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The DL on DMPs

Keeping up with consumers’ multichannel, multidevice lifestyle is ever more difficult. Two of the biggest challenges: ingesting digital and behavioral data across channels and devices, and activating it to drive messaging, according to Brian Deagan, CEO and president of Knotice. And these challenges, he explains, are driving a new category of platforms known as data management platforms (DMPs).

A DMP, according to Forrester Research, is “a unified technology platform that intakes disparate first-, second-, and third-party data sets, provides normalization and segmentation on that data, and allows a user to push the resulting segmentation into live, interactive channel environments.” Basically, it’s designed to enable the 360-degree customer view marketers covet by linking multiple datasets from multiple channels. So, if a company wants to tie contact center records to email exchanges and social media activity to a customer record, it’ll likely need a DMP.

“The promise of the DMP is to meld together the online and the offline to develop a view of the consumer across funnel stages in a context that is increasingly digital,” Deagan says.

However, because many DMPs are rooted in display, their technology and business models don’t lend themselves to being able to onboard first-party data and personally identifiable information (PIIs) from customers, Deagan says. Instead, the data has to be abstracted. This data abstraction hinders personalization and workflow, which makes it difficult to operationalize the DMP across marketing channels. He further explains that it’s important for marketers to identify audiences in both anonymous and known contexts to drive segments into interactive channel environments, including email, Facebook custom audiences, SMS, website personalization, and display.

Another area where DMPs struggle to perform is in the mobile channel, notes Joanna O’Connell, Forrester Research’s principal analyst, in “The Forrester Wave: Data Management Platforms, Q3 2013.” In the report, O’Connell discusses how third-party cookies don’t thrive in a multidevice environment. And while she acknowledges that some DMP vendors offer a first-party domain orientation to address mobile issues, she also notes that this is a fairly new development. “While a few are investing in alternative mobile solutions, almost no one can credibly offer a complete mobile solution today,” O’Connell writes in the report.

Still, as for the future of DMPs, Deagan predicts that marketing databases and DMPs are going to collide within the next five to 10 years. “Right now companies need both,” he says. “But in the future—and it’s not going to happen overnight—they’re probably just going to need one.”

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