Future State - The Oracle Consulting Blog

When DMP journeys go wrong

Louise Tegner
Communications & Marketing Manager

Author Stephen Hanvey, DMP Expert Services Consultant at Oracle Consulting


Apart from writing one of the world's favourite children's stories, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis was a prolific writer of Christian theology. It's from one of these texts (Mere Christianity) that I saw this quote and thought about many Data Management Platform, DMP journeys:

"We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive"

I have read with great interest recent trade contributions on the climate within the industry for DMPs, with specific regard to whether the rewards of a DMP justify the cost, and the excellently argued is the DMP dead? You see it's not just the weather that's uncharacteristically hot right now, but also the industry buzz for the CDP (Customer Data Platform) - we've heard the DMP is dead long live the CDP! But before we all get sweaty at the idea of a new shiny CPD, splash your face with cold water, log back into your DMP and read on...

A perceived failure of a DMP could well be down to a misalignment on expectations (be that DMP sales team's flair and the client's over-expectation due to inaccurate industry noises and hype) but it is almost always the repercussions of an inadequate approach to DMP management, whether anyone is willing to admit it or not.

On a slight tangent, I recently had quite a few pieces of decent left over wood and decided to build a bird feeder for my garden, after all I've got all the tools I needed. So I set about sawing, hammering and toiling only to quickly realise that I had no clue how I was going to ensure the structure was solid, safe and stable. I immediately stopped, drew a scaled blueprint and researched lap joints and bevels on YouTube - the results were successful for any self-respecting home DIYer.

Back on subject, it is imperative that a DMP is seen simply as a tool, not as a solution, and as with any tool, the success of it relies on having a plan and experienced guidance. For a DMP that plan may include the team, the processes, the data, the connecting technology, the marketing budget, vendors, agencies etc.

A DMP Strategy should be the blueprint on which the foundations of future DMP success are built. The consequence of not having such a plan is almost certain failure, at best muddling through but certainly not flourishing. Here are some examples of poor planning from my experience that you don’t want to emulate:

  • A single disconnected team manages the DMP procurement and implementation with limited to no visibility of every potential stakeholder's requirements. What is initially a good deal turns out to be much more expensive than anticipated when low volume thresholds are quickly exceeded and execution across vital platforms is prevented to due low tier licence choices.

  • The DMP deployment completes quickly and seemingly well, but when the process of audience and campaign building starts the business realises that neither the agency or internal teams have the dedicated resource for the amount of manual management tasks - leading to resource renegotiation with vendors or desperately waiting for recruitment budget sign off and having a dormant DMP in the interim. The cost and resourcing of automation (potentially through APIs) also hasn’t been considered and now media campaign delivery is at serious risk, unless the DMP is sidelined.

  • The DMP is deployed without due consideration to the depth, breadth and quality of data available. The result is that programmatic display and maybe SEO is the only beneficiary; web personalisation, CX and direct marketing teams doesn’t get the insight needed and heads turn away from the DMP which is seen as a very limited and flawed (due to cookie erosion and GDPR) 3rd party only activation platform.

The failure here is not in technology but approach - and I urge the reader to ponder on which is easier: recognising you're on the wrong road, turn back and create that DMP strategy blueprint. Or write off your DMP investment and put your faith and investment heavily (in terms of finance, time and resource) in another as yet unproven new tool - which quite rightly will also fail without a plan, a strategy or a blueprint for success.

The final word here goes back to C.S Lewis as a word of both caution and optimism:

"Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.."


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