What is a data management platform (DMP) and how can this tool help improve digital marketing efforts?

Long and loud have come the cries for one-to-one relationships with visitors to websites and apps.

Presumably, digital marketers have enjoyed a much better chance at achieving ‘right message, right time’ excellence than their offline equivalents due to increased data collection and intelligence.

However, while data collection and reporting frequently result in a better understanding of traffic directions and user behavior, they often fall short of delivering results.

This is at least partially because they haven’t any action or reaction capabilities baked in, and marketing organizations have too many other concerns to orchestrate an effort that delivers both breadth and accuracy across channels.


This is where data management platforms (DMPs) come into play.

At its most basic, a DMP collects and aggregates both first-party (from your own digital properties) and third-party (demographics or interaction from behavior on sites you don’t own) user data from multiple digital marketing channels.

In most cases, third-party data is acquired through purchase or affiliation and does not come out of your own site analytics.

Using a combination of data you’ve gathered on your own property plus third-party behavioral data, the DMP allows you to define narrowly targeted audiences that fit your criteria. When well organized, these narrow segments can be paired with targeted messaging and help you communicate with audiences in more meaningful ways.

For instance, if you were a landscaping company, you might send a message to users who had visited your site and looked at some pricing. But would that really be targeting enough users?

What if you could enrich your insight with information about which of those visitors had also visited a barbecue site, a pool chemical site, or had looked for a catio (for (Read more...) feline friends) online?

catio flickr_23470213509_475be3d563_z Source: Flickr

You could craft messages and find venues which matched your more detailed audience profile to speak more directly to the demonstrated proclivities of these segments.

Some of this you could certainly do without a DMP. But, there’s at least one additional thing you can do with a DMP that can’t easily be duplicated; port your audiences from one marketing stack to another as well as your own properties.

This portability allows you to define audiences once and deploy content against those definitions many times. So if you define the barbecue/cat lover segment once, you can market to them on your own landing pages, your email campaigns, your display ads over any number of networks; all without re-defining and reconnecting data sets.

Key vendors in the space, like Adobe, Lotame, Krux, and BlueKai, each have a different spin on DMPs. But they all boast offerings that let you aggregate data, choose segments, and deploy programmatic automated marketing plans that turn data to action. Not only that, they help to ensure consistency of messaging across channels.

Naturally, the vendor may not necessarily tell you what kind of work is involved in getting the solution designed, customized, and functioning.

When you approach this discipline, it helps to understand that you will likely need some dedicated analytics and technical expertise to make sure your data is clean and accurate, your audiences are properly defined, and your remarketing programs are executing. And of course, you will want to make sure your native analytics are tuned to detect the campaign for proper attribution and optimization.

The DMP is a powerful tool, but not a push-button solution. It’s a way to tackle what becomes an exceedingly complex digital marketing environment, and allows you to develop one-to-one communication that’s based on data.

Not many other methods are available for completing the optimization cycle in a meaningful way. If you haven’t looked closely at DMPs yet, perhaps now is the time.

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