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Orbee on Identity Resolution at DMSC 2023

October 31, 2023
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Orbee, a leading provider of customer experience middleware for automotive, recently brought its expertise to the 2023 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference in Austin, Texas. At the center of discussions was a keynote panel on "Identity Resolution Is the Foundation of CDPs", a topic that underscores the critical role of understanding customer identities in shaping the future of digital marketing strategies. With insightful perspectives from Atul Patel, Orbee's CEO, the panel delved deep into the essence of identity resolution as a cornerstone of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), offering key insights for businesses navigating the evolving landscape of customer data management.

Identity vs Entity Resolution: The Difference and Why it Matters

The first question to be addressed was: What is the difference between identity resolution and entity resolution?

Identity Resolution

This refers to the process of connecting disparate data from various sources and touchpoints to build a single, unified profile of an individual customer. It's about accurately linking different identifiers like email addresses, mobile device IDs, and cookie IDs, that a single individual may use across different channels, to create a cohesive and singular view of that individual.

Entity Resolution

On the other hand, entity resolution goes a step further. While it also involves matching data to a single profile, it focuses on mapping these individual identities to specific known profiles or 'entities' within the context of a larger ecosystem. These entities could represent households, businesses, or other organizational units. For example, multiple individual identities (e.g., all family members using the same device for shopping) might be resolved to a single entity (the household).

In the panel, Atul Patel, CEO of Orbee, emphasized that the two processes, while distinct, work in synergy to deliver a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of customers. This combined view can then be leveraged by dealerships to create highly personalized and effective marketing strategies.

Choosing the Right Identity Resolution Framework

Next, the panel tackled: How does a dealer know which identity resolution framework will be the best for their dealership?

An identity resolution framework refers to the set of strategies, methodologies, and tools used to link various customer identifiers across multiple data sources and platforms to create a unified customer profile. Here are a few examples of such frameworks:

Probabilistic Identity Resolution

This framework uses statistical algorithms to match identifiers based on non-unique data points such as location, device type, browser type, etc. Although it offers a broader reach, the accuracy can vary.

Deterministic Identity Resolution

This framework creates matches based on unique identifiers such as email address, phone number, or a user ID. This approach provides high accuracy but can be limited in its reach.

Hybrid Identity Resolution

This combines both deterministic and probabilistic methods, providing a balance of reach and accuracy. 

Privacy-Centric Identity Resolution

This framework places an emphasis on respecting consumer privacy rights. It prioritizes transparent data collection practices and gives customers control over their data.

AI-Based Identity Resolution

This innovative framework leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to continuously learn from data points and improve accuracy over time.

In deciding which identity resolution framework will best serve their dealership, business leaders should consider several factors, including their customer data volume, the quality and type of data they have access to, their specific marketing objectives, and the level of customer privacy they want to maintain.

This is where Orbee truly shines. Given its focus on the automotive industry, Orbee helps dealerships choose the most appropriate identity resolution framework by taking into account their unique requirements and goals. The chosen framework should align with the dealership's marketing objectives and the specific needs of its customers, ensuring efficient data collection and analysis. It's this specialized approach that makes Orbee an invaluable partner for dealerships navigating the complexities of identity resolution.

Creating Accurate Household Profiles 

The third question was: How does one establish an accurate profile of each household from a database of entities?

Creating a comprehensive household profile often involves the integration of data from various sources into a Customer Data Platform (CDP).

This process begins with the consolidation of data from different sources, which could include transactional data, CRM data, web analytics, social media interactions, and third-party data sources. Each of these sources might have their own unique schema and format, requiring careful data transformation to ensure consistency.

Once this diverse data has been standardized, it can be joined together based on common identifiers like customer IDs, email addresses, or device IDs. This joined data is then appended to the existing customer profiles in the CDP, filling in any gaps and providing a more complete picture of each customer.

Advanced CDPs, like Orbee's platform, are designed to handle these complex tasks, managing the extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) of data from different schemas and tables. They also perform ongoing data hygiene and deduplication to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the appended data.

Deciding on Third-Party Data Sources

The fourth question was: For dealer groups who want the best profile for each customer, how do they decide which third-party data sources to append?

To make this decision, dealerships need to first understand their current data landscape - what kind of data they already have and what information is missing. For instance, a dealership might have comprehensive transactional data but lack insights into customers' online behaviors or lifestyle preferences. 

Once these gaps are identified, dealerships can then look for third-party data sources that provide these missing insights. The quality, relevance, and reliability of the third-party data source are critical factors to consider. 

It's also crucial to ensure that the third-party data source is compliant with privacy regulations and ethical data practices. Atul emphasized that the selected data sources must align with the dealership’s commitment to customer privacy and trust.

Finally, dealerships should consider the compatibility of the third-party data source with their existing data infrastructure. The chosen data sources should integrate seamlessly with the dealership's Customer Data Platform to facilitate efficient data processing and analysis.

Managing Data Imports into the CDP

The fifth question was: Is there data that should not be brought into the CDP? Should data imports be limited to the use cases the dealer has today?

When it comes to the question of what data should be imported into the Customer Data Platform (CDP), Atul Patel presented an enlightening perspective during the panel discussion. The consensus from Orbee's standpoint is that with the right CDP partner, dealerships should feel empowered to bring in as much data as they have access to, as long as it’s relevant and complies with privacy regulations.

However, when considering data imports that require a significant investment, the approach should be more strategic. Dealerships must evaluate whether the new data aligns with their current and future use-cases and marketing strategies. It's essential to ask: Will this data enhance the understanding of the customer journey? Will it provide actionable insights to drive marketing outcomes?

Data for the sake of data is not the goal here; rather, it's about importing data that will significantly enrich the customer profile, optimize customer engagement, and drive better business decisions. Therefore, the decision to invest in importing additional data should be driven by a clearly defined strategy that takes into account the dealership's current needs, future goals, and the potential return on investment.

Dealing with Anonymous Website Shoppers

The concluding topic on the panel was about anonymous website shoppers: What percentage of these consumers can dealers legally reverse engineer to obtain their email address, physical address, etc. for marketing purposes?

Atul Patel addressed the sensitive topic of dealing with anonymous website shoppers during the panel discussion. The question of what percentage of these consumers can be legally identified for marketing purposes is one that invites scrutiny.

While certain technical approaches and legal jurisdictions might allow for some degree of identification of these consumers, it's important to remember that just because something can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. 

The ethical considerations and the overall customer experience must remain paramount in these decisions. Dealerships need to strike a balance between gathering enough information to create a personalized experience and respecting the privacy and autonomy of the shopper.

In an era where data privacy is a significant concern for consumers, dealerships should be careful not to overstep boundaries. Intruding on a user's privacy by attempting to resolve their identity from a fleeting website visit can lead to mistrust and negative brand perception.

Instead, Patel suggested that dealerships should focus on providing such a compelling, value-added online experience that anonymous shoppers choose to engage more, gradually revealing their identity willingly. This approach respects the customer's journey and privacy, fosters trust, and ultimately contributes to a more positive customer experience. 

So, while the precise percentage of anonymous shoppers that can be legally identified will vary depending on many factors, including location and technology, the primary focus should always be on creating a respectful and customer-centric experience.


In conclusion, the Digital Marketing Strategies Conference's keynote panel was an enriching platform for exploring the pivotal role of identity resolution in Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). The insightful discussion led by Orbee's CEO, Atul Patel, shed light on a range of topics: the difference between identity and entity resolution, how to establish accurate household profiles, the selection of the best third-party data sources, the relevance of importing data into the CDP, and the delicate issue of dealing with anonymous website visitors.

The fundamental message was clear: the power of a CDP lies in its ability to leverage identity resolution to create a comprehensive understanding of customers, driving better marketing outcomes and customer experiences. However, this process must be executed thoughtfully, always keeping customer privacy and trust at the forefront.

We encourage dealerships with any questions or interests in deepening their understanding of identity resolution and the effective use of CDPs to reach out to us at Orbee. Our experts are ready to help tailor a data strategy that respects customer privacy, enhances customer understanding, and drives dealership success.

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