Do You Need a Data Management Platform?

September 11, 2017
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

Use five criteria to assess if DMPs are the right choice for your marketing enterprise.

More than 50% of enterprises currently use a data management platform (DMP), either directly or through an agency partner, according to Gartner’s Marketing Technology Survey. Of the marketers that function without a DMP, one in five feel they don’t need one. With data-driven marketing front and center on the CMO’s radar and DMP adoption mixed across marketing teams, it’s time to shine a light on whether DMPs are the right choice for marketers.

DMPs gather data, organize and configure data, and make that data available to various users and systems. Marketers use DMPs for everything from ad targeting to personalization, channel integration, audience extension and measurement. The DMP category is in flux, and customer data platforms recently entered the decision set, adding to the confusion. Most marketers are also confused by the boundaries of DMPs — how a DMP fits with other data solutions, such as data warehouses and CRM systems.

Regardless of current or planned adoption, DMPs provide important functions that are often underused, and every digital marketer should be familiar with the category to make an informed, strategic choice on whether and how to adopt DMPs. “Evaluate this important technology to determine whether it can help you meet your marketing data and analytics goals,” says Martin Kihn, Research Vice President, Gartner for Marketers.

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Five areas to explore

To start assessing if DMPs are the right choice for collecting and organizing your data, ask if any of the following apply:

Existing relationships
Marketers may already have some of the capabilities of a DMP without knowing it. Your agency may use a DMP on your behalf. Start the information-gathering phase internally by surveying your agencies and partners to see if you have an existing relationship that provides access to a DMP.

Complexity tolerance
Marketers at small or midsize companies may not need or be able to support the complexity of a DMP. Are you able to manage your media buys adequately through an agency partner or directly through media platforms, such as Google and Facebook?

Lopsided requirements
If your requirements skew toward media or personalization, a combined or specialized platform may be easier to use. Combined DMP-DSP vendors such as DataXu, specialized personalization vendors such as Evergage and RichRelevance, or campaign management tools such as Oracle Responsys or Marketo may meet your needs.

Multichannel integration
Many marketers don’t want to use DMPs for ad buying or personalization; they simply want to create more coherent customer experiences across channels. A campaign management or customer data platform may work better in this case.

Regulatory restrictions
If you operate in a highly regulated industry, such as healthcare or financial services, or in regions with specific privacy requirements, such as the European Union, assess the impact of compliance on your ability to get sufficient value from a DMP.

“Draft a set of key requirements for the DMP, focusing on important strategic areas such as identity management, data co-op management and audience extension,” says Kihn. “Baseline what DMPs do and don’t do in the context of your existing marketing and advertising stack, focusing on areas of overlap.”

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