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What Is a Data Management Platform (DMP)?

What is a DMP?

What is a DMP? Learn the key benefits of a Data Management Platform and how your business can leverage one successfully.

It’s no surprise that marketing technology is making it easier than ever before to drive strategic decision-making. Across web, social media, email, apps, and other touch points, marketers are investing in technology that powers how they reach customers on a personal level. To do that, they need accurate customer data.

Lots of customer data.

Simon Yates, Managing Vice President on the Gartner for Marketing Leaders team, discusses how CMOs are trending to outspend CIOs on technology. Marketers are adapting with the demands of the industry by investing in not only the basics — such as web-content management and analytics — but also in more sophisticated tools, including data management platforms, or DMPs.

What is a DMP, though? And, more importantly, what does a DMP do?

DMPs have two main functions:

  1. The “data in” function
  2. The “data out” function

Let’s look at examples to explore each concept.

The “Data In” Function

Imagine you’re browsing online, sometimes on your work computer and sometimes at home on a different laptop. Each computer and each browser you use (e.g., Chrome, Internet Explorer, and so on) comes with a unique cookie that tracks your online behavior. Cookies are one type of data that a DMP pulls in (in short, data in).

Cookies on desktop or laptop computers are only the tip of the data iceberg though. You might also use your mobile phone, and when you do, that data can be monitored. DMPs gather data about your location, which apps you use, and more. They also gather purchase data that you produce through over-the-top (OTT) content platforms like Roku and your IRI ID.

No matter where you create signals containing your data, all of this “data in” from different sources starts to form a clearer picture of who you are as a unique consumer. DMPs use all of this information to create a single, universal identifier — in other words, no matter what device you’re on, you have a unique ID (for example, ID222) assigned to you.

Marketers, then, can analyze unique IDs and begin to understand more complete pictures of their customers.

The “Data Out” Function

Imagine you’re a marketer looking at a unique customer ID: ID222. You’ve gathered data from different sources and mapped it to an ID.

Now, what do you do with all that data?

The clear answer is that you would try to connect with your unique customers where and when they interact most, right? Maybe serve up a relevant ad that drives a purchase?

The issue — and DMPs help solve this — is that advertising platforms have IDs that they assign to customers as well, and those IDs are not the same as IDs formed from “data in.” In short, your unique customer — such as ID222 — might actually be ID333 to Google. If you want to serve relevant ads to your customers, and you don’t want to show them the same ad 20 times in one week, you have to find a way to connect these IDs. That way, “data in” connects with “data out,” and ID222 and ID333 can be identified as the same customer. This idea is referred to as “user matching,” and DMPs need to perform constant user matching to make sure all systems are in sync.

Think of it this way: If you can accurately match unique customer IDs across advertising networks (Google, Facebook, etc.), and even direct sites like Time Inc., you can control the type and frequency of ads delivered to unique customer IDs.

More on DMPs

While the examples above highlight digital ad networks to demonstrate how DMPs use customer data, it’s important to know that DMPs can be used for much more than that. If you’re a marketer who can see a full picture of your customers, their affinities, their behaviors, and more, you’ll be able to create content ideas, and map that content to every stage of the customer lifecycle.

So, how else could you use customer data to improve your marketing strategy? Find out more about how a DMP can help you.

Chris O'Hara Global product marketing and solutions expert

Chris O'Hara is global product marketing and solutions expert. He was previously vice president for product marketing at Salesforce. He is author of the award-winning business books "Data Driven" and "Customer Data Platforms."

More by Chris

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