Demystifying Marketing Data Platforms

Read this article to learn how to effectively use customer data to build successful marketing strategies.

Successful marketing efforts require useful customer data to facilitate effective campaigns, accurate analytics, and correct reporting. But despite this, the technology that enables the application of data has become quite complicated, bringing confusion among many marketers. Besides the main marketing database, today's marketers also need a data management platform (DMP) as well as a customer data platform (CDP) for proper management of the data requirements. Both are quite critical and perform core functions. They should be designed to work in unison and seamlessly to lead to a great marketing technology (martec) capability.

Below is an in-depth look at each of these components:

Marketing database

Marketing databases are the most developed data platforms. They have proven useful to brands as they have relied on them to execute successful campaigns–both direct mail and email. For large direct marketers, they have always appreciated the great importance of having a single comprehensive view of their customers to enable proper analysis and reporting.
As a single source of data, a marketing database enhances the effectiveness and efficiency of a well-rounded marketing plan. It avails some crucial functions that are not offered by other platforms.

These include offline ID management, data hygiene, big data analytics, and possible real-time interaction support.

Marketing data platforms

These are comprehensive platforms that assist in managing all data related to prospective and existing customers across various channels and media. This enables targeting, analytics, audience creation, and measurements.

The roles of marketing data platforms

These platforms, in reality, help marketers with reliable data management and governances and help in comprehensive identity discovery and resolution. Moreover, they offer advanced toolset support, and to be precise, analytics and orchestration. On top of that, the platforms provide marketers with in-depth understanding, analytics, marketing orchestration, and measurement.

The players in marketing data platforms

So, which are the parties involved with marketing data platforms? These include the marketing service providers, the system integrators, and the typical custom-made solutions.

Data Management Platforms

Data management platforms (DMPs) are precisely platforms for housing crucial digital data like customer data, including cookie IDs, mobile identifiers, and campaign data. The platforms also assists digital roles such as advertisers and marketers in building customer segments and performance. The building of these segments is based on past browsing patterns, demographic data, location, device, and others.

Roles of data management platforms

DMPs help to manage cookie audiences across the company's own and paid-for media. They also enable brands to have a true picture of impressions from one audience to another, hence offering great personalized and relevant experiences. Besides that, they serve as an entry to second and third-party data in that brands use them to buy third party data or to collaborate with other entities to share second-party data. Of the various roles of DMPs, the greatest value is realized when the data is utilized to personalize the experience on the sites. But there is one major drawback of the DMPs: there is no personally identifiable information (PII).
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Benefits of DMPs

Some of the benefits of DMPs include the following:

Assist in recognizing new customers and audiences
Some of the great features of some DMPs that can help you to identify and target new customer groups include lookalike modelling techniques and audience extension.

Combines data and breakdown silos
DMPs assemble all of your data on one platform, enabling you and your team to have a cohesive view of the customers.

Give continuous results
The platforms are not just one-off solutions but are rather tools that facilitate long-term strategy through constant and ongoing reporting

DMPs Players

Some of the key DMP players include:
Salesforce Krux
Adobe Audience Manager
Oracle Blue Kai

Taking personalization a notch higher

As mentioned earlier, DMPs are an ideal solution for unifying data gathered from several touchpoints because they assist in creating a single customer view. With the solutions, you can have a better understanding of the customers and offer more personalized services.

What would happen if you went an extra step and combined the customer data with online feedback? Here is the thing, it can bring incredible results. When we talk about customer data, we typically refer to segmentation data, which mainly includes geographic data, demographic information, psychological data, and behavioral data, among others.

These types of customer data allow you to have a better understanding of the customers from whom you are gathering the data, see how greatly different the customer segments are, and how contrasting their behaviors are (according to the online feedback). With such insights, you can personalize the entire interaction and journey for the customers.

Customer data platforms (CDP)

A customer data platform is software that collects and classifies or organizes customer data across several touchpoints and is accessible to other systems, software, and marketing initiatives. In essence, CDPs put together and structure real-time data into distinct, consolidated customer data. CDP aims to aggregate customer data and stitch them into unified customer profiles to enable marketers to use it easily.

The platforms develop customer profiles by integrating information from a myriad of sources (first, second, and third-party sources). The sources include:
  • An entity's CRM and DMP

  • Web forms

  • Emails activities

  • Social media activity

  • Transactional systems

  • Website and e-commerce behavioral data

Roles of customer data platforms (CDPs)

CDPs play two very critical roles not performed by the earlier two data solutions: marketing databases and data management platforms:

Real-time personally identifiable information (PII)-based audience management
With the help of signals from your various owned media or your site, you can develop audiences based on real people and utilize that to have tailored offers or experiences.

Giving real-time identity resolution
Although most brands have succeeded in offline ID management to link consumers via customer data integration (CDI), only a few have adequately made it in the management of digital data integration, especially linking the digital interactions to the offline CDI side. This comes in handy in understanding customers' touchpoints in different media and channels. Besides that, it is crucial for accurate fractional attribution.


Large organizations require all these tools for a fully functional data-driven marketing system. Such companies need the marketing database to bring together all data and have significant marketing insights. They need DMP to handle large media spread across demand-side platforms (DSPs) and to use third-party data. Moreover, they need CDP to link customers between these two platforms with instantaneous ID management. However, small companies can rely on CDPs for a start. This is because they have numerous audience management functions normally visible on campaign automation tools. The best part is that this is at a small fraction of the total cost.

Since data collection remains a messy task, it needs a database or data platforms to offer space to do raw data analysis and data hygiene. As such, every organization needs an optimal combination of the three tools. Each organization must understand its current position and where it is headed to determine the right combination for its case.

Article by Tony John
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including,, and many more.

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