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What is Identity Stitching and Why Should Marketers Care?

What is Identity Stitching and Why Should Marketers Care?

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Remember that shirt you saw online last week and meant to buy, but forgot to click through at the checkout?

It happens! Maybe you got distracted, and meant to buy it later. But in the meantime, you’ve started seeing ads for that exact shirt, all over the web.

And over time, if you look closely, those ads might start to connect. Someone with similar characteristics to you is wearing that shirt and doing activities you love. Clearly, that shirt really would be perfect for your barbecue next week… so you decide to click back to your cart, or drop into the nearest store, and make the purchase.

So, what’s going on here?

Not only do you now have an amazing new shirt (it looks great on you by the way), but you’ve just had a first-hand experience of identity stitching.

From a customer perspective, when done wrong, this experience can be offensive or off-putting; when done OK, it may still feel creepy; but when done well, it can surprise and delight.

From a marketer’s perspective; while you may know this process as re-engagement, what’s happening is a much more complete collation of identity across different online platforms and sources; designed to create truly relevant, accurate and personalized experiences, wherever your customers choose to be online.

In short, identity stitching – also known as user stitching – is a process that collates and ties – or stitches – together matching identifier data (such as device IDs, email addresses, and address information) to create a unified view of the consumer. It also adds attributes to build a complete, anonymized picture of someone’s preferences, using their activity across online touchpoints.

Without that step into identity, that shirt ad might have been completely wrong – it might have shown the wrong product, to someone who would never use it, and not resonate at all; a nightmare for audiences and advertisers alike!

Why Does Identity Stitching Matter?

Achieving audience relevance is why prioritizing identity should be on every marketer’s to-do list. After all, think about how many different devices we each use in a day.

From smartwatches to tablets, laptops, mobiles, Smart TVs – that’s a lot of fragmented activity across numerous platforms. And when you consider that we’re not always logged in to every device all of the time, recognizing an individual’s preferences from one place to another becomes hard. It’s even worse when we consider shared devices!

Add the death of third-party cookies to that mix; and marketers and advertisers are looking at a pretty confused ad landscape. However, identity solutions, and identity stitching as a part of them, offer a fix.

If you can map identifiers together, you can start to understand that the person who browsed your website today is the same person who added that (amazing) shirt to their cart on your mobile app last week—even though they didn’t log in and identify themselves.

From there, you can also start to combine other insights to bring that identity to life. Maybe that same person also watches a certain kind of show on their Smart TV. Or maybe they’re searching on their tablet right now for barbecue tongs and sunglasses – that shirt might just be a great party piece – making it the perfect moment to engage with a relevant ad.

Of course, every use case will be unique. But done well, identity stitching works to create a complete 360° view of people in the moment; allowing you to really personalize how and where your brand connects with people.

People-first identity

Identity done well is not only about ‘right ad, right person, right time’. It goes much further than that!

Today, each member of your audience expects you to be able to recognize them as an individual, and consider their context wherever and however they choose to engage. Recognition needs to be unified, fluid, accurate – and not hold its foundation in third-party cookies – to create truly outstanding, personalized experiences.

That means it’s not all about the clicks. Advertising today should be about creating connected, human journeys that build trust and mutually beneficial relationships between people and the brands they love.

Doing that means taking a people-first approach to identity, to account for an individual’s full context, at every touchpoint.

For example; not only do you need identity to recognize that a person was going to purchase that (really, very stylish) shirt, you need it to recognize their history with your brand, to consider how, where and why they’re engaging, and to intelligently support decisions into what action, offer, or communication you should provide them, in that moment.

The Identity Ecosystem

Of course, no single identifier can support an exact understanding of an individual. And that’s why identity stitching is an important part of the connected identity ecosystem.

Stitching alone has some limitations. An identifier could be incorrect or have gone out of date; such as a mistyped email address, or if an individual has recently changed their name. Here, identity hygiene solutions are needed to cleanse and update insight.

Identity stitching alone also only solves for deterministic identifiers. That’s where identifiers are 100% certain and can be matched to an identity, such as a logged-in username or hashed email.

Advertisers need to account more widely for probabilistic identifiers, which are used when deterministic insight is missing. These might include indicators such as IP addresses, or time-stamps to take a high-probability, ‘educated guess’ at connecting identity to an individual. It means a wider identity graph is needed to unify the identity.

Typically, identity stitching is one element of a complete first-party identity graph solution. It enables true identity resolution by stitching together identifiers to ensure data hygiene, and collate and maintain an up-to-date, unified and real-time record of audience profiles, and behavior data.

Using identity stitching as an element of a wider first-party identity graph solution is also necessary when you want reach beyond one single individual. Looking to understand every member of a household? You need identity stitching.

At Kinesso, we help brands share their stories through connected intelligence; using advanced and adaptable technology solutions to help you build stronger connections with your audience.

Identity is just one part of that ecosystem; find out how you can unlock that intelligence today.

The Advantage of Identity

What has identity ever done for us?

Well, aside from matching amazing shirts with the people who want them, the benefits of identity stitching – and complete identity solutions – are wide-reaching.

For advertisers and audiences alike, identity enables a single view of a person across touchpoints to support:

  1. Context-aware, respectful marketing
    Create a holistic view of who a person truly is, recognize them as an individual (rather than as a segment or target group) and consider their context – and you’ll be able to reach them based on their unique activity, needs and wants, rather than on assumption.
  2. Relevant, personalized experiences
    With a complete identity solution in place to solve for resolution, hygiene, stitching and more – marketers and advertisers can fill the gaps in audience knowledge and create truly personalized experiences across channels that account for individual preferences and foster deeper connections.
  3. Accurate attribution, intelligent decisions
    Think about all of the identifying signals a single member of your audience generates throughout a day. From clicks on ads, to engagements with emails using different email addresses, to search queries, page views, transactions… they’re busy people!
    Accounting for all those signals, across devices, and at scale, is hard. Identity solutions help to map and attribute those identifiers, helping you not only recognize your audience, but analyze those journeys, channel effectiveness and more – to build relevant, effective campaigns.
  4. Control, compliance and privacy
    Offering consistency and compliance across an advertising landscape that’s fast evolving, identity solutions are a privacy-compliant way to collate, update, enrich and activate data (PII and non-PII) across platforms.
    Considering privacy especially, having a solution ready in the face of the decline of third-party cookies, is key to maintaining a compliant solution and retaining relevant connections with your audience.
    Ensuring fair, compliant and ethical data use must always be a priority; from both legislative and consumer expectation perspectives. Complete identity solutions are built with that consideration top-of-mind; to ensure privacy by design in every scenario.

Identify your identity needs

At Kinesso, we work to bring flexible, untapped access to your audience across every touchpoint, helping you identify, recognize and connect with them as individuals.

Helping you unlock the borders between your media, paid, and direct mail, in a channel-agnostic way, we work to truly solve addressability so you can deliver seamless, relevant and respectful interactions that meet expectations, everywhere.

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