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This is how advertisers bridge the gap between online and offline data

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20. 06. 2018

Consumers take it for granted to shop both online and offline. However, this switch creates gaps between channels, which makes it difficult for marketers to understand the buying behavior of their customers and to establish a link between these two worlds.

But making this connection is important in order to create a holistic customer journey and be able to target customers. Online and offline data must therefore be merged. But how does data onboarding work?

 

LINKING ONLINE AND OFFLINE DATA

Offline data includes, for example, purchases in a retail store or information about customer loyalty cards. On the other hand, online data records the behavior and interests of consumers on the Internet. This data is collected using cookies that measure all different touchpoints of consumers.

Both online and offline data contain important information that plays an important role in creating and optimizing marketing campaigns. Advertisers must therefore find a way to link this information and collect it in a central location. This is where data onboarding comes in.

Here, offline data is transferred to an online environment. On the one hand, existing offline datasets can be uploaded to a data management platform (DMP). The offline data is then compared with online data using specific indicators. On the other hand, customers can be induced to switch between channels. For example, clients that made an offline purchase in a store, could be asked for an online evaluation, or the same customer account could be used for both, the store and the online shop. Thus, advertisers learn how online and offline touchpoints influence each other.

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DATA ONBOARDING AND DATA PRIVACY

Since May 25th 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation has come into force. It establishes a higher level of protection of personal data and gives consumers greater transparency regarding the information that is collected about them. Data onboarding processes have to be adapted accordingly.

In concrete terms, this means that the data must be anonymized by hashing, encryption or generalization. Personal information such as name, date of birth or email addresses are converted in such a way that the reference to the natural person is removed. In this way, consumer data is protected but can still be used for marketing purposes.

 

FURTHER CHALLENGES IN DATA TRANSFER

Besides the GDPR, there can be further hurdles to data onboarding. For example, many companies shy away from onboarding because the data is stored in different silos and is far too disordered to be transferred to a central system. If this is the case, the duplicates of the individual data silos should first be sorted out before they are combined in one single platform.

In addition, different identifiers pose a challenge. First of all, a uniform identifier should be defined for the silos. Here, it makes sense to use the email address, as it is therewith  highly likely to create unique matches between the data sets.

If the problem lies in inconsistent data formats, the data of the silos should be brought into the same format before onboarding. It makes sense to define a uniform procedure for data input or data management.

 

MERGING ONLINE AND OFFLINE DATA IS USEFUL

Consumers are constantly switching between the online and offline world. Without a corresponding link, it is  impossible for advertisers to obtain a 360-degree view of their customers Data onboarding provides advertisers with a holistic and cross-platform understanding of their customers in the sense of a single customer view.

In addition, campaigns can be designed more specifically to reach prospects both online and offline. At the same time, the knowledge gained helps to activate marketing campaigns not only more precisely, but also at the right time. This avoids advertising gaps and gives customers a holistic brand experience.

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