What is data management platform (DMP)?

A data management platform (DMP) collects, organizes, and activates first-, second-, and third-party audience data from various online, offline, and mobile sources. It then uses that data to build detailed customer profiles that drive targeted advertising and personalization initiatives.

A DMP makes these anonymized customer profiles available to other tools—ad exchanges, demand-side platforms (DSPs), and supply-side platforms (SSPs)—to improve targeting, personalization, and content customization.

A DMP is the backbone of digital marketing, allowing companies to understand their customers better.

DMPs and data

As more customer data is created and collected, marketers struggle to use it effectively. Agencies and publishers try to find better ways to buy, sell, and manage it. How do you capture all this valuable first-, second-, and third-party data, turn it into insights, and then activate it to drive outcomes?

The answer is with a robust data management platform (DMP) that can be used across program and with all types of data, including:

First-party data Data collected from website visits, CRM systems, social media, subscriptions, mobile, and apps.
Second-party data Someone else’s first-party data. It is derived from a mutually beneficial relationship with another company (a partner, supplier, etc.) with whom you share data.
Third-party data This data comes from websites and social media platforms other than your own and can be used to reach a wider audience. It’s needed to augment first-party data so that marketers can increase scale and reach and improve personalization.

DMPs and first-party data

Today there is a greater focus on first-party data. There have been doubts about whether data management platforms can effectively collect and manage this type of data. The truth is that DMPs do manage first-, third-, and second-party data. DMPs typically pull first-party data from CRM software or company-owned channels such as websites, landing pages, or email. For third-party data, DMPs connect to third-party data brokers or corporate partners.

Another challenge has to do with the way different industries operate. For example, there are specific industries where consumers more readily submit personally identifiable information (PII). Direct-to-consumer retail is one example. Brands in this sector are built on the foundation of first-party data and the creative ways they activate it. In industries, such as consumer packaged goods, first-party data is scarce. Few consumers need or want to share their information with the company that produces their favorite candy bar. For these companies to get the data they need, innovation is critical. Data management platform vendors are augmenting their platforms with powerful technologies such as identity graphs. This helps brands connect their data across first, second-, and third-party sources to build vast data lakes that can be segmented and activated in various ways.

Why being data-driven isn’t enough

Garbage data begets garbage results. Thanks to digital marketing, you can run metrics on just about every aspect of customer experience. You can collect data on almost everything. You can become overrun in data.

So instead of focusing on being data-driven, concentrate on being quality data-driven.

Quality data ensures that you deliver targeted, personalized messages that support and move customers along the purchasing process in a natural way. Defining what kind of data is most useful in messaging, engagement, and ultimately ROI is crucial. Nonessential data can compromise your marketing automation system and get in the way of building a 360-degree customer view. A sophisticated DMP will allow you to safely analyze and refine your datasets so that only the most accurate data is used in your marketing efforts.

How does a DMP work?

Technology makes it easier than ever to understand your customers at an almost cellular level. Analyzing both first- and third-party demographic, contextual, and behavioral data about customers and campaigns allows you to home in on who your customers are and place them into targeted audience segments.

Most people have visited a website to look at a product and then noticed ads for that product on every digital channel they interact with for the next few days/weeks. That’s a DMP at work. Let’s look at how that is done.

For example, a data management platform has categories—say “baking enthusiasts”—who can be targeted with ads. Anyone who’s visited a baking website or blog with a DMP tracking code might be categorized as a “baking enthusiast.” Nearly every website contains a tracking code that monitors visitors as they travel the internet; a DMP can tie a person’s desktop activity to their mobile web browsing habits for an even better view of a person’s online activities.

Marketers can also link "look-alike" profiles that share attributes—such as all women over 30 who watch The Cooking Channel—into an audience to receive the same marketing messages.

Once they've gathered the data, DMPs organize it to build an anonymized profile of each customer. DMPs then share audience information with digital advertising platforms and in-house marketing channels so those platforms know who should be served certain ads or content. But marketers can’t just log into a DMP and download piles of personal information. The DMP sanitizes and masks data so that marketers never see names, addresses, or other personal data.

DMPs collect personal data; they don’t share it with marketers.

How do DMPs help marketing?

By gathering, organizing, and sharing data, DMPs help marketers design targeted ad campaigns, reach beyond known customers to look-alike prospects, and drive more highly personalized, cross-channel interactions. The benefits include more efficient ad programs which can lead to more customer purchases.


A customer data platform (CDP) is a data management system that consolidates and integrates data from multiple channels and sources to build a single, unified profile around each customer. This data is then used to personalize marketing messages.

Customer data platforms influence all types of marketing. CDPs mainly work with first-party data, but they also:

  • Work with both anonymous and known data—name, email address, phone number, and other types of personally identifiable information.
  • Store data over long time periods to build in-depth, accurate customer profiles that can be used to nurture customer relationships.
  • Share data with any system that needs it.

Customer data platforms can draw data from CRM systems and DMPs and send information back with them. The three systems work well together.

  • Data management platforms drive new prospects and leads to you.
  • Customer data platforms help you connect and engage (PDF) with those prospects and leads.
  • CRM systems help you manage your ongoing relationship with prospects/customers.

When it comes to CRM systems, DMPs, and customer data platforms, you don’t have to choose one instead of the other two. They all serve valuable roles that can improve the effectiveness of your martech stack and marketing campaigns.

CDP and DMP: What’s the difference and when to use?

What is a mobile data management platform?

If you don’t leverage the most sophisticated mobile advertising solutions, you will fail to capture the consumer’s already limited attention.

But why do you need a mobile DMP? A mobile data management platform is a centralized marketing solution that integrates, organizes, and parses out first- and third-party consumer data to simplify audience creation, analytics, and execution. A mobile DMP should support the following capabilities:

First-party data ingestion

Easily import mobile audience data into a centralized DMP to 1) complement an existing data management platform or 2) use as a standalone mobile marketing solution.

Data classification

Once mobile data is centralized, a mobile DMP should allow data to be organized in hierarchical and intuitive taxonomies.

Mobile-specific audience data marketplace

A mobile DMP should provide integrated access to third-party, mobile-specific consumer data to extend audience reach and prospecting.

Data export and partner integrations

Transfer data out of the central mobile DMP platform to a mobile partner ecosystem.

Cross-device targeting

Cross-device targeting is a critical feature that every mobile DMP should provide. Cross-device targeting helps unify campaigns across different mobile device types and tie mobile and web campaigns together for better cross-channel measurement and optimization.

How to choose the right DMP

Choosing the right DMP means aligning your expectations as a marketer with your technology stack. For most businesses today, that means selecting a DMP that is people- and device-based, leverages available compliant third-party data, and can traverse between known and unknown customer data.

For forward-thinking marketers looking three, five, or 10 years into the future, consider the nature of how online experiences across devices and channels have evolved and what is now the norm for consumers. No matter the industry, the expectation is to anticipate the needs and wants of customers and deliver services seamlessly across all digital properties. But this is only possible through the proper management and activation of data. For that reason, a DMP’s value is unrivaled—it helps centralize data for use across an organization.

Why you need a DMP?

A data management platform centralizes the control of all campaign and customer/audience data. Having a centralized data solution will help your marketing team manage and analyze customer data to better design, target, and optimize campaigns that target the right prospects at the right time and boost ROI.

With a DMP, you can easily identify customer activity, unify your customer data, and roll out successful campaigns. To break it down, you can:

  1. Manage multiple online campaigns across different devices
  2. Connect all customer and campaign data—from known to anonymous, online or offline, deterministic, or probabilistic
  3. Maximize data assets
  4. Maximize segmentation and scale marketing campaigns
  5. Prevent data leakage with established partners
  6. Prepare for a programmatic future
  7. Optimize marketing campaigns to improve reach, response rates, and conversion
  8. Control advertising costs and improve overall ROI for your marketing efforts
  9. Drive accountability within marketing and advertising

Features you want with a DMP


Advertising data integration

Assemble and use data from as many sources as needed.

  • Ingest first-party online, cross-device, and offline data
  • Categorize and assemble data into targetable audience segments
  • Expand audience reach through a data marketplace
  • Enrich first-party data with second- and third-party data
  • Monitor data ingestion and diagnose/troubleshoot issues
  • Highlight the number of times user profiles are discovered and categorized
  • Show views on the trending inventory

Audience building

Identify the right audiences as campaign targets and expand reach to the most suitable audience groups.

  • Use look-alike modeling to increase the number of prospects
  • Use taxonomy permission tools for second-party data sharing
  • Identify classifications that are related to a specific audience via audience discovery reports
  • Find new audiences or expand your current target audience during campaign planning to improve performance

Cross-device targeting

Create customized and consistent cross-device marketing campaigns delivery.

  • Expand your audience; bring in third-party data across different marketing channels and devices
  • Use a private ID graph to extend your reach and leverage your ID linkages for better cross-device customer targeting
  • Reach prospects across the web and social channels with a cross-device extension

Audience analysis

Know which marketing campaigns perform well and which devices drive the most conversions and sales. Constantly refine your target audience and build campaigns using the most recent information.

  • Access actionable insights about your target audience through robust audience analytics reports
  • Use precampaign analytics to understand who makes up your audience—before running an impression
  • Discover targeting accuracy with a post-campaign analysis
  • Remove those who have already converted with audience suppression reports

More information about DMPs

The Forrester report gave Oracle CrowdTwist the highest possible scores in 16 criteria: