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DMP Q&A with Experian & Lotame

Lotame and Experian recently co-hosted a data breakfast with nearly 50 marketers at the Charlotte Hotel in London. As a follow-up to the event, we conducted a Q&A session with Miles Pritchard, Head of Marketer & Agency Solutions at Lotame and Alastair Bulger, Strategic Development Director for Experian Marketing Services on the state of DMPs today. 

The State of DMPs in the UK Today

Is marketing expanding to take control of the entire customer journey?

Alastair Bulger (AB): Yes. Survey after survey reveals that CMOs are expecting to be responsible – or already are responsible – for the end-to-end consumer experience, which includes the customer journey. This is a natural offshoot of the marketing organisation: after all, for many consumers, the first contact they have with a brand is typically via a marketing message; and certainly the consumer journey pre-purchase has always belonged to the marketing organisation.

Where do you think marketers in the UK are today in terms of the maturity and mechanics of how they are implementing DMPs?

MP: I believe the DMP market in the UK is moving from a nascent state to a state of competitive advantage, that is, we are moving from a market characterized by a reliance on third party vendors (data exchanges, publishers and agencies) to a market in which brands are implementing DMP technology for themselves and executing the technology within their own organisations.

A market is defined by competitive advantage when advertisers use their first-party data to a much greater level in order to deliver differentiation. The mechanics of implementation differ from one brand/vertical to the next, but largely focus on the use cases identified below:

  • Creating and managing target audience segments
  • Ingesting and unifying first-party data
  • Reducing media wastage through centralised audience decisioning
  • Increasing ROI through cross-channel media
  • Deriving customer insights through the DMP

What is the most advanced marketer deployment of DMP technology you have seen to date?

MP: The marketers that are most advanced are often utilising all first-party data at their disposal across all channels (Digital, CRM, POS etc.). It is clear that the most advanced marketers are focussed on executing effectively against their overarching strategy and deployment plan, and we focus a lot of resource on working with our customers in order to ensure they are successful in executing against whichever use cases they seek to explore.

Benefits of a DMP

How does the DMP help tackle the challenge of silos in a big organization?

MP: A core competency of the Data Management Platform is to unify data sets and information from multiple different sources across an organisation; whether that is analytics data, CRM, email, search, social or display.

This unification can help to break-down internal silos and data silos in order to provide a global view of your data universe and generate consensus within the business amongst multiple stakeholders through the use of a single source of reference. This in turn, can help the organisation to make better, more informed, more well rounded decisions, faster.

What about individuals across devices? Does a DMP automatically match them?

AB: A DMP does have some built in cross-device capabilities, provided it has been set up properly. It is very easy to identify devices where a user has logged in, for example, by matching device identifiers through the common key of a CRM ID. And because a DMP is able to gather so much “long-tail” data on each device, it is possible to use advanced data scientific techniques to generate probabilistic matches between devices. However these matches are imperfect; and this type of solution struggles somewhat with more complex use-cases, particularly those involving “householding” where you may have a device that “belongs” to several individuals. This is where a separate linkage solution can add real value, by augmenting your CRM database and putting all the device identifiers there. After all, your CRM file already connects a person to an address, or a phone number; and a device identifier is in many ways just the digital equivalent of that.

How can marketers work with publishers and other partners to extract more data from their targeting?

MP: We recommend that marketers work closely with publisher partners in order to leverage their combined data assets. Publishers often house a vast amount of audience insight, which they have gathered through engagement with their content, and often times these audiences can be powerful targets for brands. There are three main ways to work with publishers within the context of data partnerships:

  1. Leveraging a publisher’s audience segments across that publishers owned and operated properties through a media buy (direct or programmatic)
  2. Using a publisher’s audience segments across the open exchange through the use of Lotame Syndicate
  3. Utilising a marketer’s own audience segments or combining a marketer’s and a publisher’s audience segments through for instance look-a-like modelling, and subsequently across a publisher’s owned and operated properties.

Where do you think media agencies should fit in with DMPs?

AB: The recent controversies over agency transparency have surfaced some areas of concern for brands when working with agencies: transparency can no longer be a buzzword, it has to be a core principle of any brand-agency partnership. Media agencies continue to have a valuable role in helping to craft and execute against a brand’s advertising strategy (as well as their traditional creative role); and they will as ever be a source of expertise and insight. The truth is that many brands do not currently have the internal capabilities to do without agencies; however they do increasingly have the ability to take a more authoritative position over how agencies are measured, and verifying and reconciling disparate metrics against their first-party “source of truth” data sets.

Could you give an example of using a DMP with display advertising?

AB: Display advertising is generally speaking the first application of the DMP, as it is a very straightforward use-case with readily measurable ROI. There are two common use-cases we see.

The first is optimising your campaigns by audience: the DMP knows which users have seen a campaign, and which audiences they belong to. By definition, some audiences will respond to a given campaign better than the average response rate, and some will respond to the same campaign worse than average. It is then a straightforward matter of refining your audience pool by excluding those under-performing audiences, and including more (or even just redirecting spend towards) users from your over-responding audiences.

A refinement to this is to optimise to channel, as well as audience. Your “most responsive” audience is likely to be reachable across multiple channels and technologies. Again the DMP can help you identify the channels that drive the most responses for certain subsets of that audience, and therefore show you where to direct your spend most effectively to drive the best response.

Implementing a DMP

How do you work with your customers to implement data management solutions?

AB: Every DMP installation is very client-specific. This is reflected throughout the engagement: every proposal, plan and path to ROI will be tailored to your particular requirements. The Experian managed service provision includes a tailored proposal (including a phased or iterative approach to your use-cases and system integrations), an implementation plan, regularly scheduled updates and business reviews, as well as a precise explanation of the tactics and strategies we will employ to drive ROI in each case: we like to characterise it as a partnership between Experian and our clients.

MP: Lotame maintains a 60-day implementation project plan, which we share with our customers and continually reference through the implementation procedure. We work with our clients to identify clear strategic and business objectives as well as technical requirements and integrations. Our dedicated account management teams are always on hand to guide the process from start to finish.

How mature does a business need be to implement a DMP?

MP: Maturity is difficult to define clearly, and one definition for maturity in one vertical or sector is often not easily transferred to another vertical or sector. As opposed to focussing on maturity, we tend to focus on the internal resource and skill-set available to a business looking to implement DMP technology. We rely heavily on internal stakeholders and their ability to successfully deploy and execute on a data driven strategy, this may include resource around project management, data analysts, data scientists, architecture design etc.

We often work with marketers that have “matured” to a stage where they are looking to centralise their audience management and data flow, and take more control over their use of audience data (1st, 2nd and 3rd). In other words, marketers looking to act more independently of their agencies and/or publishing partners.

What are the biggest challenges advertisers face when implementing a DMP?

AB: There are a few challenges to be aware of when implementing a DMP, many of which are products of its complexity and the breadth of its potential applications. However the leading challenge we see frequently is simply getting the value out of this very complex piece of technology. Some of the use-cases that can drive very significant ROI are complicated to manage and require the right resources to execute successfully; and often brands try to do too much at once with the DMP. These are problems that can be addressed with a managed service and a considered, phased approach.

MP: I believe the biggest challenges currently facing advertisers when implementing a DMP are:

  1. Replacing Legacy Technology: Often times the DMP is deployed in order to “stitch” data sets and audience insights across multiple technology systems, however legacy technology systems may not have the capabilities required to effectively facilitate new integrations
  2. Internal Team Silos: We often hear that their are internal silos within an organisation which make implementation of a DMP more difficult, due to the volume of stakeholders required and the diversity in use cases and priorities across the business. Or, there’s no ownership within the client at all!
  3. Lack of Skill Set: The DMP space is still relatively nascent, and underdeveloped in many markets, which has resulted in a lack of the relevant skill sets and expertise required to maximise the value of the solution, or extract the value from the organisations data assets. This is a clear challenge in implementation, and one we hope to address through our partnership with Experian, who bring a heritage of data management and vast market experience to bear in customer engagements.


About the Authors

Miles Pritchard

Miles Pritchard is Head of Marketer & Agency Solutions, based in Lotame’s London office. Pritchard’s primary focus is to solidify Lotame’s market position and product solution roadmap, working in conjunction with the marketer and agency clients he knows so well. Working globally, Pritchard assists and advise Lotame’s sales, client service, product and marketing teams to help build even more successful client relationships with marketers and agencies. Learn more

Alastair Bulger

Alastair is Strategic Development Director for Experian Marketing Services. A veteran of several successful start-ups, he has worked closely with some of Europe’s largest consumer-centric organisations to help them build better products and experiences through the application of data. Alastair read Mathematics at Oxford University, where he developed an interest in Information Theory. Learn more