Top 15 data management platforms
Data management platforms (DMPs) help organizations collect and manage data from a wide array of sources — and are becoming increasingly important for customer-centric sales and marketing campaigns.

A data management platform (DMP) is a group of tools designed to help organizations collect and manage data from a wide array of sources and to create reports that help explain what is happening in those data streams. Deploying a DMP can be a great way for companies to navigate a business world dominated by data.

The name “data management platform” can be confusing because it comes across as a generalized product that works with all forms of data for all types of data scientists. Lately, however, the term has been adopted by marketing teams, and many of the data management platforms vendors currently offer are tuned to their needs. In these instances, data feeds come largely from various advertising channels, and the reports they generate are designed to help marketers spend wisely.

This market shift is emerging because modern, data-driven marketing teams must navigate a web of connected data sources and formats, including ad marketplaces that dump statistics about audience engagement and click-through rates, sales software systems that report on customer purchases, and websites — and even storeroom floors — that track engagement. All this data arrives by the terabyte, and a data management platform can help marketers make sense of it all.

Marketing-focused or not, DMPs excel at negotiating with a wide array of databases, data lakes, or data warehouses, ingesting their streams of data and then cleaning, sorting, and unifying the information therein. Some are general tools that can be used for any job where data may be gathered, including scientific labs, manufacturing plants, or government offices, as well as sales divisions. Others are more focused on serving marketing teams, offering many common integrations to ad platforms out of the box.

Some DMPs specialize in producing reports with elaborate infographics. Others aim simply to manage the collection and integration of data, leaving the analysis and presentation work to other tools that specialize in data science and statistics.

Some major advertising platforms offer DMPs that house elaborate tools for squeezing the best performance out of their channels.

Lately a cousin of DMP has evolved, called the customer data platform (CDP). These tools are designed to track individual customers, often using third-party data sources for identifying individuals viewing ads or visiting websites. These may use personally identifiable information and create profiles to track potential customers through the sales funnel.

Some vendors and industry observers make the distinction between CDPs and DMPs by suggesting that CDPs focus on following individuals whereas DMPs provide more general and anonymous answers about market segments or large blocks of potential customers. Others believe that this distinction is disappearing and that platforms should be able to answer both types of questions.

Here are some of the best data management platforms available today, arranged in alphabetical order. Many are focused on delivering the best returns for marketing teams but some are more general tools that can handle any data science task.

Adobe Audience Manager

Any company relying on Adobe and its various advertising platforms, such as the Experience Cloud, can also use its Audience management software to gain up-to-the-minute insights into how various ads or promotions are performing. The deep integration begins with first-party sources, including storefronts, CMS-based web channels, or email campaigns, and moves on to second- and third-party sources from Adobe and others.

BidTheatre

Advertisers and their agencies can use what BidTheatre calls a “demand side platform,” a fun name for a system that enables organizations to build and then distribute banner, video, and native ads through their own CDN. The reports BidTheatre generates compares the channels to provide data-driven insight into performance. It’s an integrated solution that both nurtures the creation of the ads and watches their performance.

Google Audience Center

Anyone targeting Google, YouTube, or its ad networks can use Google Audience Center to track performance of the various ads in all of the channels. The reporting capabilities enable users to drill down into individual numbers for greater insight using the Analytics 360 platform. They’ve also integrated the tool with Studio, their portal for creating new advertising campaigns.

Lotame

The goal for the Lotame data management platform is to track marketing performance in the face of increasing concerns for privacy and cookie usage. Lotame’s platform absorbs first-party data and merges it with other background information from second and third parties. Its Panorama identity management system tags and tracks location and activity around the world. Lotame also runs a marketplace that matches buyers and sellers of digital audiences so companies can build relationships that lead to sales.

Microsoft Customer Insights and Marketing

Dynamics 365 is a large collection of business intelligence products from Microsoft, and two parts, Customer Insights and Marketing, can deliver much of the marketing intelligence found in a CDP and a DMP. It will connect with a wide selection of first-, second-, and third-party data sources, inlcuding the major advertising platforms, to track potential customers and can merge this information to deliver a continuous, end-to-end experience that’s often customized for individual buyers. Microsoft also leverages much of its deep experience with AI to improve targeting and classification in these tools.

OnAudience

Advertisers use OnAudience to build an understanding of their audience from data collected from multiple sources. The GDPR- and CCPA-compliant tool creates custom segments based on shared demographics, interests, and demonstrated intents or purchase plans. This precise process creates opportunities for marketing directly to those with similar needs. OnAudience also maintains a readymade set of audience segments, such as “design lovers” or “summer sports fans,” to help get you started.

Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience

Oracle’s entry has been growing over the years as the company merges together technology from BlueKai, Moat, AddThis, and other Oracle products. What began as a relatively simple data management tool has grown to be a portal for tracking the performance of digital advertising across channels. So Oracle renamed it Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience. It integrates data across a wide arrange of sources to help optimize the value of ad dollar spending.

Pega

Pega builds a low-code platform for designing and executing digital marketing campaigns. Its cloud-hosted tool manages customer communications to deliver the right messages at times when they can be absorbed. The platform enables your team to customize a sales workflow and analyze which steps are delivering the best return. Background tasks such as order management can be delegated to robotic process automation tools to simplify life for customers and the fulfillment team.

Permutive

The DMP from Permutive is designed to be ready for the shift in ad tracking as rules abouprivacy grow stronger. Its platform supports both publishers and advertisers so both can understand which creative work delivers the best results. Publishers find a privacy-safe way to deliver first-party information to advertisers while advertisers get the information they need to track performance across all of the publishing platforms in the open web.

Roku OneView

The brand name may be more familiar as a streaming video device manufacturer, but Roku also places ads. The company brought Dataxu under the brand umbrella and dubbed it OneView. Now advertisers can use the data management platform to track how their campaigns are performing. The system uses access to the streaming services identity information to track users across multiple devices in one coordinated reporting mechanism.

SAS Data Management

The Data Management tool from SAS is designed to be heavily integrated with many data sources, be they data lakes, data pipes such as Hadoop, data fabrics, or mere databases. Its Integrated Process Designer is a visual tool to create data flows that integrate data to produce concise reports. Along the way, metadata is collected, organized, and maintained to help debug and ensure data integrity.

Simpli.fi

Agencies and ad buyers for large clients turn to Simpli.fi for a workflow management tool that unifies purchasing and tracking across media. The platform is integrated across digital venues such as search and social media and older markets such as print, cable TV, radio, and broadcast. The goal is to make it simpler for larger advertisers to launch and coordinate large campaigns across multiple media channels. The platform also juggles invoicing and payment to keep accounting software coordinated with ad buying.

Snowflake

This general platform wants to be a data warehouse and data lake for any general data stream. The company offers the service to a broad range of companies from the financial sector to manufacturing to retail. Of course, marketing also works. Snowflake also maintains a large data marketplace where third parties sell the data that can fill out your reports.

Survey CTO

One common way to test market sentiment is to gather information directly from customers. Survey CTO is a platform that organizes and automates many of the details for distributing questionnaires and collecting their responses. These may be online or offline through devices like tablets or smartphones. Once the data is collected, the system can produce reports and infographics or share the data with other tools such as Zapier, Stata, or SPSS.

TruAudience 

TransUnion, the credit scoring company, also runs TruAudience (formerly Signal) to help marketing teams unlock their “identity resolution capabilities.” The product merges this data with the information it gathers from third parties such as streaming audio or video providers. The goal is to create various “audiences” defined by particular characteristics or habits and then target them across multiple platforms.

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