If you’re serious about data-driven, addressable marketing, investing in a Data Management Platform (DMP) is one of the smartest choices you can make. The DMP serves as the nervous system for your organization’s digital ecosystem helping you unify, make sense of and unlock the value of disparate streams of data, uncover and build valuable consumer audiences, and reach those high-value audiences with personalized messaging in real-time across the digital ad ecosystem.
There’s a lot at stake here. Get it right and you will unlock the ability to reduce media waste and accelerate precision marketing outcomes, if you’re a marketer. For a media owner this could mean a significant uptake in audience engagement and digital ad revenues. Yet, despite the best of intentions, the majority of DMP engagements in the industry are either deemed unsuccessful or uninspiring.
When organizations rally around the need for a DMP, what they usually find most daunting are the aspects around technology integration, considerations around privacy, and the analytical implications of having access to streamlined datasets for the first time. However, there is already considerable expertise available to help clients navigate these issues and those decisions tend to be more black and white, so these challenges quickly diminish in difficulty. Instead, as new DMP clients begin to wrap their heads around what the rollout entails, what they uncover is a massive exercise in change management.
To help you increase the odds of DMP success, here is a six-point checklist.
1. Drive early alignment on the “why invest?” question: Most organizations invest in a DMP either because their digital investments have increased both in absolute and relative terms, or because they don’t want to be left behind. Many DMP engagements fail because there is no concrete measure of success. If you are shepherding the rollout, make sure to get the key stakeholders aligned on what success means for the rollout in 12 and 36 months. Get specific. It’ll help to get the organization to focus their energies on aspects that are most valuable. Example: The goal of the DMP rollout is to save $10MM in media costs by improving the on-target percentages of our key campaigns from 40% today to 80% in the first 12 months of the rollout.
2. Think your data strategy through – Why are professional kitchens efficient? They are meticulously prepped and setup before the cooking takes place. The culinary world calls this concept mise en place but it highlights a state of mind where things are so beautifully planned ahead of time, that execution becomes a breeze. Data is the key ingredient for your DMP. Think about what first-party datasets will be most valuable to ingest into your platform, identify how you will onboard any datasets that are offline, expect to have several levels of legal review to ensure you are privacy compliant, and map out exactly where and how data will be physically sourced from and piped out to (ex: your CRM system). Additionally, start planning ahead for strategic, non-competitive but complementary second-party data partnerships you want to put in place. Remember, the more relevant datasets you bring to the DMP, the more value you will extract from it.
3. Understand the total cost of ownership – If one of your objectives is to show value early in the engagement, you must understand the full cost of ownership. DMP pricing can be tricky. There are software costs, data costs, servicing costs, and set up fees. Often clients can negotiate an all-you-can-eat data package if they expect their volumes to justify this arrangement. As an engagement owner, demand full clarity on full-year costs and caveats before your budgets are set so that you’re not hit with surprises mid-year that either force you to cut back on your must-dos in year one, or worse still, jeopardize the roll out completely.
4. Drive business-strategy linkage – One of the big rookie mistakes clients make in the first year of their DMP launch, is to keep the engagement insulated from the business, essentially giving their agency and a few data technicians full control over its destiny. While you want to start with a small group, you must get the business stakeholders drawn in early. Start with a few brands (as an advertiser) or a few of your digital properties (as a media owner). Ensure you’re solving real-world business challenges and letting the current struggles dictate the use cases that you take on.
5. Widen the stakeholder base – It takes a village to get the DMP successfully ingrained in your company’s precision-marketing roadmap. Often, DMPs fail because the relevant stakeholders are not brought to the table in a timely manner or because they don’t feel a sense of ownership in its success. This also calls for appropriate training and inspiration sessions where you ensure each of the stakeholder groups are educated about the benefits of the DMP to them. Your digital leads, media and creative agencies, IT, legal, marketing, sales, insights and analytics, tech ops, and procurement teams should all have a seat at the table. The proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” rings true here more than ever. Winning engagements have a collective stake in the success of the rollout from the outset.
6. Identify three quick wins in the first 100 days – Getting the commercial teams and P&L owners involved right away is important because it provides the rollout team with direction on what real business challenges can be taken on, to prove the value of the DMP investment in the early phases of the roll out. The DMP roll out can be energy sucking and you will need quick hits to keep everyone motivated to keep going. Think about not only what you will take on but also how you will measure success. Lastly, ensure you celebrate that early success with credit divided across your cross-functional stakeholder group.
No one ever said a DMP rollout was easy, but with teamwork, active change management, and careful planning, your organization can shift the odds in their favor. Once set up, your DMP can be a growth accelerator. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Ranjeet Laungani, SVP, Nielsen, is based in New York.