Earlier this month, Forrester published a report on audience data management platforms (DMPs) for digital publishers. It’s a testament to the rapid pace of change in this space that our outlined vendor landscape is already somewhat outdated. Last week, Adobe announced the acquisition of Demdex, a pure-play data management platform that’s been gaining traction with both publishers and advertisers. This is the first of what I believe will be multiple strategic acquisitions of DMPs in 2011. Forrester will have much more research on data management platforms and the evolution of media buying later this year, but first a few thoughts on what this acquisition means for the interactive marketing ecosystem:

  • Data management platforms are more than just a shiny new object. Data-driven media buying is real and — barring regulatory Armageddon — there’s no turning back for digital advertisers and publishers. The addition of data management platform capabilities to the Adobe online marketing suite does much to legitimize the space and bring DMP technology to a wider client pool.
  • Technology consolidation gives publishers a chance to come up to speed. It’s no secret that the sell-side (with some exceptions) has been tentative to move into the world of data-driven media buying. While it is easy to blame a culture of conservatism, I don’t think you can understate the role marketing technology fragmentation plays in keeping publishers on the sidelines. Advertisers have established agency relationships to help them identify and manage new technologies and push them in new directions. For publishers, however, this is largely a lonesome endeavor. Technology consolidation under vendors like Adobe/Omniture — with its well-established publisher relationships — gives publishers easier access to the education and tools needed to maximize revenue in today’s media buying ecosystem.
  • Google isn’t the only one building out an end-to-end marketing suite. Google is still the 800-pound gorilla in the interactive marketing ecosystem, but that doesn’t mean 2011 won’t bring new competition for supremacy in the marketing technology arena. Google’s offering — which now includes ad server and exchange DoubleClick, DSP Invite Media, and optimization engine Teracent — clearly gives it a leg up in delivering advertisers and publishers end-to-end technology solutions. Still, I continue to hear doubts from publishers and marketers about how Google will handle conflicts of interest between its software and ad-based business. Look for technology-focused players like IBM and Adobe to join Microsoft in adding to their suite of marketing products for advertisers and publishers.