To DMP or not to DMP?

Ben Willee and Richard Taylor

Ben Willee is the ‎general manager and media director at Spinach Advertising. Before joining Spinach in 2012, he worked for agencies including Initiative and Ikon. Richard Taylor oversees digital for Spinach. He’s a self-proclaimed geek who has been involved in the IT industry since 1984. He has worked for Apple, the ABC and agencies including WeAreDigital and CHE Proximity.

With the number of tech platforms and offerings available to marketers today, you’d be forgiven for tuning out when talk turns to technology. From DMPs to DSPs, marketing automation software, dashboards, AR, VR and the over-hyped AI, it’s a technological minefield for modern marketers. But given the increasing digitisation of marketing, there’s one piece of tech on that list that’s worth taking time to consider: The DMP.

DMP stands for Data Management Platform. In a nutshell, it’s a tool that can manage your data which sounds rather dry and uninteresting. But a DMP is actually a pretty powerful asset as it allows you to create target audiences based on first, second and third-party data sources. It enables you to categorise and group people together on account of their behaviours or value to your business.

The beauty of a good DMP is that you don't need access to large amounts of first-party data. It can actually help you to build your own pool based on something much better than demographics: People's behaviour. The DMP does that by collecting data through tags inserted into your website or other digital assets.

For existing customers you already have information about, their data can be linked right across the business. For example, you may have customers your marketing team sees as highly valuable but if there are data silos, the customer service team may not be privy to this information. A DMP can unify interactions and transactions in order to provide a better customer experience through every department.

The other key benefit is the ability to knit together people’s behaviour across devices. By identifying people on whatever device they are using, a DMP will allow you to reduce wastage by only delivering the message once to a very specific audience, not three or four times, which goes some way to reducing incessant retargeting.

Who needs a DMP?

For categories where data is siloed, difficult to get or hard to find, a DMP is going to be an excellent addition to the marketing mix.

It's most relevant for brands that have audiences at different stages of the funnel. Those that are in-market regularly will benefit most from a DMP because it enables them to watch the changes in people's behaviour and track the performance of campaigns against set metrics.

Realistically, a DMP will work well for brands that rely on e-commerce such as hotel chains but it also has benefits for companies such as car manufacturers because you can identify consumers as being interested and then push them to take different actions such as spending more time on your website or taking a test drive, depending on where they are within the funnel.

Companies that have the opportunity to upsell or cross-sell also stand to benefit from implementing a DMP. Banks are a great example as they can use the DMP to collect data based on their customers’ behaviour and combine it with transaction data to create actionable insights.

Categories with repeat visitors to digital assets are also ideal DMP candidates which is usually the case in instances where the purchase journey includes a high research portion. For example, a consumer may only renovate their home once every 10 years but they're likely to return to a bathroom product website multiple times. The DMP will be there to capture their data when they do and can then lead them to the next stage in the purchase funnel.

Your own DMP vs agency approach

Of course, we’re going to say you would do well to work with an agency that has a DMP. But just as not all DMPs are created equal, neither are agencies with DMPs.

A DMP is far more valuable in a full-service environment than a stand-alone media agency because econometric modelling shows the improvements through optimisation of campaigns have a much smaller impact than creative improvement. Having the ability to test different creative with the DMP will lead to far greater results than media efficiency and optimisation alone.

You need people running the DMP with an understanding of the whole marketing spectrum because the DMP touches tech and operations, media and creative departments. A purely digital person will be in danger in this environment because they may not have considered the impact of offline media just as an offline person might not have considered the online ramifications. To get the most out of the DMP, you need experienced heads that are able to unravel insights and look at them holistically with an understanding of the relationship between new and traditional media.

It pays to ask your agency if they have experience with DMPs because you don't want to be the guinea pig. There are very few people operating in this space and it can be expensive and time-consuming unless you’re working with experienced people who've done it before.

Getting a DMP ready

Once you realise the value of implementing a DMP, the next step is preparing yourself for the process of making it happen. It’s not just a case of pushing a button. In most instances, 80% of the work will be in the tagging of websites and digital assets in order to get the data sorted so that you can see the learnings. But this takes time.

Getting the various stakeholders of your business involved is also vital as this is something that will need to be managed across departments from IT to marketing, customer service and even fulfilment.

We would argue that putting in this effort up front will more than pay off in the long term. The future customer relationship management benefits of having a DMP and linking it to marketing automation are really exciting. For example, you could identify someone as having bought a product and when they're due to run out a month later, send them a replenishment email. If they don't open that email or click on it, you can then target them individually in display, pre-roll or any number of mediums to bring them back.

In summary, yes, your business would benefit from a DMP because increasingly your comms are going to be delivered in a digital environment and you want to be able to track the behaviours of people receiving them.

But remember, not all DMPs are created equal. You want to make sure your DMP is agnostic to your marketing stack and can talk to a broad range of vendors in order to unify your data. Don’t bundle your DMP with a Demand Side Platform which is used for advertising inventory. We believe a DMP is too important a tool to be wrapped up with something else. It should be viewed on its own merits in its own right.

Tags: digital marketing, marketing technology, DMP

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