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DMP: At the Center of the Universe

The center of the universe? Oh, come on ...

OK ... I may be exaggerating a little bit here. But Data Management Platform (DMP) is definitely at the center of digital marketing today. As the first analyst on Merkle’s DMP team, which is also the industry’s only team that focuses on DMP implementation and activation across different DMP platforms, industries, and clients, I want to share my real-life experience of working on multiple leading DMP platforms for a year. As an analyst who’s writing in her second language, my messages will be simple, real, and honest. No industry jargon allowed!

Surprisingly, it works.

When I started with my first project on DMP, I had my doubts. By definition, DMP is a data warehouse that embeds all kinds of marketing data available in today’s world (online, offline, 1st party, 2nd party, and 3rd party, etc.) to help marketers integrate different media silos into a holistic view. Doesn’t it sound too good to be true? It wasn't until I saw how the data I pulled from the offline database for our first client showed up as real-time cookies in DMP that I experienced my first change of heart. But my full conviction happened when I learned our debut segment performed 16% better than all their existing and optimized segments. I stood up and screamed in the office out of surprise and conviction at the same moment. In less than a year, the audience segments our team built for our first DMP client, a financial institution, drove $1,008,061 in total value.

Gosh, DMP knows so much, if not too much ... 

DMP has a grasp of everyone online at a level of detail that I would not want my mom to know about me! Similar to an offline database, it has demographic information like age, income, marital status, ethnicity, occupation, etc. It also has information that is unthinkable in a traditional database — your past purchases in 30 days, spending habits (full price or promotional buyer), eating habits (crazy, huh?), fashion style (well ... if you have one), your favorite personal hygiene brands (scary ...), your TV shows (buckle up: there are more male viewers of Real Housewives shows than females), and your personality. Yes, your personality! Data vendors use hundreds of data points to assign a personality type to each person online. Concerned about how DMP empowers marketers to know so much about you? Don’t worry — regardless of everything DMP knows about your cookie, it is not linked to your real-life information, e.g., your name or address or where you work. You are like a ghost — DMP can see where you are but it can never catch you in the real world. Wheeeew!

The good and ... the bad

I promised you to be honest, so let’s talk about the bad. I’ve been working on all the DMP platforms Merkle has implemented for more than a dozen clients. I have to say that every platform, like every human being, has “issues.” One platform charges separately for basic modeling function, one has to wait 24 hours to get the cookie count, and another has problems with syndication to major DSPs. That is why businesses need a dedicated team to manage their DMP. We know the pros and cons of each platform, the process, the industry standard, and where to look when there’s a problem. For example, we helped one client discover that the problem of low match rate with 3rd-party data lies with the DMP platform they are using because we have visibility to the match rate between the same data provider and other DMP platforms. 

The best part of my experience with DMP? Since DMP is at the center of the digital marketing universe, I know I am learning and growing in the digital marketing world every day!