What is a DMP?

A data management platform is software that houses audience and campaign data — yep, a data warehouse — from all kinds of information sources. In digital advertising, these sources include publishers websites and apps on which advertisers buy advertising. A DMP offers a central location for marketers to access and manage data like mobile identifiers and cookie IDs to create targeting segments for their digital advertising campaigns.

Publishers also often use DMPs to house data about their users. They can then use that information to package audience segments of their own to sell to advertisers.

Why do marketers use DMPs?

With programmatic ad buying, advertisers are able to extend campaigns across a huge number of sites and apps through ad exchanges, ad networks and demand side platforms (DSPs). Data management platforms help marketers unify audience and performance data across all of those sources.

A DMP enables advertisers to build audience segments — criteria can include customer information, demographics, household income, past browsing behavior, purchasing information, location, device and so on — and then it can analyze how those segments performed. Based on that analysis, the campaigns can be continually optimized to reach those audience segments that perform best.

DMPs “talk” to DSPs

Data management platforms are where audience intelligence data is stored, analyzed and segmented. Demand side platforms (DSPs) are the software that actually execute programmatic ad buys. A DMP will pass audience segment data to the DSP for ad targeting. The DMP then continues to pull in performance results of those segments, analyzes which audiences are performing well or poorly and feeds that information back to the DSP. The DSP uses that to optimize ongoing campaign bidding and targeting.

What are the big DMP players?

As with other areas of advertising technology, there have been acquisitions of DMPs by large marketing platform providers such as Adobe and Oracle, as well as by data aggregators like Nielsen.

Some of the major DMP technology sellers are Adobe AudienceManager (Adobe acquired DMP Demdex in 2011), Oracle DMP (Oracle acquired BlueKai in 2014), eXelate (now owned by Nielsen), Krux and Lotame. Additionally, some DSPs now have their own DMP technology - Turn is an example of a DSP that also offers clients DMP technology.