Exploring the Future of Identity

On November 10th, I had the privilege of joining a panel discussion on the future of identity during the Digital Marketing Summit West at the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park, California, organized by LUMA Partners.

The session, moderated by Safegraph CEO Auren Hoffman, was filled with provocative ideas and bold predictions. Here’s my take on the highlights from each panelist:

  • Scott Howe, CEO & President at Acxiom. Howe has traveled to Washington, D.C., every six months for the past five years to keep his finger on the pulse of federal action on privacy and data protection. During his most recent trip, a month ago, there were senators in his meetings – not just staffers, as during previous visits. Howe said this is clear indication that heightened privacy regulation is coming in 2017, regardless of the upcoming change at the White House. There is also a growing realization among regulators and legislators that it’s more important to control how data is used than how it is collected. “Data use legislation is good for all of us,” Howe concluded, because it will protect innovation while blocking wrongdoers. “The challenge for us as an industry is figuring out the guardrails around appropriate ethical use.”
  • Steven Wolfe Pereira, CMO at Neustar. The conversation in marketing is moving from media buying to audience buying, Wolfe Pereira said. Evolving beyond traditional advertising outlets, brands will seek channels that let them talk directly to the people they want do business with and maintain their own customer graphs. “Brands are going to look for non-obvious partners,” Wolfe Pereira said. “They have to take back control of their customer relationships.”
  • Mike Sands, CEO & President at Signal. Sands predicts “a seminal change, for any investors in the room, over the next five years” where advertising moves from a programmatic approach – looking for the most efficient media channels for sending out a mass message – to addressability – leveraging customer data across every touch point. An example: when a consumer visits a car company’s online configurator to check out features for a particular model, the car company can share that information with a cable company and the cable company can then show a commercial for that model to the individual consumer. “You could address a customer of yours or a potential customer on a one-to-one basis,” Sands said.
  • Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, CEO & Founder at Drawbridge. The FCC’s ruling last month restricting broadband providers from collecting “sensitive data” – such as subscriber’s web history or app downloads – almost completely ends the concept of opting out, according to Sivaramakrishnan. Instead, consumers will soon be able to control an “independent predominant currency for identity” that transcends the walled gardens created by service providers and brands.

When it was my turn, I talked about how Gigya’s customers – some of the largest brands in the world – are changing their view on customer identity. Many of them now see privacy as a service to offer their customers – not because it’s required by regulation, but because it’s the best way to build a two-way relationship and a great brand. Eventually, I believe consumers will have complete control over their identity, including what information brands retain about them and how that information is used.

I don’t know which of these predictions will come true, but it’s safe to say the future of identity – and digital marketing in general – will look nothing like the past.

The Digital Marketing Summit panel on Identity

The Digital Marketing Summit panel on Identity, left to right: Auren Hoffman, CEO, Safegraph (moderator); Steven Wolfe Pereira, CMO, Neustar; Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, CEO & Founder, Drawbridge; Scott Howe, CEO & President, Acxiom; Mike Sands, CEO & President, Signal; and Patrick Salyer, CEO, Gigya

By Patrick Salyer