By Julian Baring, General Manager-North America, Adform
The era of the standalone data management platform (DMP)—along with tech point solutions in general—is rapidly coming to an end. For a lot of brands that are hugely invested in their current tech stacks, this represents an unpleasant reality. However, on the backdrop of tightening budgets, an increasingly restrictive privacy landscape and the continued deprecation of third-party cookies, it’s a reality that marketers must acknowledge in their 2021 planning.
When DMPs first hit the ad tech scene, they were presented as much-needed point solutions that could help make sense of the mountains of data that companies should have access to in real-time. Conceptually, the DMP was supposed to serve as the lynchpin of the marketer’s tech stack. For it to provide value, it needed to seamlessly tie together a brand’s content management system, demand-side platforms, dynamic creative optimization platforms and all other fragmented elements of the marketing chain. In and of itself, the DMP is useless. It was in the connections made within the platforms, and the way in which that structured data could then be put to use, where marketers were supposed to find value.
Unfortunately, today’s DMPs are failing to make those connections that are so vital to their utility. These standalone platforms have proven to be extremely expensive to license—and even more so to operate. Many companies are heavily invested in these platforms, and yet they’re failing to deliver on the fundamental actionable connections that they promise.
It’s not that DMPs need to vanish. Far from it. At their core, DMPs can provide value — just not as point solutions. To realize the vision they were intended to fulfill, DMPs need to be integrated into a more comprehensive solution.
At present, DMPs are delivering poor results for marketers because there is significant degradation of data fidelity as data is passed through different parts of the stack—from the ad server to DMP, DMP to DCO, DMP to DSP, and so forth. This degradation has always been a challenge, and it’s about to get a lot worse. After all, most DMPs are based on third-party cookies, which have been degrading for years and were finally given a 2022 expiration date with Google’s announcement that the Chrome browser will cease to support them. This is a death knell in what was already a struggle within DMPs, given that cookie integrations aren’t real-time due to the need to match data from many different point solutions.
As DMPs continue to fall short of the utility they promise, brands need to turn their attention to comprehensive, more sustainable options. What the market needs today is data management within a comprehensive, interoperable platform—one where data can flow seamlessly, without degradation from point to point.
Today’s marketers operate in a platform-based world, and the loss of the currency that our industry was built on—namely the third-party cookie—deepens the implications of this reality. For brands, it can be daunting to confront the need to turn a ship with the size and magnitude of their current tech stack investments, but the first pivot must begin now.
Going into 2021, marketers need to get their arms around the reality of data degradation within their stacks. If they haven’t already, they need to establish benchmarks for data fidelity and ROI now and continue to measure in the coming months. More importantly, they need to prepare themselves to act on what they uncover.
The shifting reality of today’s privacy and ad tech landscape is limiting brands’ ability to accurately measure, target and attribute within their campaigns. It’s an unsustainable reality and one that marketers can’t afford to turn a blind eye to any longer.
Julian Baring is Adform‘s General Manager Americas. He started his career in agencies at BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi before co-founding travel-site Weekends.com. He has more than 21 years of digital and technology industry operating experience across a variety of management roles including marketing, sales, corporate and business development, operations. Julian has previously held senior executive roles at Vodafone, Operative, Facilitate Digital and most recently Adslot. He has worked and lived across the UK, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Julian has an MBA from Oxford University and studied his Bachelor of Arts at Brown University, USA.