Reference data is data provided by a third party and used during data cleansing, normalization, and match/merge to improve cleansing and matching results. In the context of cleansing and normalizing, this can include state or country codes, standardized postal codes, currencies, and formal names. In the context of match/merge, this may be third-party records used to improve match accuracy, but at the cost of match speed, data privacy, and violation of user preferences or compliance regulations.
Also know as Reference Files, these can also be thought of as aggregated third-party information about a person used to perform identity resolution including marketing or behavioral history. In this context, Reference Files have several serious defects: (1) Consumers generally don’t give (or don’t want to give) permission to aggregate their data for marketing purposes, and the collection is often in violation of GDPR or CCPA; (2) reference data is losing validity and accuracy because of impending loss of third-party cookies; (3) reference data often slows down identity resolution to an hours- or days-long process, stifling real-time NBA responses.