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Making the Case for Identity Management Technology

March 8, 2017

Jason Rose
Senior Vice President of Marketing

Many companies don’t think of identity management as a staple component of their marketing technology stack. But as more channels and touchpoints become part of the customer journey, brands have to start thinking strategically about matching customers’ identities across devices and engagements. Jason Rose, senior vice president of marketing at identity management vendor Gigya, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about the importance of understanding customer identities.

eMarketer: Can you explain identity management? Why should it be a part of a brand’s marketing technology stack?

Jason Rose: Brands have websites, newsletters, mobile apps, loyalty programs and other touchpoints, but customer identities aren’t always synced up across these properties. Identity management should be part of the marketing technology stack because without it, when a customer signs up for an email newsletter and sets preferences there, another channel—like the company’s app—will have no notion of those preferences, so content won’t be personalized.

This is where customer identity comes into play. A customer identity management system would become the central hub for understanding who a customer is and what their preferences are. It would help brands serve better personalized experiences across different properties.

“A customer identity management system would become the central hub for understanding who a customer is and what their preferences are.”

eMarketer: How do companies tackle the identity problem if they don’t have a management tool in place?

Rose: Most often, we run into do-it-yourself solutions. The concept of creating an online account with a brand through a registration and login screen has been around forever. Often companies have built these themselves, and they likely built them before mobile existed—or back when it was a smaller portion of the experience.

The “omnichannel digital experience” didn’t exist, privacy concerns weren’t as high and there weren’t as many regulations. Things are different now, and if brands think they can handle it themselves, they’ve got another thing coming.

eMarketer: When you say “identity management,” can the technology actually pinpoint a specific customer, or is their identity matched across different channels while still remaining anonymous?

Rose: Our whole reason for existing is to help brands make anonymous customers known. For example, Turner [Broadcasting System] is one of our big customers. When someone goes to and signs up for a news alert, that person identifies themselves and opts in. If that customer wants to go beyond the alert and actually set up a account, Gigya’s [registration-as-a-service (RaaS) tool] supports that process and ties those two things together. That way, all the information provided ends up associated with the account.

“Our whole reason for existing is to help brands make anonymous customers known.”

eMarketer: How does an identity management tool integrate with other tools in the marketing technology stack?

Rose: By leveraging a single sign-in, we’re able to do a number of things. For example, we can share preference data with a content management system [CMS], or connect to a [customer relationship management] CRM and email marketing system. We can also integrate with a solution like AdRoll for ad servicing, and relay customer preferences to make sure they’re getting the types of ads they want to see.

eMarketer: What advice do you have for companies shopping around for an identity management tool? What should they look for?

Rose: As you look for an identity management tool, think about how you are using each interaction with the customer to build the relationship. Earlier I gave the example of signing up for alerts, and eventually creating a full account—we call that progressive identity-building. Companies need to think about how each step can be woven into the customer journey, and then look at vendors that can support each of those steps.

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