NEW YORK: Brands interested in pursuing "identity-based marketing" should consider emerging best practices in areas like data scrutiny and consumer privacy, a paper in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR) has argued.

Cross-Device and Cross-Channel Identity Measurement Issues and Guidelines: How Advertisers Can Maximize the Impact of an Identity-Based Brand Campaign was written by Evan Neufeld, Principal Analyst/Co-Founder of Storyline Development, and drew on a study commissioned by the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM).

"Tracking consumers across multiple platforms and internet-connected digital devices – linking offline and online behavior for the same household or individual – appears to be a mandatory practice for constructing and executing advertising strategies," Neufeld states.

"It is not surprising that, as with many nascent digital-advertising practices, executing identity-based marketing is incredibly complex on several levels."

Measurement providers such as Nielsen and comScore possess capabilities in this space, as do tech firms like Facebook and Google, but most solutions fall short of the marketers' ideal.

"Although there is no shortage of cross-device options and approaches, brands remain limited in their ability to apply a single cross-device lens across every platform, property, and channel," Neufeld observes.

Informed by interviews with 20 executives operating within this ecosystem, the CIMM analysis offered some best practice tips about how brands might make progress in this field.

One of these guidelines involves assessing where in-house data sits on the deterministic versus probabilistic spectrum, and finding vendors to fill the relevant gaps.

Committing adequate resources to this form of marketing, and understanding the current limitations associated with "identity-based" communications, are also essential.

"For the foreseeable future, most marketers will have to work with a variety of solutions deploying deterministic, probabilistic, and (increasingly) hybrid approaches," Neufeld contends.

Other proposals include making sure brand teams understand how vendors calculate their "match rate". "Marketers must ask vendors how and what they are matching and never take a number at face value," Neufeld advises.

Determining how each vendor defines key terminology is similarly important, as a lack of common standards leaves room for potential problems.

"Although it will be a while before definitions for accuracy and precision are standardized and uniformly deployed, it is important that marketers who engage in cross-device and cross-platform targeting understand the vocabulary used by vendors in the space," Neufeld says.

Underpinning all these efforts, he continues, is the crucial issue of "stronger clarity and standards about protecting consumer privacy."

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by WARC staff