A Primer on Data Onboarding

Marketing Innovation

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A Primer on Data Onboarding

Marketing Innovation

How to Activate Your Offline Data in a Digital World 

By Dan Scudder, VP of BD & GM, LiveRamp & David Wiener, Director of Product & Platform Strategy, BlueKai

There’s tremendous buzz today around the benefits of activating your offline marketing data throughout your online marketing channels. But what exactly does this mean and how do you do it?  This article, co-written with BlueKai, will help you understand the benefits of leveraging offline data, how the match process works, as well as privacy considerations around offline data.

Offline marketing data is information that resides in a company’s CRM system and generally contains business-critical information about customers and prospects that has been curated over time by marketers. While tremendously powerful from a targeting perspective, this class of data sits offline, and has been difficult to connect to online users in an effective way that also respects consumer privacy.

Data onboarding, also known as offline matching, is a service that brings offline data (such as CRM data) online. There are a few vendors who provide this today, and once offline data is integrated into a digital marketing strategy and available within a powerful Data Activation Platform, it can dramatically improve cross-channel marketing insights and attribution, deliver a full 360-degree customer view, expand target audience size and enhance campaign performance. Data onboarding is a capability soon to be found in every smart marketer’s toolbox.

What is data onboarding, and who must be involved?

In order to bring CRM data online, a “match” must be made between the offline user profile and the online presence of that user. In the offline world, email address, physical address, phone number, and name are common ‘unique’ identifiers. In the online world, the common identifier used is a cookie – an anonymous text file that sits in a user’s browser. Onboarding is the process by which this match occurs.

When a marketer wants to bring their CRM data online, they work with an onboarding provider who has a large network of web publishers, such as LiveRamp. These publisher networks are built by partnering with website operators who collect contact information on their sites– for instance, sites where users need to register in order login or transact. When a user logs into a site on the network, a lookup is done against the match-file. If that user is found within the match file, the onboarding provider will set an anonymous cookie that is shared with the data activation platform, completing the “match”.

There are a handful of data onboarding providers, and each differs in terms of match technique and quality. Key characteristics to gauge when working with a match partner are: match rate, accuracy, and integration speed (all critical components of the match process):

Match Rate: typically measured as a percentage of the CRM file that was matched.  While match rates will vary based on vertical and onboarding provider, general industry averages are between 30-40%.

Accuracy: measured based on how often the onboarding provider finds the correct match between the offline contact information and the online user. Trade-offs are often made between match rate and accuracy depending on the marketer’s appetite for false positives in their online audience.  When accuracy is of paramount concern, working with an onboarding provider like LiveRamp that has a transparent match process and a particular focus in this area is recommended.

Integration: turnaround time on the match is important – some providers like LiveRamp can do it in a week and have cookie pools available instantly via server-side integrations, while others may take 30-60 days. Because of cookie churn and aging, matching is an ongoing program that marketers commit to – poor integration quality will plague the data onboarding process.

Data privacy is of utmost importance in the matching process. Any company working with consumer data must be dedicated to security, anonymity, privacy, and transparency. Data management companies should be proven innovators in the consumer privacy space and make that a central tenant of everything they do. Both BlueKai and LiveRamp have taken this to heart, partnering closely with the IAB, DAA, and DMA, providing industry thought-leadership, enforcing strict privacy standards, and developing pro-transparency, pro-privacy products. A privacy-centric approach to CRM data activation is mandatory – full stop, no exceptions.

Partnership with a Data Activation Platform

While the onboarding provider is an important decision, it is critical that the data platform which ultimately receives the online audience has cutting edge technology to make it happen. BlueKai has recently developed a new capability which is an offline data process that allows marketers to run campaigns based on CRM data with nearly no ramp-time. It stores user information server-side instead of client-side, making the data instantly available for use without BlueKai having to “see” the user online before a campaign can be conducted. It removes the onboarding latency, fully ramping campaigns within 24-48 hours (a 60x speed increase compared to most other data platforms).

What are the benefits of data onboarding?

Marketers can leverage their decades of investment in time, resources, and money to building robust CRM databases.  By activating this data digitally, marketers can see the full 360-degree view of their customers, drive smarter marketing decisions online and offline, and leverage a much richer data profile on users. Aside from simply targeting online users with data created offline, CRM data can be modeled to drive additional value to a marketer. Centralizing, normalizing, and activating both offline and online data assets with a trusted data onboarding provider and data activation platform allows marketers to speak to consumers with a consistent tone and a relevant message across all media platforms, and measure the cross-channel effectiveness of their campaigns.

For more information about the partnership, please complete the form on the right. To learn more about choosing a Data Activation Platform or a Data Onboarding provider, please contact Bluekai or LiveRamp.