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The marketing technology landscape is crowded with new and integrated solutions. Customer data platforms (CDPs) offer organizations a massive opportunity to aggregate, organize, and utilize customer data from a multitude of sources into activation-ready audiences. While this is a critical piece to any organization’s tech stack, many vendors claim they can offer identity resolution capabilities which may be misleading to marketers.

While some CDPs can offer some digital identity capabilities of known contacts, they do not offer identity capabilities beyond this. The reality is that this is just a piece of the pie. So, what exactly is full scale identity resolution and what role do CDPs play?

Understanding the Components of Identity

The identity of a known or unknown customer is made up of two core parts:

Digital: The set of identity attributes that define an individual’s persona. These personas would encompass identities such as site logins.

Terrestrial: Contains physical identity attributes such as name, address, phone number; and is intended to be a persistent identifier as someone changes addresses, phone numbers and even names.

In the technology marketplace, these two parts are often lumped together without explanation of the nuances of what full scale “identity” truly means. For example, terrestrial identity does not often sit within the CDP automatically. This personally identifiable information (PII) must be brought in from a separate terrestrial identity solution that, augmented to digital identifiers with third-party data, can then be added into an identity graph to be utilized in within marketing and media efforts.

Understanding the Private Identity Graph

A private identity graph looks massively different between a large media company and a regional bank or a consumer-packaged goods brand. For smaller brands, first-party data is gathered, bolstered with third-party data, then activated within media. This is similar to how direct mail marketing has traditionally operated.

When cookies go away, organizations will no longer have access to simply buy these third-party digital audiences. By owning a private graph, your organization can bring known first- and third-party data together to then use in media across Facebook, Google, publishers, etc.

This is a house for all known data to give organizations control over how identifiers and PII can be collected, associated, and leveraged.

Where Does a CDP Come into Play with Identity?

Unknown identifiers and the ability to leverage them are key differentiators for brands. Solutions which can identify your unknown site traffic are critical to realizing this differentiation.

A CDP can help bring these different datasets together. A CDP ID can be used as the primary key linking a known email address or other known PII to an unknown ID tag. From here, the CDP can link these tags together to identify unknown visitors. This can serve as a backbone from which to enable several sought-after use cases.

So, in truth, a CDP can be very beneficial with the identity process. However, it is not a one-stop-shop fix as one might expect when making the purchase. You also need a solution that is able to help with the unknown identifiers. CDPs are also not able to bring third-party data attributes to the table to help compare attributes to identify unknown prospects coming to your site.

Want to learn more? Merkle’s Merkury identity solution can help. Contact us here to learn more and see how it can fit within your tech stack.

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