those other two things are done and then we can start testing and triggering via the API into the DSP, cause you probably already have some sort of email template that's running abandoned cart programs. So, would just match what you're doing today, and we'll just provide you more. We've seen that up and running in live within three weeks, and no changes had to be done on the client's end because they've already been doing it. We're just feeding them more. They just have to turn off their current filter into the template and we just provide all the data into there and the DSP takes it from there.

Erik Martinez: So, what I just heard you say was, and I think this is important for the audience, small incremental steps don't take that long for you to start moving down this path. As a very first step, you can start with your abandoned cart [00:53:00] program or your abandoned browse program and get that going within a month. Even the worse case, a month, and get this process started today because we are up against the deadline. Safari's already there. Google's going to be there. Firefox is there. We're running up against a deadline and as marketers, we need to make these transitions now.

Shaun Scott: Agreed. It all starts at the top too, having those executive level conversations and you get the buy in from the marketing leaders and so on and so forth. We can do it, get up and running fairly quickly, depending on the use case, and it's all on how quickly the client wants to run. Sometimes we can go fast, but the clients is not ready to go that fast. They're just like, we got some changes happening right now, so we need to slow this back a little bit, which is not a problem. We work at the pace that's available for the client. The ultimate goal is to say, we just want you to recognize more revenue. So, that's why I say 90 days to run, like some sort of pilot on that is good because, you know, you'll [00:54:00] start seeing some of that revenue and to justify the cost.

Erik Martinez: Well, that's fantastic. We want to be respectful of your time, but before we go, just a couple of short questions for you. One is, if there's one piece of advice, and it could be on any topic, it doesn't have to be on identity resolution, even though that's the topic of the day. If there's any piece of advice you'd like to leave an audience with today, what would it be?

Shaun Scott: Oh, I could bring it back around and say Patrick Mahomes, is never down in the middle of the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, but we'll save that for another one cause I'm a 49ers fan.

Erik Martinez: Go Chiefs!

Shaun Scott: I'm almost over it, but, um, no, I honestly think it's just taking a look at you at your business, and you know, making sure that it makes sense for you. What are you looking at? Let's take a look at the site and what you're currently doing because sometimes what you're currently doing is you're driving the traffic that you want, but you're just not optimizing on the site of identifying those people.

I appreciate the optimization work, but sometimes people take that as like site optimization and that's not what this is. [00:55:00] It's more along the lines of being able to identify those visitors and just understanding who's coming to your site, what they're doing to be able to better communicate with them. At the end of the day, that's what we want to see because we want to basically get those shoppers and increase revenue for you.

Erik Martinez: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Shaun Scott: That's what I would say. Take a look at what you're doing today and say, where are our gaps? Where can I be better? A lot of times identity is one of them. Identity will get you so far what you're doing, but you may need to get farther. If you're not getting to at least 50%, I would have a conversation.

Erik Martinez: That's great advice, and my advice for the 49ers is just resurrect Joe Montana.

Shaun Scott: Yeah.

Erik Martinez: If somebody wanted to get ahold of you, what's the best way to reach out to you?

Shaun Scott: Sure. You could look at my LinkedIn, you know, Shaun Scott, SHAUN SCOTT. You can also contact me via email at shaun.scott@ It's Shawn, SHAUN dot Scott, SC OTT at 4cite, 4CITE [00:56:00] dot com.

Erik Martinez: Great. Shaun, thank you so much for...

Tim Curtis: Yeah, Thank you.

Erik Martinez: ...for your time today. That was a very illuminating discussion.

Tim Curtis: Sharing the secret sauce for 2021 and beyond.

Shaun Scott: I certainly hope some people you know, learned something today, and any questions you know I'm happy to help answer.

Erik Martinez: Well, awesome. That's it for today's episode of Digital Velocity.

I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine,

Tim Curtis: and I'm Tim Curtis from CohereOne.

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