The campaign management tools used by email marketers are good as far as they go.
But they “never evolved to handle the volumes of digital data that companies deal with today,” according to Deconstructing Customer Data Platforms—Myth vs. Reality, a study released on Monday by Winterberry Group, sponsored by Acxiom and mParticle.
And the much-hyped Customer Data Platform, or CDP, will be of little help until people figure out what it is.
Winterberry interviewed 40 practitioners, and “every single interview we conducted began with a comment about market confusion,” the study notes.
First, a definition: A CDP system is designed to ingest and integrate customer data from multiple sources, offer customer profile management, support real-time customer segmentation and make customer data accessible to other systems, the study says.
This seems clear enough. But a large number of vendors peddling themselves as CDPs have competed in other areas — i.e., tag management, analytics or as DMPs. This has led to a “spectrum of competitors that have as many differences as similarities,” the study continues.
At the same time, some vendors in these adjacent categories label themselves as CDPs so they will be included in RFPs. But that’s not primarily what they are.
And some try to “negate the need for a CDP by claiming to offer CDP functionality.” But these data management layers don’t always make data available to third-party solutions.
Why do people need something like a CDP? For one thing, identity resolution.
“Traditional architectures rely on rigid identity schemes, which may suit a single application (such as email or web cookie IDs), but don’t capture the full range of identifiers and marketing applications.”
CDPs are useful in data management and segmentation. But they don’t seem to be suited for decisioning, analytics, measurement — or engagement “in the form of delivering the content to the recipient via channels such as website, email, and mobile.”
Winterberry concludes that CDPs are merging with other types of vendors or expanding their offerings. It also predicts that marketing clouds will acquire at least one CDP each.
The bottom line is that “there are too many providers today for the demand,” it concludes. “Those that fail to expand or merge will be left at the altar and forced to pivot to a new offering, while others simply won’t make it.”
In addition to the interview, Winterberry surveyed North American advertisers, marketers, technology developers and marketing service providers with the Association of National Advertisers.