How many times have you been in a meeting that sounds like this?

“We need to show how our channels work together to prove value.”

“What learnings can we apply from channel 1 to help channel 2 perform better?”

“Where are our synergies across channel 1 and channel 2?”

We’ve all been there – and for good reason. Cross-tactic optimization feels like an easily capitalized opportunity. Everyone should take their learnings from one area of media and apply them to others. We want to foster more cohesive strategies that drive efficiency. 

What’s concerning (or at least outdated) is the language and the framing of why these strategies matter. When brands drove the media conversation, “cross-channel” made sense: our activations were organized primarily by channels and journeys were fairly linear. But today’s media conversations are customer led and the collapse of the purchasing funnel has turned linear journeys into winding mazes.

That means the modern media marketer must organize activations not around channels, but around customer needs. Cross-channel strategies must become cross-journey strategies, using insights to optimize different touchpoints based on the audience’s needs regardless of what channel or platform they’re on. Sure, tried-and-true tactics are still important, like sharing search queries across paid and organic or testing strong offers from programmatic in paid social, but they’re closer to table stakes than differentiators. What will truly create a competitive edge is customer-centric journey optimization – and that is best achieved through identity.

Let’s walk through three areas that impact a modern cross-journey strategy and how identity enhances each one.

Walled Gardens and Artificial Intelligence

One of the realities of today’s media landscape is walled gardens. The biggest players in the media world are keeping their data in closed ecosystems and building their walls ever taller. In tandem, they’re also creating AI-based technology to help advertisers maximize performance within those walls. In the absence of other levers, brands can use these tools, like Performance Max in Google or Advantage+ in Meta to deliver more relevant experiences in response to real-time customer intent signals.

Brands with identity resolution can go a step further to feed their first-party data into these systems and provide key data points that platform-centric AI could never know – attributes like whether someone is a lapsed customer or their membership level in the loyalty program, for example. They can also connect the dots to get a clear view of the customer in an owned way without having to rely on data from the walled gardens. This means better opportunities to build relevant experiences that address the real needs of different audience segments.

New Audience Engagement Patterns

To activate in the right places in the right ways, brands must understand where their customers’ attention is going. This varies widely by audience, so seeing the full assortment of journeys via an identity solution is the best way to understand what moments come before and after customer engagement with media, and how you can show up to be most useful. 

Sometimes we even see simultaneous media engagements – take, for example, someone who’s enjoying a show on YouTube TV while posting about it on X or messaging their friends about it in Snapchat. As more digital touchpoints become prevalent, identity is the most effective way to see the entire journey for your customers and understand which engagements tie closely together in the user journey.

Measurement Across the Journey

Cross-journey optimization requires an understanding of how well every piece of media is working, whether it’s driving brand awareness or direct conversions. All media is performance media, and identity is what can help you link areas like brand advertising to business outcomes and incrementality. That means you can optimize it, prove its ROI, and give it the budget it deserves in order to keep your customers happy and engaged throughout their purchasing journey.

Beyond properly valuing brand media, identity-based measurement will also help replace some of the commonly used measurement tactics in display media to get more visibility into user engagement. When the third-party cookie disappears, so will view-based event streams; and with privacy laws asking customers to opt-in rather than opt-out, click-stream solutions are also hampered. Having identity resolution that connects the dots of user engagement without these measurement tools is critical for continuing to see the full picture.


Cross-channel strategies are a goal for every marketer, but what we should really aspire to in today’s consumer landscape are cross-journey strategies. By reframing to optimize across your customers’ media experiences instead of limiting your ideas to specific channels, you’ll be prepared to meet their needs, regardless of where they’re engaging with you. Identity resolution will help put you on the path to get there. 

If you’d like to learn about Merkle’s identity platform, Merkury, please visit our webpage.