Data Management Platforms (also known as DMPs) are not new, but they are still gaining traction in the modern marketing space. At one end of the spectrum, there are companies using DMPs to their fullest potential. At the other end of the spectrum, there are companies still confused by the concept of a DMP. I often hear questions such as: What is a DMP? Is that the same as a CMP or a CDP? Why do I need one? What’s the benefit of using one? Can’t I just manage without it? Will we need to consider a DMP as we grow?

The answers to these questions are not always simple. The benefits, impact, and requirements of a DMP will differ from one organization to another. However, we can certainly simplify the concepts and help you determine whether a DMP makes sense for you and your business.

What is a DMP?

In its most basic definition, a database management platform is a centralized repository that gives you the power to aggregate, organize, and classify your first, second, and third-party data. More importantly, a DMP lets you add meaning to your data, allowing you to categorize the information based on a taxonomy that matters to your business. This gives you the power to model audiences, personalize campaigns, extend the reach of your marketing efforts, and scale your abilities.

To paint a better picture, let’s forget about DMPs for a moment. Think about the last meal you ate. We don’t often think about our digestive process, but it’s pretty fascinating. Your body is able to take all of your ingested food in its various forms, unlock the key nutrients, and bind them together so you can harness the energy and power contained within it. DMPs are similar.

A DMP ingests all of your data, aggregates it into a single platform, and creates common linkages within your audience based on hashed personally identifiable information (PII/email). This is critical to ensure you can connect all you know about your audience’s behaviors both on-line and off-line, which you can then use to target and scale your online marketing presence. From there, a DMP can fully utilize the power of your data by adding classifications/tags, activating it within various media partners and ad campaigns, and running analytics to truly enhance ROI.

Why is a DMP important?

There are lots of reasons to start thinking about a DMP, if you haven’t already. Every company’s needs are different, and the benefits you glean will vary depending on the data you own/acquire, your ultimate goals, and your available marketing channels. With that said, there are some key benefits to owning and fully utilizing a DMP:

  • Aggregate, unify, and classify your audience data
  • Enhance personalization, targeting, and messaging
  • Manage and control media advertising and ad partners
  • Scale your audience with look-alike modeling
  • Overcome data disparities and siloed information
  • Enhance your first-party data with second and third-party data.
  • Hyper-target your messages to your audience when it matters most
  • Control and manage campaigns across media channels and publishers
  • Analyze performance across channels and campaigns
  • Ensure your campaigns provide a true omnichannel experience to your audience

One additional benefit of a DMP is the behavioral insight you can gather about your audience. The right DMP will utilize tags across your web and mobile channels to properly capture behavioral data related to actions and product/service engagements. It can also integrate mobile apps through SDK and off-line data using APIs or on-boarding. This information can then be used to target specific audiences and/or look-alike audiences to scale your reach.

How do I choose a dmp?

As you begin your journey to find the right DMP for you and your business, it’s important to keep in mind these five core capabilities. Make sure to address each of these areas to truly understand how to the platform will work for you, your company, your data, and your marketing efforts.


One of a DMP’s core functionalities is to aggregate data from multiple sources so you can make use of it. Be sure to understand what kind of data your potential DMP can utilize. How is this data ingested? What kind of second and third party data is available to enhance your existing data? Is this data mainly B2B or B2C? What kinds of data partnerships has your potential vendor built to enhance and augment the available data? Make sure the DMP you choose is with a vendor that has built a large and stable network of partnerships with reputable data service companies.

Data Matching

Although sometimes overlooked, data stitching is the glue that holds your data together, literally. Data matching allows you to bind second and third party data to your primary audience data. It is important to understand how your DMP matches this information and how they protect it securely. Ensure whatever vendor you use has a strong ID graph and applies strong deterministic and probabilistic algorithms to deduce and authentic people. How do they perform the links? How do they ensure a proper connection between online, mobile, and offline data? How are IDs amassed and ingested and, most importantly, how are they updated over time? What is the typical match rate? Although it can sometimes be hard to digest, take the time to understand the basics of hashed PII data, ID stitching, and customer identity management. It’s extremely important to the success of your DMP.


Having data in your DMP isn’t enough. You also need a way to classify and tag the information so you can make use of it. It’s critical that you organize your data by taxonomy since it’s the very first step in truly harnessing your data’s power. Make sure you research how your DMP will classify the data ingested into the platform. How much flexibility do you have? What kinds of controls are in place? Are there certain types of data that can or cannot be classified? Can the DMP tag online, mobile, and behavioral data accordingly? Determine the requirements and capabilities of the DMP vendor before committing.


Like any other platform, it’s immensely important that your DMP provide you with valuable analytics to help drive future performance. Ensure you get to see all analytic capabilities before committing to a vendor. Ask for example reports and dashboards related to your needs. How do they provide analytics? What kinds of analytics are available? Do they offer cross-channel analysis and cross-device analysis? Can behavioral data be matched against specific offers in your DMP? Will the analysis help you uncover customer intent? Before you start reviewing analytic capability, take the time to outline your business and marketing intelligence requirements.

Transfer and Integration

The true power of your DMP lies in its ability to use the data, classification, and analysis to enrich your marketing campaigns. In order to make this happen, your DMP needs to partner with various ad networks, DSPs, and media partners. Your DMP is primarily responsible for transferring your data securely to these networks and exchanges for proper media placement. It’s also critical that your DMP integrates seamlessly with your various marketing technologies.

What’s Next?

If you’re serious about getting deeper into DMPs, I suggest you work with a strong partner to help you navigate the technology landscape. A strong vendor can help you craft your business requirements and formalize a strong RFP. From there, they can help you choose the right platform for your business and provide technical architects to implement, integrate, and enhance.

If you need help with choosing, implementing, or servicing your DMP, Relationship One is always here to help.

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