Adobe, Krux And Neustar Crest Forrester’s DMP Wave

data waveSome corners of the ad and marketing tech industries wonder if the data management platform (DMP) is on the verge of becoming a commodity.

But a Forrester Wave report on the technologies noted points of differentiation among DMPs’ abilities to handle social information, ingest data from channels usually associated with marketing tech, such as email or content management systems, and execute media forecasting and discovery.

“The ideal DMP should be able to do everything the customer wants them to do it in the way they want to do it,” said Forrester senior analyst Susan Bidel, who co-wrote “The Forrester Wave: Data Management Platforms, Q4 2015” with senior analyst Richard Joyce.

Here’s how it rounded out: Adobe, Krux and Neustar were the top dogs, followed by Oracle – whose offering was actually as good as the leaders though it got dinged by customer references still chafing from the BlueKai acquisition. Consequently, Oracle was listed as a “strong performer.”

Also in the “strong performer” category: Wunderman’s KBM Group, Lotame and Google. Google is there with a caveat, since it doesn’t have an in-market DMP. More on that later. Finally, the Norwegian upstart Cxense was listed as a “contender.”

To be included in the Wave, each vendor needed a standalone DMP offering, both publisher and advertiser clients, at least 100 live clients and 40 net new ones over the past 12 months. It’s worth noting that the previous DMP Wave only required 10 live clients – and the increased threshold underscores significant DMP adoption over the last year.

In the end though, the results yielded few surprises, in terms of who was on top and why. However, Bidel and Joyce did find notable differences.

One of those areas was social connections. “Social is an area that has caught the fancy of many marketers for their advertising and distribution efforts,” Bidel said. “It generates a tremendous amount of data. We wanted to make sure those DMPs attuned to that market movement, and were prepared to act on that information.”

So while Adobe, for instance, owns applications to accommodate paid social, it doesn’t have a strong partner network to bolster its social listening capabilities or its social reach. Lotame also had issues ingesting social data, Forrester found.

Another point of differentiation was the ability to ingest data from marketing channels, including email, website or content management systems. Here, the report penalized Neustar and Lotame. Bidel noted these integrations – particularly email – were big differentiators and were weighted accordingly by Forrester.

“There was a clear distinction between DMPs focused on trying to solve problems outside digital media, versus those that were focused on media,” Joyce said. “The more advanced DMPs in mind that it’s not just about buying the media, and tied in web analytics, managing consumer experiences or site optimizations. That’s something marketers haven’t fully explored yet but will in the next year or two years as they get more experienced at it.”

Additionally, not every DMP could perform inventory forecasting and discovery. Forrester, for instance, lauded Neustar for its inventory discovery and forecasting tools while noting Krux and KBM Group lacked that capability. Krux insisted in the report that a DMP cannot handle this capability “in a way that is accurate and actionable.”

Krux CMO and CSO Jon Suarez-Davis told AdExchanger that this is because DMPs do not have access to the right data sources.

“To forecast capacity and calculate inventory avails for a publisher, a DMP would have to have active, ongoing access to all detailed ad serving logs and all order booking details at the most granular level,” he said. “And it’s widely understood that even forecasting solutions native within the ad server, where those detailed records reside, often fall short of the mark in terms of accuracy.”

He added that for programmatic, DMPs tend not to have visibility into ad exchanges or demand-side platforms.

Joyce agreed that, by and large, inventory forecasting and discovery was the purview of the demand-side platform, which connects with the actual inventory, and that across the board DMPs weren’t designed to provide performance estimates.

However, he said sophisticated DMPs could provide estimates on reach against a specific audience.

“The more advanced DMPs are good at telling you how many people you can reach if you plug into Turn or DBM or some other bidder,” Joyce explained. “But they wouldn’t be able to say, ‘You can deliver X amount of impressions against the audience you’ve created.’ There is a point where the DSP takes over, and that’s around frequency, audience size and the amount of impressions you can deliver.”

The Results

Adobe, which acquired the DMP Demdex in 2011, had a head start on the industry, so it’s not particularly shocking that Forrester believes it should be considered for clients who want loads of functionality, often in the form of plugins from the rest of Adobe Marketing Cloud or through a rich third-party network.

Krux works well for clients who don’t want a DMP as part of an integrated stack option since it’s extremely customizable based on client needs.

Neustar provides an excellent single view of the customer, thanks to its identity resolution and device ID capabilities. It also has powerful analytics, which might become even more powerful since it acquired MarketShare, that let clients examine the customer journey and forecast and discover inventory.

Oracle had strong data management and analytics tools, and could effectively ingest and syndicate data.

KBM Group’s affiliation with WPP’s Wunderman means it operates well at a global scale.

Lotame was extremely flexible and had great customer references. It also had “comprehensive” offerings in device and user identification, as well as segmentation and syndication.

Cxense is reasonably priced, though it doesn’t integrate with many third-party vendors.

The Google Factor

Finally, there’s Google. Since its DMP is only in beta, it is clearly an exception to Forrester’s criteria, hence its limited participation. Unlike the other vendors, Google did not go through the whole Forrester Wave gamut. It did not provide, for instance, a 3.5-hour briefing or do client surveys.

“Clearly Google wouldn’t have been able to be part of [the Wave],” Bidel said. “But all indications are that it’ll be in market with live customers in the near future. We didn’t want to publish this without a nod in its direction because Google is Google. They already by default work with almost all marketers and publishers out there and whatever they bring to market will be of interest and people will pay attention.”

Based on what Forrester was exposed to, the Google DMP will enable clients to upload their first-party data to find their customers across Google search and video sites. Forrester also anticipates that one will eventually be able to target audiences on Gmail. However, the Wave indicated that Google’s DMP offering will flourish largely within Google’s walled garden, and it will not integrate with third-party tools or marketing technologies.

“They say they’ll be an open platform and integrated in an open and embracing way,” Bidel said. “I take them at their word.”

However, the Wave singles out Google’s lack of external connections as a detriment: “These integrations are essential parts of the leaders’ basic tool sets; this solution’s lack of these integrations calls into question Google’s commitment to a truly open platform.”



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