DMP: The New Direct Marketing Database for Display

Guess what this is:

Sound familiar? It’s a description from the mid-90s on database marketing and the direct marketing database.

And it sure sounds a lot like a Data Management Platform (DMP) for the display advertiser.

Today’s DMP is the online equivalent of the direct marketing database and provides marketers with many of the same benefits and more. Instead of managing audiences for offline marketing channels like direct mail, telemarketing, and print advertising, it allows an advertiser to manage audiences anonymously for targeting across channels in the online world, from display ad to website, to search ad (RLSA’s). We now have access to much more targeting data, and processing of that data happens at amazing speeds.

Today, dis­play adver­tis­ers are using demand-side plat­forms (such as Adobe Media Opti­mizer for Dis­play) to reach their audi­ences across the web and opti­mize their cam­paigns to meet their performance objec­tives. Many are also adopt­ing DMPs (like Adobe Audi­ence Man­age­ment, a capa­bil­ity of Adobe Media Opti­mizer) to bet­ter iden­tify, seg­ment, man­age, and acti­vate their high-value audi­ences for their display advertising campaigns.

Direct Marketing Has Gone Through Significant Changes

The 90’s don’t seem that long ago, but since then direct marketing has gone through significant changes.

In the early 90’s the hot topic for direct marketers wanting to reach prospects to generate new business was database marketing. It allowed an advertiser to manage audiences for offline marketing channels like direct mail, telemarketing, and print advertising, and deliver those audiences to the appropriate vendors for campaign execution.

You could consolidate data in silos across an advertiser’s business down to individual user profiles like:

Third-party consumer demographic data (gender, age, location) or business attributes (industry, job function, income) could be appended to the profiles to enrich the targeting data.

The processes were much more manual and took much longer than they do today.

Consumer choice for direct mail was supported (and still is) through the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Do Not Mail list, now called DMA choice. Back in the day, the DMA Do Not Mail list was suppressed from a marketer’s mail files sometimes taking a week or more.

Direct mail elements are tested to determine which combination drives the highest response or conversion rate, and may include testing hundreds of marketing lists, and various offers and creative formats. In the 90’s getting access to campaign performance data could take a couple of months and relied on matching or synching various data files –the direct marketing database was synched with the:

Analyzing the results of a direct mail campaign and optimizing the campaigns could take months due to delivery, response, and data processing timeframes.

Oh, and in the 90’s direct mailers already had dynamic creative (albeit at a snail’s pace compared to the near real-time delivery and performance reporting that we have today). Variable copy (offers, messages and tracking codes) could be inserted into letters for specific audiences segments during the printing process using laser printers, even for large print runs of millions of direct mail pieces.

The DMP: The Direct Marketing Database for the Display Advertiser

Today a display advertiser can use a DMP to manage their online audiences, and those audiences can be reached across the web in real time through their Demand-Side Platform (DSP) with real time optimization and campaign performance reporting.

Now we have massive amounts of audience data available to an advertiser for use in targeting of display ads, everything from website activity data to offline customer data, all normalized to individual user profiles within the DMP for use in audience segmentation and targeting.

The benefits of the DMP are similar to those of the offline direct marketing database, but for the online world and the display advertiser, and include:

The new direct marketing database for the online world is the DMP. For more on Display advertising and audience management, please see my blog It’s Still All About Audience and ROI.