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Six Questions to Help You Determine the Right Data-Management Platform for Attribution

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The market for data-management platforms (DMPs) is growing. Those platforms enable marketers to harness their vast and growing repositories of user data by collecting first-, second-, and third-party data from disparate sources and combining it into high-value audience segments.

But what does that all really mean?

Consider an individual who has engaged with your brand. First-party data stored in your CRM system indicates this person is a loyal, high-end customer. Second-party data shared by a partner shows the person to be a frequent online shopper with a high credit score. Finally, demographic information collected from a third-party data provider reveals this individual is a man, age 18-35, with a household income under $100K.

A DMP collects this fragmented data and ties the attributes together under a single user ID, creating an enriched user profile that facilitates personalization and targeting.

DMPs are important components of the data-driven marketing landscape and provide marketers with a powerful tool for identifying and targeting high-value audiences. But they don't assist in understanding media performance across paid, owned, and earned media, or provide recommendations for optimizing media spend.


Moreover, just because you know who a user is and the attributes associated with that user doesn't mean you know which media will drive a given business key performance indicator (KPI) across multiple channels.

Did the marketing touchpoint that he/she was exposed to help generate awareness, drive brand engagement, contribute to an eventual conversion, or trigger other desired action? If so, to what extent and at what point in the funnel?

DMP + Attribution = Actionable Marketing Intelligence

Only when a DMP is integrated with an advanced marketing attribution solution do marketers receive an unparalleled view of cross-channel media performance related to unique audience segments.

By providing visibility into which channels and tactics influence a specific audience, when and to what extent, and without compromising the privacy of consumers, marketers can optimize their media spend to drive conversions, brand engagement, revenue, and/or other specific business KPIs.

Yet it's easy to see why the marketplace could get tripped up and think DMPs provide attribution capabilities.

For instance, if an advertiser believes attribution is defined as a "user ID" problem and that user takes "a journey" across media types to a conversion. But is this really applicable to marketing measurement and optimization? How is credit assigned to those media types, so marketers can accurately compare the value of different marketing channels and tactics and optimize spend accordingly? What about accounting for the media performance of those users who did not convert, in addition to those who did?

In truth, most DMPs do not offer robust cross-channel attribution measurement as part of an integrated stack.

Six Important Questions

When evaluating DMPs that claim to offer marketing attribution capabilities, be sure to ask these crucial questions:

  1. Does the platform track media performance exclusive of audience?
  2. Does the platform track media performance across both converters and non-converters?
  3. Does the platform holistically assess cross channel marketing performance and deliver intelligent optimization recommendations at a granular level?
  4. Does the platform measure audience segment performance across multiple media channels beyond just online display?
  5. Does the platform measure and optimize non-addressable media like TV, radio, and print?
  6. Does this platform assure the privacy of consumers?

There is no doubt that DMPs play an important role in helping marketers segment and understand the characteristics of high-value target audiences. However, though DMPs can provide input to a data-driven attribution solution, they do not in themselves provide insights or recommendations to help marketers optimize their media mix.

For marketers who want to harness their valuable data sources to measure cross-channel marketing performance and optimize spend across all channels and audiences, attribution isn't just nice to have... It's a must-have.


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Anto Chittilappilly is the president, founder, and chief technology officer of Visual IQ Inc., a marketing business-intelligence company that provides the end-to-end insight needed to execute successful campaigns, deliver maximum ROI, and measure multicampaign attribution.

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