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Ever since its inception, the data management platform (DMP) has been revered as the panacea for the modern marketer deluged with numbers and information. Its purpose is to combine a mass of disparate consumer data for audience management and planning and for media optimization. But apparently there's a problem…

DMPs aren't meeting the expectations of many marketers.

According to a newly released AdAge white paper, What Marketers Want—Picking the Right DMP, most data management platforms are found to be profoundly disappointing in how well they’re meeting marketers’ needs. The white paper was based on a survey sponsored by Neustar, which found the sources of these frustrations to be numerous and varied. Among them the top complaints that marketers have about DMPs are:

  • Technology limitations
  • Data quality issues
  • Vendor limitations
  • Data security issues

In addition, Neustar executives say, “Marketers have been frustrated by the long cycles required to deploy a DMP. Although a DMP investment is predicated on a strong return on investment, marketers and that measuring the actual efficiencies can be difficult with large, decentralized media buying structures.”

On digging more deeply, the survey found that many of the frustrations that marketers face with their DMPs are a function not of the product itself, but of the understanding, expectation, preparation, implementation, and support of the DMP within the organization using it.

Another critical finding was that many marketers make DMP decisions without thinking beyond digital, in part because of the industry’s current emphasis on programmatic buying. Accordingly, as discussed in the whitepaper, “Maximizing the impact of a DMP requires thinking about customer journeys both offline and online. Failure rates on digital-only DMPs are very high, because companies find that after 12 to 18 months the DMP isn’t providing the anticipated value.”

So, what can marketers do to reduce these failure rates and maximize the benefits they derive from their DMPs? Based on findings of the survey, they can take several measures:

  • Know the right questions to ask a prospective DMP partner or vendor
  • Don’t rely exclusively on your agency or vendor to understand the technology for you—it’s your brand
  • Make sure the DMP investment has interdepartmental support

  • Before buying, find an internal expert who really understands what a proposed
DMP does—and can do for your brand

  • Work toward an organizational position that helps handle data across departments and channels

  • Take it slowly; you don’t need to do it all at once

  • Keep watching as DMPs and technology continue to evolve—and be prepared to adjust to take advantage of what they can offer


In the end, it was found that a truly robust solution “will need to manage internal customer data across departments, merge it with the anonymous data of a DMP for optimal segmenting and targeting, and then apply the right attribution system to measure the results of those targeting efforts.”

To read more about how to find a better DMP and get the most out of it, download the white paper, What Marketers Want—Picking the Right DMP.