Why DMPs Matter to Agencies and Partners


When it comes to daily living, humans are creatures of convenience. We want everything in one place, easy-to-access in order to maximize efficiency and ensure we are making the best decisions. Take getting dressed as an example. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have space in my apartment for three different closets in three different rooms. Nor would I want all my shirts in one room, my pants in another and my shoes in a third. I would constantly have to run back and forth matching items to put together an outfit before I finally looked decent enough to walk out my front door. It makes no sense. And, yet, that’s the setup so many companies have when it comes to customer data. It’s often the case that organizations are structured such that customer data sits in siloes, making it challenging for marketers and their partner agencies to deliver great customer experiences. The media team owns paid media data, CRM is responsible for known customer programs like loyalty and email, and analytics teams look after on-site and in-app metrics. Consider the all-too-common user experience of seeing one offer in paid media and receiving a different promotion via email. For agencies, this creates performance and operational challenges. Partners expected to deliver consistent campaign experiences may be blind to customer insights from touchpoints or channels beyond their direct management.

How can agencies and clients resolve this challenge of disconnected data driving disconnected experiences? By developing effective ways of working for people and technology.

It’s critical to have the right foundation of technology in place. Data management platforms (DMPs) are powerful tools that help companies break down data siloes to achieve a single view of their customers. While early DMP use cases were restricted to buy-side and sell-side media optimization, today experience DMPs enable the delivery of great customer experiences across all touchpoints – paid media, on-site, in app, and even offline. Partners rushing to differentiate themselves have an opportunity to help clients build strategies for connecting paid media messaging to personalization in other channels, and successfully navigate data siloes and technology partners to achieve this goal.

Earlier this year, Adobe fielded a survey to more than 500 marketing and IT professionals to understand their use and perceptions of DMPs. More than ¾ of respondents believe that an experience-based DMP is important to their organization’s success. One-quarter of respondents rely on agencies to run their DMPs, and another quarter co-own the DMP with agency partners. Survey respondents also indicated data management is the new data science – 79% of respondents noted that DMP skills will be essential for any digital marketer in the future, and that DMP skills will grow in demand in the next 5 years.

But having the right technology in place and building a team of experts to run the DMP is just half the puzzle. By their nature, DMPs require cross-functional work. Account leads must work closely with their direct clients and navigate organizational nuances at their client organizations. Key partners evolve as DMP stakeholders move from implementation to beginning use cases and beyond to advanced mature practices.

Leading marketers, agencies, and partners understand the importance of forming a Center of Excellence (COE) to ensure effective DMP management. These COEs should include representation from IT, marketing, and external partners. No two COEs are identical – each organization must work with stakeholders to prioritize and organize their work and teams in a manner that best suits their needs. While there isn’t a single blueprint that works for all situations, there are several best practices to keep in mind when establishing DMP COEs and people processes that apply to both brands and agencies:

  • Keep an Open Mind – Digital transformation requires new forms of cross-functional collaboration, and it’s important for agencies to consider how they can most effectively be involved. This may mean playing a bigger role in cross-functional discussions and engaging with campaign stakeholders beyond the direct client point of contact. Remember there is not a single one-size-fits-all approach, so different clients may require different models!
  • Try, Learn, Adapt, and Repeat – Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and treat your ways of working as another example of an activity that can be optimized over time.
  • Recognize that Success Comes in Many Forms – Lay out a roadmap and set milestones as success metrics to hit on the way to achieving bigger goals like launching a new use case or driving a performance increase. Recognize the incremental wins, whether it’s being able to build richer segments, revealing new audience insights, or being able to connect user journeys across channels.
  • Continuously Evolve – Client priorities will change, along with DMP roadmap and use cases. New product features will become available that unlock new opportunities. Your DMP practice and ways of working internally and with clients will naturally need to evolve to match business needs.

As brands seek to achieve a single view of their customers and look to partners and agencies to help them realize this vision, it’s important for both parties to develop effective ways of working for people and technology. Disconnected data drives disconnected experiences that frustrate customers and prevent campaigns from performing to goal. With a strong DMP partner as a technical foundation and a Center of Excellence built to withstand evolving ways of working, agencies and clients can ensure mutual success.


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