Facebook’s “Big Data” marketing partners, Acxiom, has figured out how to know whether a person who has used several different names is the same person or not.
It’s rolling out a new product for marketers, called “Audience Operating System,” that allows advertisers to tie together your “digital persona” even if you’ve changed your name due to marriage, the use of a nickname, or because you sometimes use a middle name. It also figures out whether someone who has moved addresses or changed phone numbers is the same person or not.
AOS solves a longstanding problem for the kind of big, packaged goods marketers that Facebook wants as advertising clients: Pulling together the information in different databases, online and off, that companies may have collected on individuals on separate occasions. It is very common, for instance, for a company to have a phone sales database that is completely unlinked to its online sales database, according to Phil Mui, Acxiom’s evp/chief product and engineering officer. (Mui was formerly in product management for Google Analytics.)
Your name and contact information may exist separately, and slightly differently, in both those databases. And the company’s different marketing teams will use that data to target you without coordinating to see whether you’re being reached — which irritates consumers.
Mui experienced a personal example of how annoying it can be when marketers don’t really know who “you” are, he told Business Insider recently. He recently signed up with Comcast, the cable TV and broadband provider. Later that same week he received three other offers to join Comcast from the company’s various marketing arms.
AOS essentially sits on top of all of a company’s different databases, online and off. Using AbiliTec, a digital “identity resolution” technology that Acxiom also owns, AOS presents a company’s customers in a single, simple place, with all the duplication and redundancies stripped out.
It has a match rate of 90%, Mui says. He demurred when asked how it works, but offered that “it is not a statistical guess.”
AOS helps Acxiom’s advertiser clients to use their data to target ad campaigns on Facebook. Acxiom’s clients include Macy’s, American Express, AllState and Citibank.
Facebook partnered with Acxiom because, over a year ago, when Facebook was trying to encourage big companies to try out the social network, marketers said, “I want to use Acxiom because all my data is in Acxiom,” Mui tells us.
The company has recently been trying to become more transparent to show consumers how their data is used to target them. It recently allowed consumers to look themselves up in its database and change information the company has on them. They can even opt-out. “If they want to opt out they should be able to do that. If you opt out, you’re out,” Mui says.
In reality, very few people opt out, Mui says. What tends to happen is that consumers change the data Acxiom has to make it more accurate — or at least more appealing. It is common for women in their 40s to change their age to something in the early 30s, he says. That kind of change occurs in single-digit percentages of people who look up their info on Acxiom. It’s all to the good, Mui says: “Marketers don’t care about your real age. They want to know who you want to look like.”