What Does a Next-Generation ID Graph Look Like?

There are two types of ID graphs in the world: the type that everyone is using today, and the next-generation ID graph that everyone will be using tomorrow. While discussions about ID graphing aren’t the most riveting in the world, they’re important for marketers. Especially, in a sputtering economy that’s struggling to recover from a global pandemic and recession. So, what does a next-generation ID graph look like? More importantly, how does it outperform the ID graphs that are out there today? Keep reading to find out.

A quick refresher on ID graphs

Any conversation about ID graphs starts with an understanding of mapping tables. Why?—Because all an ID graph does is map digital IDs from one company to another. The mapping is due to each company having different “name spaces” (= dictionaries of ids that map to their internal data stores). 

Identity resolution is the process of taking disparate IDs (addresses, emails, MAIDs, cookies, etc.) and relating them to a person-level or a household-level concept. Identity resolution effectively addresses the relationship among the identifiers (addresses, emails, MAIDs, cookies, etc.) and hence maps devices to the concepts of people and people to households. 

The more quickly and efficiently you can resolve the link between the identifiers and the concepts of real people or households, the more effective you will be in your marketing.

Batch-mode processing

Older ID graphs rely on batch-mode processing to give marketers the consumer insights they need. Unfortunately, batch-mode processing is no longer efficient or effective—it takes too much time.

When an ID graph operates using a batch-mode process, you (the marketer) are looking at a week-long turnaround time from when you submit first-party data to the data processor and when you get your enriched data back.

That’s at least five business days to process, clean, map, and then enrich your customer data. Then, and only then, is it ready to be syndicated to the various engagement platforms you use to match your content to your desired audience.

Latency is a big issue

Just because you have data in a database doesn’t mean it’s valuable.

Data isn’t valuable to a marketer—data is only valuable when it is used.

The utility of data is tied to actually matching content to people and improving this match.

Only then does data start to have an impact on reaching the right audiences, influencing media spend, hitting the prospects most likely to engage, and more. 

With batch-mode processing, you’re going to wait at least a week to get your enriched data back, and a lot can happen in that time.

A prospect who was in-market when you provided your data to the data processor, may no longer be in-market by the time your enriched data is ready for activation.

What to look for in a next-generation ID graph

Time matters when it comes to ID graphing, so look for a partner that can offer real-time, closed-loop enrichment and engagement (such as Zeta) versus a traditional batch-mode processor (such as Salesforce, Oracle, or LiveRamp).

A next-generation ID graph provider will be able to take from a robust, known-universe of customers and use the insights gleaned to help you obtain your next customers from unknown users. 

What about privacy? It is important with whichever partner you select, they respect people’s privacy rights—do they have consent to associate people’s activity to their identity?

Also look for partners that can help you with prospects with whom you do not yet have a relationship. After all, most advertising is to help acquire new customers who are demonstrating a propensity (i.e. interest and intent) to become your customer. 

Again, the distinguishing factor between the current generation of ID graph and the next-generation ID graph is the closed-loop, real-time optimization system.

This system reduces the latency between obtaining the data that lets you know WHO you want to talk to with your marketing, and actually activating that insight (i.e. putting your marketing right in front of them). 


  • Do you really want to work with a batch-mode partner whether they’ll be days and weeks of delay between data enrichment and activation? 
  • Or do you want to work with a company that’s built to provide enrichment and activation in real time?

Remember, data of and in itself isn’t a source of value.

Data at rest does nothing for your marketing.

The amount of data you have in your database is merely a curiosity metric—it doesn’t actually create value. If you want to put that data to use, you need to work with a partner running a next-generation ID graph so you can activate your data, extract value from it, and measure the significance of the value your marketing is creating over time.


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