Technology has transformed the way companies use data. Today’s companies need more data to streamline their marketing campaigns and to target their products for the right audience. But it isn’t just about gathering information – companies also need to be able to use this information and integrate it to their service.

New data platforms have emerged from these basic needs and one of the most popular one is the data management platform (DMP). DMPs have quickly transformed the way companies gather and use information. This has also led to the emergence of unique DMPs, with different functions to help provide benefits for companies. Picking the right platform from the crowd can be difficult, especially if you are unsure what the platform is all about.

If you want to improve the way your business collects and gathers data, this introduction will help you understand what are the core functions of DMPs. You’ll also understand what are the benefits to using a DMP and how you can pick the right platform for your business needs.

Introduction to Data Management Platforms (DMP)

© | Mathias Rosenthal

In this article, we will discuss 1) what Data Management Platforms are, 2) the main features of good DMPs, 3) the benefits of using DMPs, and 4) how to start using a DMP.


Although DMPs have been around for quite a while now, they are not very well known for companies, especially outside of the marketing industry. This is partly down to the difficulty in understanding what is unique about DMPs and the functions of using the platform.

There are a few ways to define DMPs. The simple definition of DMP is that they are similar to platforms, which save and store data. DMP is special software that stores the data but also organizes it and presents the information in a manner that help users to make better decisions, especially in regards of marketing.

In technical terms, the platform’s operations can be explained as the dispersion of information from different data sources and the resulting segmentation of this information. The information DMP uses often comes from the users’ online and offline data, such as sales records or site visitors. But it also uses third party data sources to ensure the information is the most accurate and useful for the user.

The above definition might seem like DMPs are database systems, but they are different to a typical database. Although you could technically store all sorts of information in DMPs, it is mainly used to store data that helps in advertising strategies. In addition, the ability to analyze and present the information in segments is a core aspect of DMPs. Essentially DMPs are all about understanding customer information in a more analytic manner.

Three main functions

It is easier to understand the definition of DMPs by looking at its core functions. As you’ll see later in the guide, good DMPs are much more than just these three functions, but they will help understand the benefits and uses of DMPs.

The three functions of DMPs include:

  • Import data – DMP gathers information from the three sources mentioned above: online and offline data, as well as third party data. It imports all this information to the platform.
  • Find segments – As the information is implemented, DMP starts to look for segments. These can be defined by the user according to their needs. Perhaps you’ll need to find audiences that are from a specific demographic and so on. You can also change and adjust these segments along the way.
  • Send instructions – Finally, the platform will finally send instructions to help users utilize the above segments and data in marketing. It can fine-tune your marketing strategies in an efficient way.

The above is just an overall look at the functions and each point is delved in deeper at the next section.

What is the difference between DMP and DSP?

You might have heard about demand-side platforms (DSP) and you might be confused whether DMP and DSP are essentially the same thing. There is a big difference in terms of use and function.

DSPs are platforms used for buying advertising, often based on the information provided by DMPs. Often information flows directly from a DMP to a DSP. While DMP will provide marketers a lot of useful information, the platform itself won’t allow putting this information into use.

The difference between the two platforms is beginning to fade a bit. This is because many technology providers of DMPs also provide DSPs. This often provides users a single platform experience, which in some instances can be more convenient.


The above three functions can be viewed in a more detailed manner as well. The below features give you a better and more detailed understanding of the benefits marketers and publishers will enjoy using DMPs.

Data collection

Data collection is naturally the core function of DMPs. It is essentially about the first core function: importing data. DMPs can collect and import data in a number of ways. Data collection is usually focused on importing data from the company’s marketing systems and platforms. This could be through e-commerce and customer platforms, e-mail, social media and other similar sources.

Data collection also helps to match data to similar information. For example, DMP allows the recognition of customer IDs that then will be linked to information found during the data collection. Therefore, it makes it easier to match information to specific customers, even in cases of use of anonymous ID.

Finally, data collection through DMP doesn’t take place at a specific time, but it is a continuous process. Therefore, you’ll continue to collect data as it becomes available. This guarantees the end-product is always up to date. Furthermore, you should find a DMP system, which allows you to import offline data as well. Not all data is necessarily online and, for example, if you want to include in-store behavior to your data, it is crucial to be able to implement offline data.

Data classification

Data classification falls under the second category of creating segments based on the data. This feature of DMP is all about providing enough information to define groups, which can then be used to improve marketing.

These can be organized in clusters and segments of your choosing. DMPs allow you to define your own groups based on the needs of your business project and campaign.

Data classification essentially allows you create audience profiles, which can be used later for marketing purposes.

Data analysis

The segments can then be used for data analysis. You can utilize data analysis in different ways depending on your specific needs. Most common examples include using the data to estimate price for a new product and understanding the reach of your new marketing campaign.

DMPs can also use the data to suggest new target markets. Including a huge amount of data to your analysis, the platform can find connections you might have missed. In fact, DMPs can teach you a lot about your customers.

Often the data analysis includes a certain level of report creation. Overall, the above information can be used directly for advertising and marketing purposes. This can be anything from direct advertising to website personalization and so on. You often also have options to deciding how the report lays out the data. This is especially helpful when you are looking to use the data in order to find new connections.

Data transfer

Like data analysis, data transfer also falls under the third core function of sending instructions. The most used data transfer often includes the provision of access to data vendors. The data you gather through a DMP can often be used by other agencies and companies and many are willing to purchase this information.


Finally, a good DMP will provide the user the option of scalability. A good platform makes it easy to tweak the data collection and data analysis according to your needs. This is especially important for growing businesses.

Furthermore, the amount of data available for companies is growing constantly and you don’t want to limit your business approach by leaving out certain data points. A DMP must be able to use all possible data points efficiently in an instant to guarantee your data provides the maximum benefits to your business.


The above dealt with the essence of DMPs and the aspects behind a good platform. While DMPs can be used by companies operating in different fields, they are most commonly used by agencies, publishers and marketers.

Typically, these organizations benefit from the opportunity to control vast amount of data in order to make decisions. Businesses that are looking to streamline their business approach or find more growth opportunities would definitely benefit from the service.

DMPs are also crucial for improving the way a company communicates with its audience. If there is a need to boost marketing campaigns or to ensure you reach the correct audience, then a DMP is beneficial. Essentially, DMPs can provide its users with better return on investment (ROI). This is down to it being able to focus the company’s efforts towards the sectors and segments, which provide the biggest returns for the business.

As the above highlights, marketers and other such agencies have traditionally championed the use of DMPs. But these days’ publishers are also using the platform in order to gain better understanding of the readership. For example, the Wall Street Journal collects data this way, as it helps streamline the financial services ads.

So, what are the benefits that drive marketers, publishers and agencies towards these platforms? The key benefits DMPs provide to users include:

  • Making it easier to research audience and their preferences. The automatization of DMPs ensures you get access to the data and the recommendations quickly. More traditional data collection methods could in fact mean the information you draw from the data is incorrect. But DMPs can make all the three key functions almost instantaneously.
  • Getting the relevant messages across in a convenient and efficient manner – improves communication. DMPs area also useful for their flexibility. The huge amounts of data can be used in a number of ways and the information can easily be engineered to fit different aspects of business operations.
  • Data research becomes easier and efficient – DMPs offer an alternative to fragmented alternatives, which often focus on predetermined segments.
  • Retargeting marketing campaigns is easier, which in turn can guarantee your business is talking to the right audience at all times. It removes part of the cost factor of retargeting, as you don’t need to re-launch a data collection and analysis process.
  • DMPs scalability makes it possible to ensure your marketing efforts are up to date depending on the growth of your company and its needs. The more data points you are able to include to your platform the more accurate and usable your information is going to be.
  • Improving of website optimisation – marketing campaigns such as search engine optimisation (SEO) become much more straightforward.

The above mentioned benefits are the main advantages of using DMPs. Naturally the importance of each might depend on your own needs. Marketers might take advantage of different benefits to publishers and so on.


After you understand the benefits of DMPs to your business, then you need to find the right platform for you to use. Starting to use a DMP isn’t difficult, but you should do enough research beforehand to ensure you find the right product for your needs.

There are certain security and ethical aspects you naturally need to keep in mind when looking into using a DMP. Furthermore, there are a number of platforms available – some more suited to certain needs – and research into different platforms is crucial to ensure make the most of the product.

The following are the key steps you need to take and the essential factors you need to keep in mind when looking into DMPs.

Identify your needs

When you are starting your research into DMPs, keep your own data needs at the forefront. Identify the data that is most usable to your business and set out the goals you want to achieve with your DMP. This can help narrow down the platforms.

It is important to note that implementation, especially during the initial phase, is not done overnight. The process can be time consuming, so it is crucial to have a good understanding of your goals and needs before the implementation can begin.

Security and ethical aspects of using DMPs

One important aspect you need to keep in mind is security. DMPs collect vast amounts of data and you need to make sure the platform you choose pays enough attention to this aspect. You need to make sure the collection of data doesn’t breach any information laws in your region and you naturally need to make sure the data you gather remains safe and secure. You don’t want other companies gain access to your data without your knowledge.

As mentioned briefly above, the data collection done by DMP also raises ethical questions. You need to be clear about the kind of data you are collecting and how you inform your clients about the data collection, its storage, and its use. You need to ensure your DMP keeps consumer rights and preferences at the forefront.

Open and private DMP

There are two main types of DMPs: open and private DMPs.

  • Open DMPs – if you opt for open DMP, the access to the data is more open for third party agencies. This could mean that advertisers are directly operating the open platform for you. Data collected with open DMPs is often related to website information, demographic and audience data and other advertising related data.
  • Private DMPs – private DMPs often are used together with open DMPs, but they can also be used as a standalone platform. These gather data, which only aggregates the proprietary of marketing data. This includes data such as information on client purchases and user profiles.

Picking the right program

Finally, with the above in mind you can start looking into the different DMPs in the market. The industry has developed fast in the past few years and there are a number of options available.

Your choice of platform might be influenced whether you are looking to operate the platform yourself or have an agency do it for you. Whichever approach works for you, always ensure you look into a few alternatives before making the choice.

There have been numerous studies into the best DMPs in the market. The below programmes are not only the most common on the market, but were also chosen by the Forrester Wave report as some of the best in business.

  • Adobe AudienceManager
  • X+1
  • Blue Kai
  • Aggregate Knowledge
  • CoreAudience
  • Knotice
  • nPario

The list is not comprehensive and you could look at other platforms as part of your research. But the above products are great for new users and provide many of the benefits and core function mentioned in this guide.


The above shows that DMPs have become an integral part of company operations. The benefits of a proper DMP platform can transform your business’ approach and help it not only grow but also to improve its services and products. DMPs are quite simply the embodiment of the big data approach to business and marketing.

DMPs have grown in importance in the past few years, as the importance of data has become more evident for a company survival. By understanding the benefits and the core functions of the platform, you can find the right approach to using a DMP as part of your marketing and publishing strategy.

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