Commentary

Marketers Must Measure their Data Footprint

Big data, small data and everything in between are the talk of marketing town these days, but many in the industry are missing the point when it comes to data management platforms (DMPs): size matters. Knowing the footprint has a dramatic impact not only on the DMP's ability to “activate” a marketer’s audience, but it also demonstrates the accuracy of the analytics it produces. 

Activation of the DMP clients' audience is something we hear about pretty often. The most basic job of the DMP is to help marketers centralize their once-siloed data and shine a spotlight on consumer behavior across all digital channels. But that can be a big job, and, to put it plainly, the size of the DMP -- and its footprint -- matter enormously in terms of how effective it can be. 

Take a segment of a marketer's audience that has shopped in its store at some point during the past year. These customers have been clearly identified, even to the point where the marketer groups past purchase levels into various tiers to calculate their value to the business. This knowledge is not only incredibly valuable but also represents a scarce resource. The marketer will want to ensure that it can reach as many of them as possible with a clear, targeted brand message.

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If the DMP has a small footprint, not only will the on-boarded size of the audience be small, but the ability to then reach that audience through demand-side platforms (DSPs) or ad networks will be severely limited as well. Naturally, a DMP with a large footprint will ensure that more of an audience can be brought online. Once online, you have the best possible chance to reach them through any buying method. Yes, the footprint concept really is that simple -- and that elemental -- to successful digital campaigns.

Analytics are another area where size matters. As you put campaign data into your DMP, you are centralizing it into the digital footprint. If that footprint is not large, you are going to end up with incorrect analytics, which can drive you to reach inaccurate conclusions and make faulty adjustments to your media plan. 

Take for example overlap analyses, which are extremely popular with marketers today. These analyses, oftentimes shown as a heat map, illustrate the unique reach of a particular inventory source (or publisher or portal). By creating the central hub for campaign data, DMPs make these types of analytics possible. But if the DMP has a small digital footprint, the client won’t be able to recognize the extent of overlaps between inventory sources.

As a corollary, footprint size matters, but so does how it was created. And few things count more than being able to join the marketer's data to the DMP and ultimately to platforms for media delivery.  As a result, how that footprint was acquired and generated is also important. 

Is the audience associated with the DMP from an active pool of consumers who are reachable and findable with media? Are they likely to be customers or future customers? Or, was that footprint actually derived from an audience of less likely future shoppers? Are these consumers who aren’t seen very often in media delivery platforms?

If the DMP footprint falls into that latter category, the marketer’s data -- once on-boarded into the DMP -- can become entombed, and it can sit and not be actionable. In sum, it's true that size -- when it comes to the DMP -- isn’t the only thing that matters, but it is the determining factor. Without the overlap provided by a large, media-based footprint, the amount of intelligence a DMP can bring to a campaign can best be measured in inches instead of yards.

1 comment about "Marketers Must Measure their Data Footprint".
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  1. John Haake from Gotham Advisory, LLC, September 26, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.

    Great topic!

    Forrester Research just released the definitive DMP buyers guide last month. Download your free copy and see who is making the biggest footprints in the space.

    http://www.xplusone.com/forrester

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