Data onboarding is one of those many processes in digital marketing that is, essentially, a black box.
To help shed light into this particular black box, management consulting firm Winterberry Group has released its first report on data onboarding in the U.S., “The State of Consumer Data Onboarding: Identity Resolution in an Omnichannel Environment.”
Winterberry says this is the first such report outside of onboarding providers themselves, which include Acxiom’s LiveRamp, Experian, and Lotame.
The study addresses at some length the definition of data onboarding. Many people, myself included, had considered it is more or less how Wikipedia characterizes the practice: “the process of transferring offline data to an online environment for marketing needs.”
Offline data, such as a retailer’s purchasing records, is matched with online data, like online purchasing, social posts, or site visits. The match is made through a “match key,” which is an identifier common to both, such as an email address. Then the combined profile — this customer’s offline record, married with her online patterns — is anonymized and given an ID.
In fact, that’s how the report first defines consumer data onboarding:
“Consumer data onboarding (hereafter referred to as ‘onboarding’) refers to the process of linking offline data with online attributes.”
But then the report adds:
“More specifically, it is the matching of two audience (B2B or B2C) data sets: one, a first-party CRM data set belonging to a marketer and the other, a digital data set belonging to a data provider. The match process uses a common identifier or match key to link the records.”