Raju Malhotra is svp of products at Conversant.

The recent publication of Forrester’s Wave report on data management platforms (DMPs) is the latest indication that many marketers are now closely evaluating them. The concept behind a DMP, at least on the surface, seems promising. It offers everything a data-driven marketer could dream of: a single, actionable view of each consumer.

The only problem is, DMPs don’t fully deliver on that promise.

Too often, today’s DMP solutions are glorified data warehouses, filled with website logs, app logs and other consumer info. The data usually isn’t thorough, and while connections may be found between devices as well as some online and offline data, nothing consistently and persistently ties back to an individual.

The result for consumers is a poor experience. They see repeated ads, ads intended for other members of their household, and ads featuring products they’ve already purchased from the brand (or products just like them that they bought from a competitor). The result for marketers is wasted impressions, wasted money and a poor ROI.

The question marketers need ask isn’t, “which DMP should I use?” but instead, “which solution best improves my actionable audience size with high accuracy and persistence?”

Here are five things to keep in mind to get the most out of your data.

One view of each consumer, across all channels.
This requires a new approach to managing consumer data, balancing the precision of old-school customer relationship management (CRM) programs with the scale that digital channels provide today. That means creating a singular, anonymized consumer ID — one that doesn’t perish, even as cookies decay, addresses change and devices are replaced. Data may go away (and that’s unavoidable), but the consumer ID should persist for ongoing conversations across all marketing channels.

Data pulled from all available sources.
Less than 10 percent of a brand’s consumer interactions are in a state where the consumer’s identity is known. More than 90 percent are anonymous. In order to engage with existing as well as new customers, marketers need to tie together various personally identifiable information (PII) and non-PII identities of their customers and prospects, within a privacy framework. This includes CRM (e.g., email, direct mail), anonymous data (e.g., cookies, device IDs) and transactions (online and offline).

Active, actionable and fresh data.
Being consumer-centric requires connecting often with consumers as individuals, not just as cookies or devices. Marketers shouldn’t have to rely on data that sits in a stale warehouse.

Relationships that grow.
Done right, and with enough data, relationships with consumers (via their anonymous consumer IDs) can eventually be built and strengthened with every ongoing consumer interaction.

Data as part of an integrated solution.
When marketers consider the entire chain of custody of their data as an integrated solution, rather than using a fragmented solution for onboarding, managing (DMP) and activating (DSP) it separately, there are fewer layers of data loss and little drop-off in actionable audience size.

Separating the hype from the reality of a standard DMP may cause some discomfort. But if it means creating a better solution to connect more accurately with your customers and prospects, then it will all be worth it.

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