The Must-Have Asset for Marketing’s Next Generation


The Data Management Platform (DMP) is the technology that is bridging the worlds of ad tech and marketing tech, or “martech.” It is becoming the central nervous system of contemporary marketing operations. DMP’s now power all of the catch phrases marketers wax poetic about, including “data-driven,” “addressable,” “person-level,” “omnichannel,” and even “post-digital.”

Data Management Platforms are interactive databases that allow marketers to collect, manage, analyze, share and activate audiences across a growing number of marketing touch points. Audiences can range from general, rather anonymous and implied data points, to more specific personally identifiable data points associated with specific customers. The DMP has become a business-critical system because it facilitates a universal understanding of, and effective communications with, a marketer’s customers and prospects. According to Forrester, there were fewer than 2,000 companies with direct DMP implementations at the end of 2015, but that number is expected to grow by a factor of 10 by 2018.

A DMP in action can recognize people as individuals. It houses data that informs demographics and interests, including what has been purchased, engaged with, or viewed in the past, whether directly or indirectly related to a specific marketer’s business. It tracks audiences across devices (increasingly so), and recognizes individuals every time they interact with a marketable touch point.

The DMP is now collectively driving the worlds of ad tech and martech because it can effectively serve as the hyper-informed, connective tissue across technologies that marketers need to manage to individual identities, as in the case of martech, and to a sufficient level of anonymity, as in the case of ad tech. The knowledge hosted within the DMP can be employed across a number of CRM channels like email, direct mail, point of sale, call centers, websites, mobile apps, and across a whole host of advertising mediums.

Several major players in marketing and advertising have acquired their way into the DMP space in the last few years. Adobe bought Demdex. Neustar bought Aggregate Knowledge. Oracle bought Bluekai. Nielsen bought eXelate. Salesforce bought Krux. All of the notable independent DMPs are now off the market and becoming central focus points in other tech stacks and service solution businesses. These companies need DMPs at the center to enable person-level identification and communication.

Leading marketers are driving this transition and are positioning the DMP to be the center of their own marketing universe as well. Why? The reasons are two-fold.

First, consumers increasingly prefer the places they shop, the brands they buy, and the companies they interact with to recognize and cater to them as individuals, in real-time. Thanks to technology that expectation now extends across devices and touch points, and is no longer restricted to interactive or customer service environments. Customers want seamless recognition and personalization across all interactions.

Second, advertising is also quickly arriving at an inflection point where very few brands will be able to afford to pay the premium required to gain the attention of a mass audience. Marketers will instead be required to leverage much more targeted and meaningful approaches in driving ROI. The DMP has a role here as well.

Not surprisingly, it is consumer preference that is driving the change in advertising. People have never truly wanted advertising, and now they can opt-out of it or avoid it in a growing number of ways.

Even marketers that have historically leaned more heavily on advertising communications to drive business impact are being forced to adapt to make sure their businesses can sustain and grow.

One way marketers are doing so is through the use of data and technology to deliver more informed and meaningful messages and experiences, when and where customers prefer them. In order for them to succeed, they need a technology that sees people as individuals, understands past interactions, and can be deployed to match the right message to them at the right touch point, at the right moment.

That technology is the DMP. It started in ad tech, but the power within it and the central role it now plays has seen it shift, through acquisitions, into martech. The audience management brain that powers effective advertising (and business growth) will now also power content and functionality across CRM programs and brand experiences across devices in both the physical and digital worlds.

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Ryan Derrow
Ryan Derrow

Ryan is Vice President of Media at Empower MediaMarketing, one of the largest independent media agencies in the country. His team plans and executes integrated and programmatic media for clients like Bush's Beans, Dremel, Famous Footwear, LasikPlus, and Rust-Oleum.