TechBytes with Devon DeBlasio, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Neustar

TechBytes with Devon DeBlasio, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Neustar
TechBytes with Devon DeBlasio, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Neustar

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Neustar.

I am a Product Marketing Director at Neustar. Neustar is a trusted, neutral provider of real-time information services and the leader in Marketing Intelligence, Customer Identity Resolution and Unified Measurement for Fortune 500 brands. Identity is our enterprise heritage: We’ve grown up an Identity company. We power 85% of the U.S. Caller ID. We handle global DNS as well as risk and fraud prevention. We support 10 out of the 10 largest U.S. banks, 5 out of the 5 largest U.S. cable companies, and 3 out of the 5 largest U.S. health insurers as well as leading brands across every vertical globally. Neustar Marketing Solutions, the business unit that I support, harnesses the power of intelligent trusted identity to help brands accurately identify their customers and prospects, create spectacular customer experiences and measure the impact of their marketing across all channels both online and offline.

What is the current definition of Identity Resolution Management?

Identity Resolution is the process of integrating multiple identifiers across all available touchpoints and devices with behavioral, transactional, and contextual information into a cohesive and addressable consumer profile. Identity resolution is the connective tissue that links the offline and digital world across a customer’s journey to produce a single source of persistent truth. Managing identity requires consolidating, normalizing, and deduplicating customer records while enriching consumer profiles with robust intelligence. It also requires maintaining a secure and privacy-safe environment that ensures holistic consent and compliance management.

How can marketers leverage identity linkages to obtain true Identity Resolution?

Identity resolution is a subset of Entity Resolution—the field of AI that allows systems to distinguish one thing from the next. Formally, entity resolution seeks to determine whether or not different entity representations, such as cookies or device IDs, correspond to the same real-world entity, for example, a person or a household. In real-life terms, it enables a self-driving car to tell a standing pedestrian from an oncoming bus, or a photo application to tag a person’s face in any photo, even as that person’s expression changes. For marketers the use of customer Identity Resolution allows them to match each customer’s many identifiers (or signals) into accurate linkages and then connect those linkages to larger identity clusters. These clusters are constellations of identifying information that create a more complete picture. Once this persistent and accurate picture has been formed it can be used to activate and measure people-based marketing across the customer journey.

Which leading Identity approach (i.e. deterministic or probabilistic) is the most accurate?

Accurate identity resolution is fundamental to Marketing. And yet, while the deterministic, probabilistic, and simple hybrid approaches all achieve a degree of success in providing accurate, scalable Customer Identity, our tests reveal that they each fall short in achieving a customer-centric approach to Marketing and Analytics. Neustar Federated Identity; a new approach that builds identity clusters from the ground up, using only the validated linkages, seamlessly integrating deterministic and probabilistic sets of identity. The result is uniquely accurate and scalable and provides a view of customers across platforms, devices, and into the real world producing higher match rates, more personalized and relevant engagement, and more accurate measurement of marketing performance across channels. This vastly reduces the problems of data loss and missed connections that the other methodologies suffer from enabling our clients to accurately identify and observe customer actions and responses across the customer journey.

Measuring the impact of every addressable touch across that journey. It enables marketers to personalize the experience, including coordinating creative from one channel to the next. In the anonymous world, it provides brands with the ability to build and engaging more effective audiences, based on observations about how existing customers behave across the journey—coupled with demographic and psychographic data about who those best customers are and what they are looking to buy. Neustar’s Federated approach supports and boosts data stewardship, privacy, and compliance – while reducing risk and waste providing the connective tissue across the organization – silos, lakes, systems

What role does data play in obtaining Identity Resolution?

As I mentioned above, data is the most crucial component to not only resolving identity correctly but also, accurately and successfully using that data downstream. That is why it is so important to first evaluate the strength and the validity of your own first-party data which are the essential building blocks of true and accurate Identity Resolution. If you don’t truly know who your customers are, not to mention identifying your ‘best’ most high-value customers, how can you effectively engage with more of the same? While the quality of the data sources used to increase scale and provide insight are important, your first-party data is the lifeblood of your enterprise. There are many other data assets that need to be used to power Identity Resolution. Neustar uses a repository of what we call authoritative identity data, data from institutions that make it their business to know who a person is at any point in time.

For example, a bank or utility company who relies on accurate and up-to-date identity data to verify a credit card transaction or allows you to pay a bill with little to no friction. These authoritative sources are the first step in validating the data you have on your customers. Once you have that complete and accurate view other data sources such as panel-based behavioral, demographic, or psychographic data can be used to segment and score your customers based on their intent to purchase, buying behaviors, household makeup, and various other characteristics that help identify the why behind a purchase or conversion. Additional third-party data is also important when scaling identity data for acquisition purposes. First, second, and third-party data can be combined to build and activate targeted audiences across channels and touchpoints. The quality, source, and efficacy of the data used at every point along the marketer’s journey are all crucial to the effectiveness and efficiency of each experience delivered.

How critical is Identity to an organization?

Neustar believes Identity is the key to meaningful, customer-obsessed Marketing. Getting identity right is of the utmost importance for any B2C organization because anything you do after that will be directly impacted by the quality and accuracy of that identity data. Without an identity, you are limited to the data you receive at the point of sale or conversion. Maybe just a phone number and a name or an email address and a cookie – that is not enough information to identify that customer if they engage with you in a different way. With identity, you can fill in those gaps to build a complete picture that changes with your customers over time along their journey.

Without identity, your CRM system is only as good as the data you’ve collected from your customers. But when so many of us provide the wrong email to avoid marketing or change our address or phone number, your CRM system suffers creating a bloated, overworked, and inaccurate system of record that is costly cumbersome to manage not to mention providing bad intelligence for your downstream marketers. With Identity, you can refresh and repair your CRM system continuously. You can accurately connect fragmented linkages while removing duplicate profiles or inaccurate data keeping your CRM fresh reducing data management and housing costs while simultaneously providing your marketers with higher quality data for cross-channel marketing.

Without Identity, you aren’t able to connect physical and digital signals from your customers. How can you deliver an omnichannel experience if you don’t have an omnichannel view? You will neither be able to engage with the same customer both on their work computer or home computer nor will you be able to an offer via direct mail that reflects the products that were purchased in-store. With identity, you are able to build a persistent and holistic view of your customers by combing CRM data with media channel exposure, website engagement, and transaction-level data allowing you to uncover who your best customers are and why. Use this rich intelligence to tailor the creative design and messaging based on what you know about your customers and then deliver those messages across the channels that they are most receptive to.

Attribution measurement requires a complete and accurate dataset across all channels. Without Identity any model built will be missing valuable pieces of intelligence to accurately understand and evaluate your impact on the customer’s journey potentially resulting in millions of dollars in lost sales not to mention severely inefficient media planning. Attribution with identity allows you to build complete and accurate models with an understanding of the entire customer journey. The result is better media efficiency, optimized spend on media, and accurate calculations for instrumentality and LTV.

Accurate targeting requires knowing how and when your customers want to be engaged. If you don’t have an accurate understanding of your core customers any audiences built to target more of the same will be missing the mark. Targeting with Identity provides an accurate baseline that you can build your look-alike models on top of. It helps you better understand the who, the what, the why, and the where of your best customers so you can efficiently find more of the same.

How do you leverage Neustar’s Identity Resolution features to solve customer’s challenges?

You need a connected intelligent system, grounded in identity, to do real identity-based marketing – one that is holistic, integrated, actionable and accurate. All of Neustar’s solutions share the same base of Identity and are integrated end-to-end so that clients can effectively build a single persistent view of their customers to power their Marketing from Acquisition to Retention. Using Neustar’s Federated Identity Resolution, our clients can plan and execute marketing strategies and measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns across multiple channels with advanced Marketing Analytics, Custom Segmentation, and Media Optimization. Marketers also use our omnichannel workflow solutions to tailor their media spend, efficiently reach specific audiences, and measure campaign performance at the audience level, not just devices or channels.

We enable our clients to use cross-channel identity to inform and improve their Marketing decisions while providing a consistent and accurate measurement that provides the granular insight to drive continual optimization and refinement. This fidelity of identity, without the hops and handoffs that degrade the customer experience, fuels better Marketing and Business results.

Do you leverage AI ML algorithms at Neustar? If yes, tell us more about your AI Research and Analytics.

Neustar uses AI to find patterns in probabilistic signal to calculate linkage strength, determine the real accuracy of deterministic linkages, and intelligently combine linkages to form accurate clusters. Neustar has years of critical experience in all forms of Identity and Entity Resolution models and approaches. Our federated approach essentially calls for doing the work of not one, but multiple identity providers: acting as a deterministic provider, a probabilistic provider, and a third operator that tests all linkages for accuracy and connects the linkages together. This takes an enormous amount of computing power. In particular, it takes extremely sophisticated Machine Learning to find patterns in the probabilistic signal to calculate linkage strengths as well as determine the real accuracy of the deterministic linkages, as well as intelligently combine linkages to create accurate clusters.

What does it take for an organization to build true Customer Intelligence?

True Customer Intelligence requires a holistic view of the customer’s journey both offline and online. It requires a single source of truth that connects disparate data silos and systems into a persistent customer profile affixed to a single customer ID. To ensure the data operates at its maximum potential the identity data must be constantly repaired and enriched to maintain that accurate view. With a complete understanding of their best customers using segmentation and scoring techniques to measure propensity and intent, brands can deliver more personalized and relevant experiences to the prospects that matter most. To further optimize customer intelligence marketers must connect advanced analytics solutions to their customer-centric marketing tactics to accurately measure incrementality and LTV which will allow analysts to optimize the impact of all marketing activities.

True customer intelligence takes everything you know about your customers to create compelling and effective marketing experiences across the customer journey. It also allows for accurate measurement of those experiences to ensure constant optimization of both retention and acquisition marketing. With a single persistent view across touchpoints, marketers can more effectively target, engage, and convert customers and prospects to drive ROI.

How do you differentiate between various data points- Audience, Customer, Intent, Sentiment, and Big Data?

Big Data is the overarching collection of consumer and customer data points that fuel the customer-centric marketing that our clients are focused on executing across all touchpoints. Their data-driven customer-centric marketing relies on these various data points including first, second, and third-party customer and consumer-level data. This data can be used to build unique and predictive audiences that evaluate various signals and scores inclusive of intent, sentiment, and incrementality to tailor the right message to the right consumer on the right channel at the right time.

Many of our clients start with their own first-party customer data housed in one or multiple CRM systems that include such identifiers as name, address, phone, and email. This data needs constant repairing, deduping, and enriching to maintain an accurate and compliant view of their customers. We help our clients segment their customer base looking for patterns in the data to weigh and evaluate intent, propensity, and various other consumer-level signals to identify the characteristics that make them incremental to their business as well as receptive to their Marketing.

How can an organization obtain a successful Customer Identity program?

A successful Customer Identity program is an enterprise solution that requires enterprise-level support and investment. It also requires a short as well as the long term plan to build a lasting foundation of Identity Resolution from the ground up. Due to the rapid change of customer data across their omnichannel journeys, organizations must proactively plan for that constant change by continually refreshing, repairing, and enriching their identity data using a centralized source of truth. Once a foundational baseline of accurate identity data is obtained, the downstream use cases must be defined. Understanding how the identity data will be used, by who, and when, will help determine the type of investments needed in data, staffing, and technology. That includes being mindful of privacy and compliance regulations that will directly impact the health and risk of your identity data.

Criteria that should be looked at when evaluating an Identity Resolution vendor includes integrated onboarding to reduce data leakage when matching offline identity to targetable digital audiences. A superior vendor will also provide Identity Management services to clean, repair, and enrich customer profiles to maximize offline to online onboarding as well as build smarter segmentation strategies. In addition to offline identity services, organizations must look for an identity provider that can execute as well as to measure data-driven experiences across channels including digital, mobile, email, call center, direct mail, social, and TV.

What impact does identity have on Customer Journey and Experience?

Having the right view of identity has a direct impact on the quality of the experiences delivered across a customer’s journey. The fuller picture a marketer has of a customer’s identity the more successful they can be in determining which channels, creative, messaging, and offers will have the greatest impact. Accurately resolving identity can also help B2C organizations better manage consent and reduce the risk for both their organization and their customers. By only engaging with the customers that want to be engaged in the channels that drive the greatest results, advertisers can maintain a superior level of trust while reducing friction and increasing efficiency.

Identity also fuels accurate measurement of marketing activities which help refine and optimize future customer-centric marketing decisions across channels for both retention and acquisition tactics.  By more effectively matching Marketing experiences back to a conversion or Sales event, marketers can better plan and execute their journey-based experiences. Neustar believes that a customer’s journey is synonymous with their identity. Having the right view of that journey will greatly improve the marketer’s relationship with their customers at every point along that journey.

What are your predictions about your market/customer base in the next 3 years?

Neustar is a multifaceted Marketing solutions provider that provides identity-centric services that maximize our customer’s proprietary data while ensuring the security and privacy of its customers. We are starting to see more advertisers take control over their own identity-based strategies as well as their underlying data as their focus shifts towards providing transparency and trust. Because advertisers realize the value of their customer data they want to not only protect it but maximize it to create a lasting competitive advantage. Even those advertisers who have little to no direct access to customer data, like within the CPG vertical, are starting to rely on identity resolution to create their own repository of Customer Intelligence to power their targeting and measurement activities.

Over the next three years, we will see our client base combine identity management, onboarding, audience targeting, and measurement into a single end to end initiative that unifies their organization around a single source of truth. They will look to vendors like Neustar to provide greater access and control over their data while maintaining compliance and consent standards in line with the latest regulations. Neustar will help our clients build a trusted ecosystem that provides personalized relevant connections across the channels and touchpoints that drive the greatest impact for both the advertiser and the customer while providing accurate multi-channel measurement and attribution to continually fuel predictive and effective marketing.

Devon is a Product Marketing Director at Neustar®, Inc., a trusted, neutral provider of real-time information services and the leader in Marketing Intelligence, Customer Identity Resolution, and Unified Measurement for Fortune 500 brands. Prior to Neustar Devon lead Product Marketing efforts at the shopping commerce platform, Curalate as well as the dynamic creative optimization ad server, Pointroll (Sizmek). With over 10 years’ experience working closely with fortune 500 brands to build better data-driven experiences that drive actual results providing a unique and realistic approach to solving enterprise-level challenges.

Devon has a strong foundation in the disciplines of data-driven technology and its application across Marketing and Advertising. He believes that Marketing requires relationships built on trust and progress.

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Neustar, Inc. is a leading global information services provider driving the connected world forward with responsible identity resolution. As a company built on a foundation of Privacy by Design, Neustar is depended upon by the world’s largest corporations to help grow, guard and guide their businesses with the most complete understanding of how to connect people, places and things. Neustar’s unique, accurate and real-time identity system, continuously corroborated through billions of transactions, empowers critical decisions across our clients’​ enterprise needs.

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