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The engine behind every great omnichannel experience

The engine behind every great omnichannel experience

Data management platforms: the holy grail of omnichannel

Rio Longacre | May 21, 2015

Omnichannel is complex. A consumer may initially learn about a product viewing a display banner, use a search engine to look for the product the next day, find a retail location using an app on a smartphone, arrive at a physical store and price compare using a smartphones’s browser or an app, then make a purchase the following day on a laptop. In some channels, the consumer is anonymous—making it incredibly difficult to piece together the overall experience at a consumer level.

Enter the DMP—a rapidly emerging platform

In recent years, the data management platform (DMP) has emerged as a layer that brings together “anonymous information across different channels, and non-anonymous information from company databases,” explains Martin Kihn in his Gartner blog. Though the DMP is not exactly a new concept—it’s been around in some form for several years—it is rapidly emerging as a key component in the omnichannel marketing ecosystem.

Using rich data sets, combined with an understanding of key moments in the consumer journey, marketers can leverage a wide breadth of marketing technologies to provide a seamless, cross-device/channel experience tailored to the consumer. In theory, marketing content can now be personalized to individual consumers across direct mail, email, web pages (both mobile and desktop), and even in store, following the individual as she goes about her journey.

A far cry from list acquisition, DMPs require a process for collecting, aggregating, normalizing, and making sense out of what is essentially an exercise in big data. For multichannel retailers, consumer data is collected by a wide breadth of digital technologies that are usually scattered around the organization. Driving deep levels of personalization requires a unified view of consumers that encompasses all their activities, regardless of where they take place.

More than a data warehouse

A DMP is kind of like a centralized database for multichannel consumer data, acting like a data clearing house and marketing hub for online marketing activities. “It’s a piece of software that sucks up, sorts and houses information, and spits it out in a way that’s useful for marketers, publishers and other businesses,” explains Jack Marshall on DigiDay. “It’s not glamorous, but I see the DMP as the 'middleware' layer of the digital marketing system,” says Martin Kihn, Gartner.

Although it contains a database, a DMP is not simply a data warehouse with pipes connecting to various marketing tools. DMPs:

  • Offer marketers a way to place, manage, and consolidate page tags on their digital properties
  • Pull in unstructured data sets, both known and anonymous, through integrations with second- and third-party sources, along with data from other internal sources such as a CRM system
  • Mash this data together into one standard format

Potential DMP data sources include:

  • First-party data: Data that has been collected from owned and operated digital media, including websites, email campaigns, and media campaigns, as well as data brought in from offline sources (e.g., CRM).
  • Second-party data: Data collected via a private data exchange with a partnering company. Second-party data is the data associated with consumers outside the retailer’s network.
  • Third-party data: DMPs can also provide access to anonymized third-party data on millions of consumers from outside data providers that have been linked into the platform.

With the data normalized, marketers can more easily organize the repository of consumer information into a classification or taxonomy structure based on behavioral, demographic, and psychographic information tailored to their business’s needs.

One view of the consumer

Because a DMP consolidates consumer data in one place, this gives marketers a suddenly portable consumer database that can be used by ad networks, exchanges, demand side platforms (DSPs), and trading desks to optimize online advertising. To track campaign performance, most DMPs also offer some kind of dashboard or reporting interface.

A DMP can help maintain a true 360-degree view of customer attributes and engagement, enabling marketers to pull in and analyze consumer data, as well as present a multi-dimensional view of how campaigns perform against specific target consumer segments. Of course, without a DMP this data would still exist, but it would remain locked within specific channels or tools, not aggregated in one place.

Convinced you need a DMP to power your omnichannel marketing activities? Regardless of how you feel today, if you’re among the 91% of US marketers who believe successful brands use data to drive marketing decisions, and you are looking to give your customers a highly personalized experience as they engage with your brand across different channels, then a DMP may be in your not-so-distant future.

Rio Longacre

Rio Longacre is a customer experience executive in Slalom’s Denver office. Rio has more than 15 years of professional experience across strategy, technology, data services, and media.


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