Data, and how to manage it, has become this year’s hottest topic. The concept of companies, or organisations, crunching data sets from multiple platforms, both on and offline (and being able to enhance brand communications, stock control, asset management, you name it) has leapt from the trade media into mainstream consciousness.
Everyone in the marketing space has a view on data, where to host it and how to use it. The solution is a data management platform – a DMP; if you’re a client aiming to invest in a DMP, there are a few basic scenarios to consider, and with a view to opening a debate on the issue, here is my take on the options are clients facing.
Any client-side marketer with digital marketing budget control will need to review whether a DMP sits best with an agency, a third-party advertising technology provider, in-house or partially mirrored as some kind of combination of these.
There is a rationale behind each option, but I think these are best understood and evaluated in the context of how each has added value to brands during the evolution of the ad tech space.
The Issue With DMPs Supplied by Agencies
We have agencies that have spent the last five years testing the many ad tech point solutions on offer, and building agency infrastructure to cope with the ever-changing range of solutions available, while maintaining some semblance of spend and return reporting.
Some agencies have tried to build their own ad tech solutions, but this is very expensive and could have the tendency to become a somewhat closed system, potentially isolated from further valuable innovations going on in the wider market, which doesn’t sit well with the vendor agnostic/interoperability that agencies like to support.
The Issue With DMPs Supplied by Point Solutions
There has been a huge amount of investment in the ad tech industry in recent years, and this has driven a lot of innovation. However, it has, as we all know, created a hugely fragmented supplier-side marketplace. This fragmentation of suppliers has also resulted in the fragmentation of advertiser data.
This is a bad thing for advertisers because data analysis and attribution of influence and action cannot be meaningful in silos, it can only be meaningful at the budget-level, which is across all paid or earned media.
Tag management solutions have emerged to handle the many vendor pixels and scripts that these point solutions need in order to get access to a brand’s conversion data and valuable intent data, outside of their specific digital solution silo. So, we have point solutions inviting advertisers to expose their pixels and scripts on advertisers’ content to get access to audience and intent data.
Some of these companies are offering a DMP to make this flow of advertiser data more complete, but brands should consider how their first-party data is being used by these point solutions – is it possible for these suppliers to use that data to sharpen the performance of other advertisers?
Some of these suppliers are even making a virtue of data pooling and establishing a competitive landscape to maximise their yields. Buying display for your site visitors doesn’t have to be like buying search, and, well, you wouldn’t support Google Analytics tags on your site if it meant you paid more for warm prospects in Google Adwords as a result of sharing that first-party data!
The Issue With DMPs Supplied by Third-Party Buy-Side Marketing Stacks
Third-party technology providers that offer a point solution for every digital channel, built on a single technology platform, have enjoyed great success recently. It is easy to see the benefits of a complete buy-side marketing stack; one throat to throttle, all data in one place and accessible to the media delivery systems of the buy-side stack.
This is a potentially virtuous circle, but marketers would do well to ensure:
The chosen buy-side stack is an ‘open stack’ that accommodates integration with emerging technologies from other vendors.
– The chosen buy-side stack is flexible enough to take import/export data with the brand DMP and other key partners (server to server and other workarounds according to cost/benefit/speed considerations).
– The chosen buy-side stack is one you would consider giving a view of your most valuable asset – first-party customer or prospect data and ROI data. Can the buy-side stack also be a media owner taking a significant percentage of the brand’s media spend?
– In the spirit of transparency, this is where Mediaplex sits in the mix; we’re omni-channel and own some media, but are primarily focused on pure, high-end analytics.
The Issue with Brand-Side
There are third-party suppliers of brand-side data management platforms and, depending on from where these products evolved, they can easily integrate with parts of the digital ecosystem. For example, a third-party data provider’s DMP will have good cookie syncing with external data, and an offline DMP provider will have insight into typical offline data structures.
Brands are building their own brand-side data management platforms, consolidating many databases and considering how this data can be utilised across the business. This takes a long time and a significant financial investment, so there is clearly a case for interim solutions wherein a client’s first-party data is sync’d with a third-party DMP that is native to the tools that execute digital media campaigns.
Brands are waking up to the value of their first-party data and will not give it away in exchange for access to third-party technology. Brands are taking control of technology decision making and many procure direct relationships with technology providers that are willing to support brands with the ambition to own their own data and control the technology that activates it.
There Are Some Universal Qualifiers That Can be Used to Evaluate Any DMP Offering
The DMP should receive and associate the data the moment it is generated. Speed is critical, because of temporal context, and also it’s the only way to cut through the data gradient (if everyone had access to all data then the competitive data advantage is lost).
The data captured should be high-quality, with all the richness of metadata, available in a point solution that delivers the media. The DMP must be designed for data syndication (it must be able to both eat data and spit it out).
The purpose of a DMP is to centralise, control and activate brand data, so clients should qualify any DMP supplier they are considering by understanding their role in the ecosystem and how the brand data will be used.
Data should be keyed on an advertiser data point to maintain its portability. As this space evolves, advertisers will need the option to move to other providers in a timely way and without losing everything that’s been logged and learned in the past.
Every brand will have different objectives, marketplace contexts and agendas. At least when it comes to choosing the best DMP solution, we in the ad tech world are spoiling them for choice.