What to look for in a DMP

Data Management Platforms’ Value and Considerations

Get clarity on what a data management platform is and its key benefits, as well as factors to consider when deciding which technology is right for your organization.

It’s not new news that data management platforms (DMPs) have driven a revolution in marketing and advertising over the past several years.

For many advertisers, DMPs are the backbone of data-driven marketing, informing the complete marketing cycle – from planning, to activation, to performance. Data management technology captures, harmonizes, visualizes, and helps make sense of big data for advertisers, providing greater access to measurement across a variety of channels.

Though they can be a game-changer, there is no “easy button” for selecting and implementing a DMP. In fact – with the fast pace of the industry, recurring tech challenges, frequent regulation changes, and the introduction of new technologies and players – choosing the right DMP for your business can be confusing and often intimidating.

To offer some clarity, we will review what a DMP is and its benefits, as well as a few items to consider when deciding which technology is right for you.

DMPs’ Role in Unifying Data for Audience Insights and Activation

Like the name sounds, a data management platform collects, integrates, and organizes your first and third-party audience data into a central repository. DMPs house data from a variety of disconnected sources – desktop, mobile, social, video, site, CRM, and transactional, to name a few. Demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data can then be sourced and integrated into a DMP to enrich customer profiles, get a better understanding of consumers, and inform critical marketing tasks.

While technology captures and unites this data, it is up to the marketer and the desired needs and/or business outcomes of the client to determine its core functions. DMP technology enables marketers to perform the following foundational capabilities:

  • Identify relationships between touch points in a customer’s journey across channels and devices
  • Enrich data by sourcing 3rd party attributes, appending to customer profiles, and segmenting similar users together into “audiences”
  • Push audience profiles to other technology platforms (such as CMSs, ESPs, and DSPs) for marketing personalization and/or activation
  • Explore data via reporting and visualizations to uncover valuable insights, as well as export data to fuel advanced analyses

While these just scratch the surface, they provide the groundwork for what a DMP is capable of. The use cases and application of this data can extend much further, depending on client needs. For instance, marketers commonly use DMPs to tailor messages to their existing audiences, reduce waste by adjusting communications to their converters, and create and target look-alike audiences based off high performing customer profiles. Advertisers can also discover new audience segmentation opportunities outside of what they may or may not have previously thought.

One of the most talked about topics and emerging DMP capabilities today is identity management. Multi-device usage is making it increasingly challenging to understand how your campaigns are performing and identity is the keystone for unifying fragmented experiences. DMPs can help solve the challenge of connecting cross-device activity by mapping digital identifiers such as cookies and device ID’s to a single user or household. This connection allows marketers to measure across devices and channels, tie online ad exposure to offline sales, and integrate customer data for segmentation.

DMPs can offer a wide variety of benefits depending on the usage of the data and technology leveraged. From increasing marketing efficiencies through enhanced measurement, to understanding where your customers are within the purchase cycle, to improving customer experiences by informing real-time personalized experiences – DMPs are a critical element to a successful data-driven marketing strategy.

Considerations Marketers Should Weigh When Selecting and Implementing a DMP

Selecting a DMP is no easy feat. The lines of adtech and martech are blurring, and marketers often find themselves trying to sift through the clutter and keep up with the continual changes in the industry. It seems as if a new challenge pops up every day, and technology companies are quickly scrambling to provide new solutions or create work-arounds. This can make choosing the right DMP pretty difficult.

Marketers should weigh these six considerations when selecting and implementing a DMP:

1. What is the purpose?

DMPs can be used for marketing and/or business purposes. When evaluating use cases, marketers need to know if a DMP will serve internal business needs independent of marketing, internal business needs that influence marketing, purely for data-driven marketing, or a combination. The prioritization and alignment of these questions will help dictate set up and implementation, sources ingested, and ultimately partner selection.

2. What are your use cases?

DMPs help aggregate information and activate audiences across multiple channels, but not all DMPs are created equal and capable of accommodating every use case. And not every use case delivers against a marketer’s true business model. Key use cases and technology requirements must be prioritized.

3. What is your data strategy?

A DMP is just part of your overall data architecture and strategy. Choosing a DMP largely depends on your priorities, and how you want to leverage a DMP within your overall tech stack.

4. Who will be using this technology?

DMP users know that it’s far from being a “holy grail.” It’s a tool that enables greater access to a wide variety of data – but it’s up to the people who leverage the tool and its data to maximize its use. Success requires training the right people and ensuring they understand all of its functions and potential applications.

5. Should you rent or buy?

There are pros and cons to assess when determining if buying a license or leveraging an existing partner’s agreement will be best for you. Marketers must consider what level of commitment they want to invest in and what existing resources they have to dedicate.

6. Should you consider enterprise or point solutions?

Again, there are pros and cons of each to evaluate when deciding which solution will be the right fit. Advertisers must consider their existing technology, the interoperability of the technology, and how the DMP will be used as part of their broader tech stack and overall marketing goals.

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