In the emerging world of targeted marketing, knowing your customers and prospects is becoming essential.

As that importance grows, so does the position of companies offering identity “graphs”, records of consumer profiles built from the various breadcrumbs they lay down in their digital activity.

Evan Hanlon, GroupM’s US chief strategy officer, thinks getting customers’ identities right is difficult – but challenging

“Identity, it becomes such a quagmire in terms of understanding what people are actually talking about,” he says in this video interview with Beet.TV.

Specifically, Hanlon says, the challenge is all about connecting up different systems that act as repositories for audience identity.

Hanlon will be speaking at AT&T-owned Xandr’s upcoming Relevance Conference in Santa Barbara on September 17, 2019.

He wants brands to “understand and use both the data and the identity that they ultimately have sitting with their own systems, and build better connectivity to the endpoints that we ultimately need to apply that” – be it for website personalization, programmatic targeting, emails or TV.

Hanlon says he wants to target ensuring disparate data sets which indicate parts of a person’s identity can be matched in a seamless and relatively automated way. Without that, digital data may be little better than panel measurement.

“We see, all over the place, the assault on the Nielsen (TV measurement) panel and people saying, ‘I’ve got two million set top boxes that I can use to build better plans around’. But what if we’re missing entirely (data on) a population in Florida?

“What do we do in terms of building connectivity? That’s going to be where we can ultimately add value and where we really need to focus moving forward.”

Note: Beet.TV will cover the conference as part of a sponsorship arrangement with Xandr.