Cutting through ad-tech’s acronym soup when you’re looking for a DMP

11 Jul 2016 | By Tobias Arns



If new tech and acronyms are close, ad-tech and acronyms are thick as thieves. It seems every new wrinkle on the scene has to have its own three-letter moniker: DSP, SSP, RTB… WTF?

“The technology doesn’t change as quickly as the powerpoints,” says Petteri Vainikka, Vice President of Strategic Business Development at Cxense. The firm’s data management platform or DMP to use its acronym, enables publishers like the Swedish group Bonnier to use audience data and real-time analytics to improve user experience and monetize content by offering targeted content and ads. But Vainikka is worried that publishers looking to take advantage of powerful data technologies for the first time, don’t know where to start among the myriad of tools, capabilities, vendors, and jargon.

“The client side is often lost,” he says. “There are exceptions that prove the rule, but the first time DMP buyer is perplexed. I’ve been fortunate to work with some very advanced clients, but those are generally in the second phase.”

That’s the most important thing for vendors to understand according to Vainikka: Clients have specific business goals that they want to achieve and they need the best tools to do the job.

He says he is constantly being asked what the difference between DMPs is and he firmly believes that not all platform suppliers are created equal, explaining, “They have different starting points.”

Some DMP vendors started out tagging content and serving advertising, but Vainikka thinks that process has always been “too manual” to support real-time data. Others come from the angle of third-party data activation. “The problem is you can never build a competitive advantage on third-party data; it’s either really expensive or crap. You need to focus on first-party data.”

The Cxense platform is rooted in real-time web analytics, creating rich audience profiles from end-to-end behaviour tracking across all devices, an approach that Vainikka says delivers a real advantage in harvesting first-party data. “If you are going to be heavily invested in first-party data, it needs to be unique. Your ability to create that data is directly related to your ability to harvest the data,” he says.

The DMP market is in the very early stages and like all new markets, it is being driven by what the technology can do, not by a well-defined set of client requirements. “Vendors are ahead of clients now, but the clients are catching up.,” says Vainikka.

For Cxense, the DMP sales process is heavily consultative, it’s all about market education. “We tell the market what is possible today and what is possible going forward. We point out the low hanging fruit, what’s more complicated but still possible today, and then the Holy Grail, how much more can be done in the future,” Vainikka says.

Some of the low hanging fruit that the right DMP can deliver to publishers includes editorial recommendations, ‘you might also like this’ functionality, that can be moved on to more complex personalisation through direct behaviour tracking or collaborative filtering.

Publishers also look quickly for subscriber conversion optimisation. “All publishers have the aspiration to have their audience sign in or pay,” says Vainikka. “A good DMP can deliver personalised marketing messages, target segments, or integrate content recommendations.” It can also be used to reduce churn, using use modelling to predict users at risk of leaving and delivering messaging accordingly.

Vainikka says advertising targeting can be more complex, with audience intelligence used to improve campaign engagement and reporting, not just for ad units but also for native advertising content. “Most publishers, when they send an RFP, are not at this level of granularity. Our job is to show what can be done with this data.”

Looking at the market in general, Vainikka sees lots of overlapping functionality, and believes there is plenty of room for the market to evolve. “When you’re sourcing technology, you’re not just sourcing technology for today, you’re partnering up with a vendor who has a clear vision of your business goals and objectives.”

“It’s important to be clear what vendors can help right now, and in which areas you are going on a joint journey. Ask the providers of a DMP to come over and explain in basic terms, no jargon, what their platform does in concrete terms. In which business areas it is very strong, in which areas it is on par with other suppliers in the market and it’s future direction or where it has big plans to go for the future, and what this can mean to the publishers.”