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Your Match Rate Should Be an Input, Not an Outcome

Written By:
Jon Tallman

What’s in a match? That vaunted metric of the modern digital marketing master is often considered in the context of RESULTS: what amount of my input do you recognize? In that world, a match by any other name might just do as well.

At FullContact, we think that you should be the one to name your match rate, and that is why we are announcing the imminent release of our Tunable Confidence parameter on Person API queries.

So the answer to the question, what’s in a match? Quite a lot actually.

Tunable Confidence

Still think a match is just a match?

When the singular, simple match rate is merely an outcome of a data exchange, you probably aren’t used to having options. Sure, you can shop the market for the “best” match rate you can find at a price point that is palatable, but you might find yourself feeling like you’ve settled. Of course, none of that speaks toward the reason for the match… in other words, why dost thou seekest this match? The answer to that question is variable – so maybe your result should be too.

Take for example a retail brand with two upcoming campaigns on the docket – one digital and the other direct mail – your cost basis will have an order of magnitude or more delta between the two. Where you might be able to get a $1.25 PER THOUSAND UNITS on your digital campaign, the direct mail strategy might cost you $1.25 PER UNIT. Since budgets aren’t often defined by the method, you will have to vary the total audience size for each of these efforts.

Quality vs Quantity

That means with a budget of somewhere between $6,000 and $7,000 for each, you might try to reach 5,000,000 people on the digital campaign where you could only reach 5,000 on the direct mail campaign. That means your cost associated with a bad match in the digital campaign are much lower than the cost associated with a bad match in a direct mail campaign.

It all comes down to a kind of data conservation law: the balance between quantity and quality… otherwise known as recall and precision. With Tunable Confidence, FullContact customers will be able to select varying levels of precision (confidence) in order to ultimately adjust recall (match rate). Let’s take a closer look at those two forces and how they relate to each other.

Recall vs. Precision – Find the Right Balance

In the case of the digital campaign, your tendency might be to focus on recall – or quantity – rather than precision. The great power of the modern digital ad campaign is in its breadth. You put your message in front of as many individuals as possible in order to move the conversion needle at scale and on the cheap (at least with respect to cost per unit). This would be an opportunity to lower the Confidence threshold in order to maximize the match rate and thus the size of the audience.

In the case of the direct mail campaign, things are different. Every mailer counts A LOT, so you’ll want to maximize on precision in order to get the best bang for your buck on each individual you reach. While you may not have the same breadth, the impact of each successful contact can be so much greater.

Early Bird Registration for Connect '18And what about a campaign whose cost basis is somewhere between those two? Take an email marketing campaign, for instance. In these cases the cost to serve might be similar to the digital campaign, but the cost of bad emails to your company’s spam reputation? The cost of sending personalized messages to the wrong individuals? These can be high and dictate a more middle-of-the-road approach to the tradeoff between recall and precision.

In a world where you have no capability to choose your match rate, the answer of whether to tune or not is moot. And so it is unfortunately nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of your vendor. But if you want to take arms against the sea of identity resolution troubles and by opposing, end them, you’ll need look no further than FullContact.

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