We’re living in tumultuous times in the online advertising industry. In one short decade we went from a relatively straightforward cookie based desktop advertising to the complex web of adtech players that are trying to tackle omni channel advertising. Data Management Platforms (DMP) try to make sense out of the massive streams of data that are generated by this complex system and are therefore key players in this effort. Advertisers and agencies have long understood the value of DMPs, however, publishers seem to underutilize these platforms as many do not realize how to use a DMP to its full potential. We think it’s time to fix this.

What do DMPs do?

DMPs are providing services that are important for both publishers and advertisers. They take in a variety of data such as audience data and campaign data from a variety of sources such as ad networks, DSPs, and SSPs, which they use to identify consumers and create audience profiles and feed this back into the system.

For example, it can identify that someone has been browsing on a laptop for a specific make-up brand, match this person to audience data which says this person is a 20-25 year old female, and use this information to allow an advertiser to send targeted ads to her in an iPad app via a DSP.

Especially handling audience data across channels is essential for advertisers because it allows them to understand and influence the purchase journey of a consumer. This sounds like it’s mainly benefitting advertisers but publishers win as well because these advertisers are demanding more ad inventory which drives up prices. However, because more and more publishers start to use DMPs their audiences are commoditized because now advertisers can find audience segments across publishers. This means that from a monetization perspective, it is not a benefit anymore to use a DMP, it has become a bare necessity. The only way publishers can get a competitive advantage now is when they feed in unique 1st party data, which is a privilege not many have.

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So DMPs are basically imposed on publishers?

Well yes, in a way. But that is why it is so important to utilize the capabilities of a DMP to its full extent. What publishers need to do is take advantage of the data their DMP provides regarding all their business activities, not just enrich their impressions for the sake of advertisers.

Okay, how does that work?

Advertisers want to target certain segments for a reason. One segment might be perfect for a specific product, another consists of influencers that steer others’ buying behavior, and another needs to be educated. Smart publishers apply the same reasoning to their own business in three major areas: user behavior, personalization, and user acquisition.

Getting to know how audience segments behave across a publisher’s offerings is essential for understanding where the value lies for this segment. Subsequently, this information can be used to improve specific parts of the offering. To do this, a publisher needs to be able to identify users need over several different channels such as social, email, and mobile. For example, an e-commerce player can discover a pattern where a typical audience segment of men between 40-50 years with high income seem to respond well to email marketing during daytime. Likely they are at work in an office and found some time to browse some products during a break but they do not convert. By being able to identify the same person on a tablet a push notification from their mobile app on the same evening would be super effective to close the deal. Based on this information, the publisher can decide to emphasize wishlist functionalities on their desktop website to facilitate those customers browsing during work hours. In this way data from a DMP informs product design.

Having a solid understanding of how users behave across your apps or websites provides another major opportunity: personalization. Combine behavioral data with demographic and interest data and you got a potent formula to serve a user exactly the way he or she wants to be served. This is especially relevant for content publishers as they can serve the user content that suits them perfectly, which makes them stick around longer and view more content. In addition, entire spin-offs can be created by identifying audience segments that share the same interests to cater to them even better.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, using data to inform a user acquisition strategy is key to running effective marketing campaigns. A DMP allows publishers to identify high value users and run lookalike ad campaigns to attract more of these. The result is a more targeted marketing campaign which results in a more engaged user base. Today, mobile is where people are spending most of their time and the competition for their attention is growing everyday. Publishers simply cannot afford to “pray-and-spray” when it comes to their ad campaigns, they need to identify, target, and cater to their high value users.

There are a lot more examples of how data can inform key business activities for publishers and we’re sure we’ll see some interesting use cases popping up in the near future. As both marketers and publishers really start to get a hang of this whole omnichannel thing, soon people will wonder how they ever lived without a DMP.