Data management platforms have been a focal point of discussion this year. Most advertisers I speak to are either deploying or considering the deployment of a DMP to complete their technology stack. Often, their objectives go well beyond media buying. And while most invite US platforms like Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle to RFPs – all recognized as industry leaders in the Forrester DMP Wave – the choice of a platform in Europe is complicated by considerations beyond tools and features.

Marketers have to consider integrations with local media partners, data ecosystems, DSPs and marketing providers. They have to contend with the economics of running a DMP in smaller consumer markets, upcoming EU privacy legislation and the need for a local presence and cultural understanding. These factors that can erode the competitive advantage of certain US platforms and give more niche, local DMPs a prominent seat at the table.

DMPs’ relative strengths revolve around media, data and marketing integrations

DMPs typically differentiate along three dimensions depending on whether they focused the development of their platform on:

  1. Media buying. The first DMPs were born out of the need for better audience management in digital media buying. They have implemented and perfected integrations with other actors in the ad tech ecosystem over time: demand-side-platforms, ad exchanges, third party providers, supply-side platforms, media companies. In Europe, working with the local ecosystem is critical. As marketers’ needs have evolved, these platforms have sought more marketing integrations and partnerships. A number of them now offer well rounded offerings though capabilities like audience analytics, segment creation, user recognition still skew towards ad buying use cases.
  2. Marketing automation. A number of DMPs, in particular those built in recent years, aim to personalize and orchestrates marketing interactions across touchpoints. They collect and stitch together data issued from marketing touchpoints to make consumer-centric marketing a reality. Their focus has been on tight integrations with their clients’ marketing stack, while bridging the gap with audience management.
  3. Data enrichment. A handful of platforms are data platforms at their core. They have built DMPs as an extension of their data or analytics business, leveraging their expertise in data management. Their strength resides in their analytics capabilities, including identity resolution, as well as their access to data: many offer proprietary data onboarding and large proprietary datasets that help enrich DMP user data with strong match rates and reduced latency. These platforms are more common in North America than they are in Europe. This category raises a number of questions related to the local data partner ecosystem, and the impact of GDPR on the platform’s first and third party data.

In my recent Now Tech: Data Management Platforms In Europe, Q4 2017 report, I explore how these capabilities translate in the European market, and how US, European and local platforms are evolving to provide differentiated offerings to marketers.