A Digital Crossroads: The DMP

I recently had the honor of speaking at Tealium's Digital Velocity conference in San Diego on the topic of the Data Management Platforms (DMP) and the future of this particular technology. It ended up sparking an interesting conversation and I thought it might be helpful to convert my opinions into this month's newsletter to start a conversation with all of you!
This topic comes up regularly with our clients today as they try to ascertain the value from how to best leverage their data, whether it's 3rd or 1st party. In our industry, there is ample opportunity to create a personalized experience for your customers and ultimately identify valuable segments for your business. How you go about doing that, however, is not set in stone. There is a mix of historical/antiquated, established, and fledgling startup technologies out there to help you achieve your goals. So, where do you go? Do you expand your existing DMP, build a DMP, or should you completely avoid a DMP?
Setting the Stage
Historically speaking, a DMP was designed as a way to build segments within your 3rd party data and use those segments to dictate what advertisements people saw as they traversed the web. In many cases, a DMP was aligned with a particular DSP, which resulted in a pretty rigid dataset as it pertains to expanding the dataset beyond the traditional 3rd party view.
However, when it comes to a "highest and best use" approach for technology, a DMP was your best option when it came to media and advertising. That's a channel where it still can make an impact today.
The Landscape Today
Today, advertising and media are looked at through a more critical lens. Transparency of who views the ads, on which sites, for how long, and ultimately the agency contracts/kickbacks has become all the rage over the past year (read more on it here). With this in mind, the IAB has outlined that "viewability" needs to be the currency for all brand ad spend which is a drastic shift from the impression model that has existing historically.
Why the shift? Well, quite frankly, agencies have been raking clients over the coals for years with advertising budgets and it is definitely time for a change. That change is taking the form of data ownership and a transfer to 1st party data.   
1st party data signifies that a client owns it, instead of renting it from a variety of places. When you own it, you only pay for it once instead of paying for it every time you need to pull that data from a vendor technology. When you own it, you can store it over time and build a robust customer database that you can then leverage for real-time personalization and targeting in ALL channels and not just media/advertising.
The Challenge
With the shift from 3rd party to 1st party data comes the question: where do I store this data and how should I use it?
While a DMP serves a "highest and best use" purpose as I've outlined before, it simply can't support your multi-channel dataset in a way that will allow you to have both data ownership and real-time access for the purposes of targeting content and marketing initiatives while identifying key segments across all channels. Taking that a step further, you need the ability to convert 3rd party data to 1st party as soon as you have the ability to identify an individual in more than one channel. That capability, again, is not something that DMPs were built to manage and the time it would take to rebuild the back-end of these systems would be wasted when there are alternatives out there.
As you look across the major players today (Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle, IBM, etc.) you'll notice one thing:  none of them have a complete set of offerings, or "stack", to address all of the needs of an organization. With an incomplete option, and with the desire to avoid vendor lock-in or price gouging, comes the desire to build your own marketing cloud and compile the best in class breed of technology for your company.   
The Future Vision
The enabler for creating a flexible, scalable solution to the DMP problem really started to take shape back in 2009 with the dawn of Tag Management (TMS). Combining a TMS implementation with a strategic data layer, provides marketers with the opportunity to centralize data flow across all tag-based technologies and to build a 1st party dataset as you connect with visitors from one channel to the next. It is basically the key to unlocking the door for one to one personalization.
This space continues to heat up and innovation is moving a mile per minute with every vendor looking to build the silver bullet for multi-channel optimization (I refuse to say omni-channel since it means the same thing). Here are some things you should be looking at or watching:
  • Google Big Query
  • Tealium AudienceStream
  • Ensighten Activate
  • Google's launch of a DMP
  • Apple's acquisition of FoundationDB
The above announcements, products, and acquisitions all point to the task at hand: data ownership and real-time activation of that data. Gone are the days where you should be paying to rent data that you’ve created in the first place or being punished via licensing fees to interact with your own data in real-time.
Use your DMP, but use it for the right reason: media and advertising segmentation. Take the data within your DMP and convert it to 1st party within a better system that allows for you to build a real-time customer database for personalization and targeting. Start with a multi-channel measurement framework, build your own marketing cloud, and ultimately build a best in class analytics program without wasting effort. 
I'd love to speak with you further about this and help you build your program, so please feel free to reach out or comment below!
By Bill Bruno
About the Author:

Bill Bruno is the CEO - North America, Ebiquity.

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