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What Is Connected Recognition, Anyway?

As marketing and technology become more and more intertwined, it is the marketing world's turn to create some new industry buzzwords. “Big data” and “the cloud” have dominated the technology world’s buzzword list, often leaving the corporate world wondering what they are and how to use them. "Sounds cool, but give me some tangible examples of a practical use." Leveraging concepts of big data and the cloud, Merkle has introduced a new marketing buzzword, "Connected Recognition" or "cR" for short. The ability to link anonymous online data to a known offline individual. "Wow, sounds cool. But give me some examples of where that could be useful."

While recently trying to describe this at a family event, I realized that the description of what cR is and how it can be used depends greatly on the different audiences that might be interested in its use. For example, my family had very little understanding of technology or marketing, but when described in the example below, it suddenly made a world of sense to them:

Family Example

When you're looking to buy that new 60" UHD Samsung TV and you do a Google search, browse a bunch of websites (manufacturers, Best Buy, a local electronics store, Amazon.com, etc.), suddenly an advertisement for that exact TV starts to show up in ad banners on many web sites that you frequent, like your online brokerage, ESPN.com, etc. Those ads don't stop…even if you have purchased that TV already.

With cR, your in-store or online purchase of that TV can be linked to your online browsing and Google search data, so that advertisers know to stop displaying that ad to you. Cool, right?

There are many more groups that should be interested in cR. Marketers, technologists, and analysts all gain very crucial insights by leveraging cR. The following are descriptions and examples for each of these unique groups:


Connected Recognition combines the traditional power of customer data integration (CDI) to identify a single individual across elements such as name, address, email, phone, and other personal identifiable information (PII) with newer concepts of digital data integration (DDI) to identify an individual across multiple digital platforms. The linking of online and offline data allows a marketer to efficiently target an individual across multiple platforms with a message customized for each individual based on previous actions.

Example 1

Display advertisements can be tailored to previous website events, but rather than simply using cookie and session-level events, we are able to mix in offline demographics of an individual, such as age, household income range, credit risk, or interest affinities, which would not otherwise be known online. 

Example 2

Abandoned carts for ecommerce sites can be triggered in combination with offline order history to create a targeted email to the individual with recommendations of similar products.


Technology as it relates to marketing provides a unique challenge to most organizations. In order to truly provide a unique marketing platform there is a huge amount of data being processed. Big data is a huge part of cR. The cloud is required to enable cR for real-time systems, such as DMP, DSP, etc. Graph databases allow cR to track the relationships of digital and offline identifiers along with attributes of those relationships with rapid access to that data. All three of these technologies are rapidly evolving, which can be challenging to keep up with for most marketing organizations. Connected Recognition removes that headache for the technologist, and solves the need within many organizations to be "big data-enabled" or "in the cloud."


Analytics in data-driven marketing has always been critical, but never more critical than it is right now. With cR, individuals can be targeted very specifically based on individual attributes, events, and actual actions across multiple digital and offline channels and media.

Connected Recognition provides the data necessary for analytics to more accurately attribute online and offline data to a marketing conversion. Marketing dollars can now be allocated more appropriately to the channels that are truly driving purchasing behaviors.


Most digital attribution models will very heavily weight a search event or email promotion to an online purchase, because digital identifiers can be passed from search or email links to an online site. However, cR can tie multiple online and offline streams together, which could show that a search event from a home computer was actually initiated from a social media advertisement on an individual's mobile device.

Regardless of why you are interested in Connected Recognition, the value in this new marketing buzzword is clear. A technology that brings together anonymous online data and offline known individuals creates an opportunity to target individuals on multiple channels and media in a much more customized fashion.

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