WMX Labs: Identity Resolution is Dead. Long Live Identity Resolution.
From automation tools like HubSpot or Marketo (and their tracking) to more specific enrichment tools like Clearbit, ZoomInfo, and Leedfeeder, most SaaS organizations these days have some sort of website tracking in place that goes beyond the basics of Google Analytics. But how do these tools fare against the rising tide of remote work and enhanced web privacy measures?
Have Remote Work and Increased Privacy Killed Reverse IP?
Most analytics software will tell you the IP addresses of your website visitors, but what they may not tell you are the names of the organizations or people who are behind those IP addresses.
That’s the point of identity resolution (and, more specifically, reverse IP lookup ): to associate an IP address with a company so that you’re no longer looking at a random assortment of numbers.
Once widely used to identify visitors, these strategies are losing their effectiveness. But that doesn’t mean that they’re going away anytime soon.
Google Analytics used to offer insights like “Network Domain” to identify which company’s network may be visiting your site. This feature was a key component of early ABM strategies but was deprecated in early 2020, which impacted some tools like Leedfeeder that had to quickly roll out alternatives.
Had Google Analytics not deprecated this feature, workplace decentralization (in large part accelerated by COVID-19) would have surely finished the job. With so many organizations transitioning to partially or fully remote workplaces, network-related insights are simply no longer reliable.
This disruption impacts IP-matching in the same way. Clearbit recently noted that all IP matching providers have been disrupted by these changes to our work environments. Here at WebMechanix, we use several tools with IP-matching capabilities. Recently, we ran a test that showed match rates in the 10–20% range.
These changes, along with the rising tide of data privacy, mean that first-party data enrichment is not going to look the same as it has for roughly the past 10 years. But that doesn’t mean that these insights are going away.
In fact, there’s an increasing demand for data intelligence to inform everything from smarter marketing campaigns to more personalized customer experiences. So what fills the gap?
There’s a Difference Between Consumer Insights, Audience Targeting, and PII
Most of the time, organizations may not want or need personal identifiable information (PII) to execute their initiatives. The real focus is on targeting prospects with specific behaviors or simply driving awareness of a specific type of company.
Marketers attempt to achieve this with the first-party data they have—the information collected directly from their audience and customers. However, because first-party data is personal, PII has been a means to an end.
But data governance is changing, and companies are getting smarter about how to leverage data without crossing the line. Organizations are evolving the ways they store customer data, and the same applies to data enrichment vendors, who also need to comply with increasingly strict data privacy regulations.
This means that while marketers are losing some tools related to the deprecation of older tracking methods and a rise in data privacy concerns, there are still lots of alternatives.
The New Landscape of Identity Resolution
We’ve established that identifying a company by its network is no longer as viable of a strategy as it used to be. Third-party cookies are also on the way out. So how intelligent can first-party data actually be?
We know that traditional means of first-party enrichment and identity resolution are on the decline, but data management itself is having a revolution.
On the rise are consumer data platforms (CDPs) that integrate nicely with various tools and platforms, allowing your department and its associated tech stack to more easily tap into the broader business data available at your organization.
These connections alone compound the value of data and eliminate the need for stand-alone data enrichment solutions.
Marketing ops, dev ops, and sales ops are no longer as siloed as they once used to be; their unification, driven through data, has become the renaissance for modern-age business ops.
For example, the sales intelligence market is having its day in the sun. Acquisitions like ZoomInfo’s purchase of EverString show that the market is maturing.
According to MarketsandMarkets, the market is slated to be valued at over $3.4 billion by 2024. These tools are finding pathways into broader business structures and are helping to shape the future of marketing intelligence.
There are also new and very powerful players entering the scene. Recently, LinkedIn has announced its LinkedIn Sales Insights offering for LinkedIn Sales Navigator enterprise customers. LinkedIn, via its Economic Graph, will surely be a disruptor in the data landscape.
These innovations do not happen evenly across industries and platforms—and, naturally, there will be some ahead of the curve and some left behind.
But as the modern data infrastructure evolves, you’ll want to have folks on your team who understand which plug can go in which outlet, allowing you to adapt and evolve how your business derives insights from its data. For marketers, this means knowing which existing tools will become obsolete and identifying new sources of intelligence.