Do You Prefer Hybrids, Or Do You Stand Alone? The Ultimate DMP Debate
A few weeks ago, I had the chance to speak with Forrester's Principal Analyst Joanna O'Connell about a Wave report on data management platforms (DMPs). She asserted then that "the time is now" for DMPs. In follow up conversations with several people in the market, I have little doubt that O'Connell is right, but I think her statement failed to answer a bigger question: "What type of DMP?"
Shortly after chatting with O'Connell, I spoke with Turn's Matt Westover, GM of their Audience Suite, and Paul Alfieri, the company's VP of marketing. The two of them argued that the size of a DMP matters. More specifically, that the size of a DMP's "cookie footprint" is what matters, and that standalone DMPs can't get as big for as cheap as DMPs equipped with a media component.
"One of the big selling points of a DMP is the activation of data," Westover said. He added, "If you are a standalone DMP, you are waiting for syncs between the sites that have pixels. Those syncs don't happen in real-time." Alfieri echoed Westover, saying, "DMPs that don't have real-time feedback are not going to be as successful for a marketer."
The pair also claimed that there is a higher cost associated with building out a cookie pool for standalones. "The standalone DMP is going to pay money to have the pixel fire -- there's a cost associated with building out their cookie pool."
Considering Westover and Alfieri have a horse in the race, I tracked down Rowena Toguchi, senior direct of marketing communications at BlueKai, to hear the other side of the story. She said that while there is a cost associated with building out the cookie pool, it should be looked at as a trade off rather than an additional cost. What one might spend in building the cookie pool could be made up -- and then some -- in savings thanks to targeting the right segments. She claimed that a BlueKai client saved $2 million doing so with the help of BlueKai's data science team.
Toguchi argued that the underlying advantage in using a standalone is that it offers marketers more freedom and control of their data. "If you just use your demand-side platform (DSP) as your DMP, then your ability to activate that data will always be within that one execution layer. The horizontal approach to data targeting is what people are looking [for]," she said.
I asked O'Connell to shed some light on the topic of standalones vs. hybrids from her point of view. She said that she has yet to see a "preponderance of evidence" which would prove one as
"better" than the other, but did call it a "burning question" -- one that she gets from marketers often.
So, does a hybrid DMP/media component allow for a larger cookie pool to be generated? Westover and Alfieri think so, but Toguchi believes that BlueKai "probably has the biggest footprint because we're pulling in [data] from different channels." We might not be much closer to an answer to what type of DMP it's time for, but as O'Connell told me, "There are plenty of other things to consider in making the decision on a DMP."
You know what it sounds like to me? It sounds like the real answer is one of those lame "it depends on what the marketer is looking for" type of deals.