Do You Really Need a Standalone DMP in 2018?

Over 50% of businesses currently use one, but one-in-five are questioning that decision, according to Gartner.  This year’s Forrester’s DMP Wave Report also raised some interesting questions.  Here, Kristen Sesto, DMP and data consultant, Encore Digital Media, outlines some areas to focus on when assessing your DMP needs for 2018.

1. Do you really need a standalone DMP?
Several leading DMPs in the Forrester Wave report are also demand-side platforms (DSPs), meaning clients have the benefit of collecting data and using it to buy inventory in the same platform. This means no data transfer process and less data drop-off due to low network overlap rates (and in markets where scale is everything – this is important).

For years I’ve advised the best solution for a truly unified data strategy is an unchained DMP; but given factors like the above I can now argue it both ways.

If a combined DSP/DMP vendor has the best overall product functionality for your business, such as a unique custom reporting tool or fantastic professional services capabilities, that may prove to be a better option. Standalone DMPs also come at a higher price tag and may not add enough value for a positive ROI for organisations that don’t use the platform outside of their display activity.

When DMPs were in their infancy, I think they could’ve been seen as an end-all, be-all solution for collecting and activating customer data across marketing channels. Many marketers have got it right, but I don’t things have quite played out as originally expected. One cause for this could be how marketers have handled DMP ownership and use within teams and across organisations. It can be difficult to get everyone on the same page.

Most DSPs already have data collection and segmentation capabilities that customers benefit from, even without a full DMP add-on. It may pay off to outline and quantify what exactly the added value is with a standalone DMP.


2. Product capability aside, do you know how to leverage key platform capabilities?
In the most recent DMP industry report, 9 of 11 vendors were rated low in either ‘analytics and audience insights offerings’ or ‘custom report creation’. If the overwhelming majority of vendors are being rated poorly, what else might this mean?

As a DMP customer who works with reporting and analytics tools daily, I would argue that the platforms aren’t always the issue. What could also be causing dissatisfaction is a general misunderstanding of how best to apply insights and learnings to media and marketing plans, and how a crowded and confusing data ecosystem further contributes to the problem.

There’s a disconnect between data reporting expectations and reality, and it isn’t entirely product-related. Regardless of what type of DMP solution you have, ask your team if it’s worth having an updated training session to better understand new and existing functionality. Most of these platforms are sold as self-serve, but even the most detailed decks or product wikis aren’t as valuable as a good hour of an expert’s time.


3. Are you prepared to dig deep on data leakage and security?
The same report evaluated 11 leading DMPs, with most of them performing well in data security as well as data-leakage prevention. It is important to understand that having a DMP doesn’t necessarily mean your data is ‘safe’. Those looking to invest in the future should understand that data leakage and/or data security is more than a checkbox to include in your RFP.

Research is needed to understand what data leakage actually means to your business, how it works technically, and where potential threats exist. Who will have access to your DMP and data? Make sure you know what happens after data leaves your DMP and arrives somewhere else. Do you have the ability to deactivate an audience segment or remove tags from pages after a campaign is over to ensure the data isn’t used for other purposes?

Data leakage is as much a matter of trust and what is included in contract terms as it is with what technical safeguards are built into the tech.


4. Does your DMP support your third-party data strategy?
Not covered extensively in the report, is this nonetheless important point. Third-party data providers are notoriously vague with their category descriptions and there are no clear industry standards when it comes to collection methodologies.

There are some major questions around where data is located (by country/region), the device from which it’s sourced (mobile web vs in-app data vs desktop), and if it is modelled, inferred, or predictive. Caution is required when dealing with third-party data and more open conversations need to be had with all parts of the ecosystem that supply it – especially as GDPR approaches. Stick with a solution that will provide as much transparency and support as possible.

This industry changes constantly; and what was previously seen as best-practice may not be today. As we move into 2018, I hope the new year serves as a reminder to consider each contract renewal carefully, and base investment decisions on every resource available.

Guy O'Brien