Experian Builds A New Link In Data Chain

rick erwin experianExperian Marketing Services introduced a persistent identification service into its Marketing Suite product line on Wednesday. The OmniView service is designed to combine marketer-owned login identities into a single, core identifier.

It combines the company’s various linkage solutions (i.e., connecting email addresses with in-store shoppers) and also includes data cleansing and the ability to strengthen first-party data with Experian’s data sets.

But OmniView is also different from what Experian used to provide because it incorporates the ability to link digital media identifiers, said Rick Erwin, president of the company’s consumer insights and targeting division.

“Other linkage capabilities we’ve offered in the past have primarily been built for the single channel of database marketing,” he said. “We had to expand the match logic capability of the service. If this was 10 years ago, we would have been mainly interested in terrestrial address and maybe terrestrial phone number and email.”

Experian isn’t the only purveyor of offline and email data trying to boost its presence in digital channels. Its rival Epsilon bought ad tech company Conversant a little more than a week ago (to be more precise, Epsilon’s parent Alliance Data Services bought it), inheriting Conversant’s persistent identifier Common ID.

Now Experian has released its own identifier with OmniView, a development Erwin said has been a few years in the making.

“[It was] an enormous amount of work,” Erwin said. “This has to work at scale and be extremely accurate. We also had to accommodate for the fact that in digital media, the size of data files is orders of magnitude greater than in an offline marketing world. Those are two aspects that had to be rebuilt from the ground up.”

Experian has “hundreds of clients” using its linkage technologies who will, if they choose, be migrated onto OmniView. An Experian spokesperson also said its linkage technologies process 3.5 billion records a month for its North American clients, not including records processed by its AdTruth subsidiary.

AdTruth creates a universal ID designed to connect user activity across devices that Experian inherited when it acquired its parent, 41st Parameter, last October. It is not part of the OmniView platform because, Erwin said, AdTruth has product developments of its own “in the coming months, maybe coming weeks.”

As Experian describes it, AdTruth is an identifier that links activity across devices; OmniView is “customer-based,” connecting various offline, email and digital interactions.

While these capabilities aren’t mutually exclusive and are often complementary, as it stands, OmniView can make connections across devices as long as the information needed to do so is already held in its clients’ first-party data stores.

“[We built OmniView to connect] any form of digital identifier that carries with it customer behavior data [advertisers own],” Erwin said.

Does this make OmniView a data-management platform (DMP)? Erwin said no – at least, not in the sense that a DMP traditionally combines third-party data sets for audience targeting. But if a DMP is a tool that connects disparate consumer logins and identities stored by an advertiser, then OmniView fits the bill.

“We didn’t set out to create a compiled third-party database that connects all of these things,” Erwin said. “We set out to create a system that can take all forms of digital identity, ingest them and resolve them back to an anonymous persistent identifier.”

With this initiative, Experian hopes to seize an opportunity and capitalize on a disconnect between marketing and ad tech, wherein one set of applications doesn’t always speak to the other. “One of the things that’s clearly missing is some of the tools and techniques that allow advertisers to do what classical one-to-one marketers have done for a long time,” Erwin said.

This isn’t for lack of trying.

Adobe has an application called Media Optimizer within its marketing cloud, but it’s mostly for paid search. Salesforce.com didn’t seem to have a strategy until Tuesday, when it unveiled a data-sharing partnership with holding company Omnicom’s analytics arm, Annalect. And Oracle, with its BlueKai acquisition, seems to be positioning itself to enable better connections between marketing software and ad software, though it’s unclear how well it can currently execute on that potential.

Correction 9/24: An original version of this article described AdTruth as a "mobile mega-cookie." An Experian spokesperson said "AdTruth is a device recognition technology that creates a universal ID. It can be used with cookies in place to ensure persistency but part of what’s great about the technology is that it works on devices in which cookies are disabled." The article has been amended.

 

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