Digital technology and digital marketing have evolved over several years. For a long time, digital marketers and organizations have been trying to create ads that targeted towards their intended customers. However, due to the fragmented nature of digital platforms as well as the user data they obtained have created limitations in creating highly targeted ads. However, the emergence of people-based marketing has started eliminating this challenge.

What is people-based marketing?

For some time now, digital marketers have been serving ads to people depending on the various devices they use. Marketers place cookies and track pixels on the devices people use to explore the web. They then use this data to understand people’s preferences, likes and dislikes, habits and identities. However, this practice has its own inadequacies. The data marketers receive is fragmented and hence, gives an incomplete picture of a person’s identity as a consumer. While fragmented data has traditionally helped marketers and advertisers obtain some picture of the intended buyer, it does not give them the complete picture.

This is where people-based marketing comes in. With this form of marketing, advertisers can focus on displaying ads to the actual unique individual irrespective of the devices, locations or digital channels they use. It goes beyond user personas and targets actual users.

People-based marketing is a very powerful form of targeted advertising and behavioral marketing as it combines user intent or customer’s buying behavior, customer’s persistent identity which is acquired from all channels and devices they use anywhere, and their role in making decisions in order to deliver them the right campaign and message. Moreover, as opposed to regular behavioral marketing, it takes a proactive approach to engage the user in real-time across all channels and devices. People-based marketing enables marketers and advertisers in unlocking new sources of revenue as well as an omnichannel business.


The Persistent ID


The true power of people-based marketing lies in the fact that it focuses on a business’s ultimate target - the consumer, as opposed to a device or channel, to deliver ads and campaigns relevant to them. And what really makes this possible is the consumer’s persistent identity.


The persistent identity of a person can be drawn based on several factors such as common IP addresses, user’s online behavior, login information, digital transaction information, and user profile across various platforms. Based on the user’s information obtained across various digital and physical touchpoints, the user’s persistent identity can be created and a connection can then be made between the various devices such as laptop, smartphone, and tablet the person uses.


For example, the person may use the same email address or phone number to login to his social media profile as well as make a purchase online. The person may also use the same email address to log into his social media account from his laptop and his mobile device. Such factors help marketers to connect these different identities and develop the complete persistent identity of the real-world individual.



Many organizations collect both online and offline data and store this data in their database for the purpose of customer service, research or surveys. This data can include details such as the different devices he/she uses, the person’s buying patterns, behavior, interests and intent, the person’s functional role and much more. Data marketers who venture into people-based marketing utilize these data points as well as a person’s persistent identity to run highly targeted campaigns to these people.


Besides persistent data and other key user data, automation plays an important role in people-based marketing. In most cases, similar to marketing campaigns, automation is siloed, primarily due to the limitation in customer identification. However, people-based marketing empowers automation with people-based targeting rather than cookie-based or device-based targeting. The result is that organizations can automate their approach to target individuals across devices and channels.

In closing

Unlike cookie-based marketing which targets devices, people-based marketing targets the actual people who are using these devices with their persistent ID playing the critical role in identifying them. Acquiring this persistent ID does come with a few challenges such as difficulty in data acquisition, privacy, and real-time data integration. However, many ad-tech companies are already taking up the challenge to address these organization concerns. Moreover, an increasing demand for personalized experience and better targeting has made marketers and advertisers optimistic about the future of people-based marketing

Originally published , updated March 15 2018