Successful publishers need to know who their readers are… so far, so obvious. But how much do you know about your readers, and how are you using that knowledge? “It’s more than just knowing readers’ names and addresses,” says Dave Scott, Chief Marketing Officer at customer identity management company Gigya. “Businesses need to learn what their customers care about,” he says.

Gigya works with more than 700 brands globally to help them build identity-driven relationships that turn unknown site visitors into known, loyal customers. By putting identity at the core of brand interaction, the company’s Customer Identity Management Platform enables businesses to consolidate customer data in a permission-based fashion. Working across social networks and devices, it helps build rich customer profiles that can be integrated with existing marketing service platforms.

Scott says he has seen marketers become smarter in the ways that they use customer information, but it’s been a slow process. “It was really pathetic the way marketers used to approach the issue of identity,” he says. “They treated customers as just usernames and passwords. They collected email addresses and said to IT, ‘Can you put these somewhere?’ and they got dumped in a database and forgotten.”

Eventually the publishing industry moved into segmentation and probabilistic marketing; third-party data driven by cookies became important, but Scott is not a fan. “Cookies are invasive, tracking you on and off the websites that dropped them – that’s quite disturbing. The end user never really knows what’s going on.”

Relevant experiences

Compare that with Gigya’s registration and social login solutions where users self-identify, and give businesses, including media properties, permission to use their data in exchange for personalized, relevant experiences. Gigya manages more than 500 million user identities across all the web and mobile properties that it works with, but doesn’t ever own or even see any customer data. All customer data belongs to each respective Gigya client, and the data is never cross-pollinated.

“We’re just a connector in the relationship between the media property and the subscriber,” Scott says. “This is very different from cookies or any other tracking technology in that it gives 100 percent control to the user. At any point in time, the user can log into Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and either turn information off or unsubscribe altogether.”

Beyond privacy concerns, Scott doesn’t believe third-party data is actually that effective: “It’s generally inaccurate and it’s not curated, it’s not owned.”

Gigya’s unified approach to customer identity asks individuals for permission to learn more about them, with a recent survey showing that over 70 percent of respondents said they would agree to brands using their Facebook and Twitter data.

Scott points to Forbes as an example of a media property using social login to increase registration and audience engagement. Following the introduction of Gigya’s social and consolidated login infrastructure, the publisher saw a 100 percent increase in registered users, with 67 percent of users registering via social login.

“People don’t love filling in forms, but they do want to be the smartest guy in their network,” Scott says “They want to be the mayor of that content and identity management software gives them the tools for sharing. That’s the quid pro quo for registering.”

Social logins

On top of giving publishers permission to use their data, social login users are also constantly curating their own data, with Gigya delivering consolidated, synchronous data across the customer’s social identity. “That’s a way to know about me,” he explains, “Whether I like Sam Smith or Beyoncé.”

Scott also sees the development of a single customer view solving a very real problem for publishers with multiple titles. “We worked with one publisher that has more than 20 different online properties, each with its own EIC and each using its own CMS. There was no connection between properties. You could maybe try to get everyone on the same CMS, but is it possible?”

Customer identity management solutions allow publishers to centralise all identity data and deliver a single sign-on across properties and CMS platforms.

“Unified customer data is stored in one place – registration data, system data, behavioural data, and social data – all in one spot. It’s that one opportunity for you to be able take all your customer data from disparate databases, store it in one place, and make it accessible to all of your different applications,” he explains.

By connecting media properties to their user data and collecting all data in one place, a consolidated customer identity management solution helps save media properties money by reducing resource needs and requirements for data management and cuts the time needed to process reader inquiries. The rich customer profiles and data sets created also power audience segmentation that can be used to improve ad targeting, drive personalisation, and increase positive customer behaviours like social sharing or commenting.

Currently offering authentication options with more than 35 different social platforms, Gigya foresees even more customer identity authentication mechanisms in the future, with biometric tools and facial recognition capabilities becoming more popular. “The nice thing about working with Gigya is that we provide all the connectors; the publisher doesn’t need to worry about which networks or technologies are popular or not popular going forward.”

Image courtesy of Alexander Boden via Flickr used under a Creative Commons license.