DMP Buyer’s Guide: 12 things to look for when selecting a Data Management Platform

Data Management Platforms (DMP)
Data Management Platforms (DMP)

Data Management Platforms (DMP), are certainly a hot topic as companies look to take more control over data generated by their various consumer touchpoints and their offline channels.

DMPs also allow these companies to connect their data to third party sources to help fill gaps, provide deeper insights on their customer base and find new correlations in new markets or new opportunities to improve the customer journey.

In this DMP Buyer’s Guide, I will be outlining the top 12 things to look for when going through a DMP selection process. These are not meant to be easy questions for the vendor. They are designed to give you the best information to make the best decision on which vendor you should choose.


The DMP is a complex system that does a lot of things. It is therefore important to start to understand how the technology works and some of the underlying processes and methods the system uses.

  • How many server to server implementations does the DMP have?
    • What is the process for on-boarding a new vendor that is not listed?
  • How does the DMP approach mobile data, tracking and cross device?
  • How does the DMP approach data matching with other providers?
    • Do they have a built-in marketplace? If so, which vendors are available?
    • Do they use mapping tables, server to server or real-time to match data?
    • What are the current average match rates?
    • Is real-time really real-time?

Data Ingestion

The main use of a DMP is to collect, store and organise data. Therefore it is of paramount importance for you to understand the types, method and complexity of 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data the platform can ingest.

1st Party Data

First party data being data that your company has generated on their owned platforms.

  • Analytics
  • CRM
  • Offline data – in-store for example

2nd Party Data

Second party data is another company’s 1st party data.

  • Can the platform facilitate 2nd party data sharing?
  • Do they have 2nd party data exchanges within their platform?
    • If so, what could be applicable for this company?

3rd Party Data

Third party data is another company’s data and is generally anonymous or aggregated online only data – such as Experian, MasterCard and Acxiom who can supply information such as demographics, propensity to purchase etc.

  • How many and which vendors are available within the platform?
  • Which suppliers are most relevant for the company?

Audience Segmentation

The whole point of a DMP is to collect data about users and to create audience groups based on a series of criteria and rules. So it is really important to understand how easy is it to set these up and how they work.

  • What tools does the platform have?
  • Do they offer any professional services in this area?
  • Any algorithmic segment capabilities?
  • What predefined taxonomies exist?
  • Any dynamic / algorithmic taxonomies?
  • Does the platform employ any machine learning or AI?
    • If so, what does it do?
    • Does it only improve my capabilities or does it improve for other clients?

User Experience

Your DMP is not going to be used by only technical people. It is likely to be used by marketing, sales and other teams, so it needs to be easy to use and intuitive.

  • Ease of use of the UI
  • Creating segments, taxonomies, lookalikes, insights
  • User management – super users through to read only
  • Are there video tutorials available on demand? How is the help section formatted and is it easily searchable?

Media Delivery

If you are going to activate your data in the DMP across various media channels, it is important that you know which channels and see which vendors the DMP already has integrations with and for how long.

Matching user IDs between partners is generally automated. If you need the DMP to integrate with a new vendor, this can be challenging, expensive and it can take time for the DMP to create a matching database.

Go in with your eyes open.

  • Which media channels / vendors does the DMP have integrated already?
  • Which ones are the most important to the client?
  • Will the client need to change suppliers?
  • What is the process to on-board new suppliers if needed?
    • Costs involved? Timings?
  • Any limitations?


Getting the right data into the platform is massively important, but just as important is the insight you get from that data. So make sure that you find out about the analytical tools the platform provides to measure audiences and media performance.

  • What are the reporting capabilities in the platform? What is available?
    • Data overlap / lookalike / quality measures (reach, cost, relevancy)
  • Can the DMP ingest performance data – programmatic, biddable, search?
    • If so, how easy is it to integrate?
  • Custom reporting capabilities and any associated costs
  • Standard Dashboards


Rolling out a DMP can often be a long and drawn out process. It is important that as a client, you have enough time and resources to make sure that the right data is going into the platform.

It is also important that the vendor ensures that they are deploying enough resources to make the partnership a success. Whatever they put in the contract, make sure you question the assumptions and understand any processes in place.

  • Set-up resource support from vendor
    • Fully resourced team included in the cost?
    • Additional service at a cost?
  • Ongoing resource support
  • Training approach
  • How do they service the account?
  • Level of support?


Approach and compliance to industry and legal privacy rules.

  • What provisions are in place around European Privacy laws and future changes?
  • SOX compliance?
  • What processes are in place to avoid any PII issues with CRM for instance?
  • Can PII make it into the system? What defences are in place?


Often, the commercials focus on how many profiles the platform will be storing or how much traffic is hitting their servers from the web site tags or SDKs.

It is also important to understand costs around matching your data to other data sources and for any bespoke work that needs to be completed.

  • Need to think about 2nd / 3rd party data matching
  • Integrating new partners
  • Custom work with 1st party data requirements

Client base

As a potential new vendor relationship, it is important to understand if the vendor has worked in your industry before and with similar businesses. Will this be a voyage of discovery for the vendor? How likely will they be to make mistakes?

  • Any similar clients?
  • Typical use cases that the DMP has already fulfilled?
  • Non-typical – things that clients have learned that they weren’t expecting or found surprising

Existing relationship

Sometimes these technology suppliers are owned by a larger company – Krux is owned by Salesforce for example. Sometimes, if you already have a large engagement with a specific vendor, your rates could be reduced as a result.

  • Has the vendor already got technology or products within your business?


It is important to understand how the product will be improved over time and in which areas the vendor is focusing. Is it in line with your own plans? What are the main challenges they are responding to?

  • What is planned for future releases?
  • Access to Alphas and Betas?
  • Mobile plans?
  • What influence could client have on the product roadmap?
  • How often does the company release? How are clients notified?