Indie CDPs Need To Do A Way Better Job Explaining Their Value

When it comes to use, familiarity, market share and mindshare in the customer data platform (CDP) ecosystem, the big marketing clouds lead their smaller indie counterparts by a mile.

But a peek under the hood reveals a more nuanced story.

The marketing clouds are sucking all the air out of the room, but it’s the pure play CDPs that actually have the capabilities and features marketers say they’re looking for, according to market research firm Advertiser Perceptions in its first report on the CDP market, released Tuesday.

Advertiser Perceptions polled 231 marketers, data scientists and IT professionals at large companies who have either used a CDP, were involved in the selection process or plan to start using one within the year.

Fighting for their share

Despite only being in market with their CDP solutions for roughly a year or less, Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle and even SAP are winning on awareness. More than half of marketers (60%) said that they’re “very familiar” with Salesforce’s CDP. Awareness was also high for Adobe’s CDP offering (59% are very familiar), for Oracle, at 56%, and SAP at 49%.

The same can’t be said for the indies. Only 16% of those interviewed said that they’re very familiar with Tealium, 15% with Segment, 12% with Redpoint Global and 9% with Lytics and mParticle. (See chart for a full breakdown).

A similar dynamic plays out in terms of use. Salesforce leads again at 47%, with Oracle, Adobe and SAP trailing at 42%, 39% and 28%, respectively. Use of the indies is low across the board: Redpoint (9%), Lytics (7%), Segment (5%) and mParticle (4%).

“This would point to the big tech companies having such an enormous head start,” said Kevin Mannion, chief strategy officer at Advertiser Perceptions. “You almost have to wonder whether marketers really are using them as CDPs or whether they’re using a different part of the marketing cloud and just think they’re using the CDP portion, too.”

But despite low awareness and use, the indie CDPs have a huge opportunity to win market share – if they “grab a megaphone” and do a better job of getting their message out there, Mannion said.

Key drivers

The pure play CDPs evaluated by Advertiser Perceptions score highly on the benchmarks that marketers and their counterparts in IT say they’re looking for in a CDP.

Take scalability and data security, which are the two tech-related criteria most highly correlated with consideration in the CDP category. Although Salesforce still does fairly well on these metrics, the other marketing clouds dip precipitously – while the indie CDPs knock it out of the park.

When asked to rate a series of CDPs based on scalability, marketers scored ARM Treasure Data and mParticle the highest, BlueConic third, followed by Salesforce, Segment, SAP, a bunch of other indies, Oracle and Lytics, with Adobe bringing up the rear. ARM Treasure Data also got top marks for data security, followed by SessionM, ActionIQ, mParticle, BlueConic, Redpoint, a cluster of other indies and marketing clouds … and then Adobe last, again.

“They might not have the market traction yet,” Mannion said, “but this is telling us that when it comes to who actually has the best platforms, it’s not necessarily the big cloud players, but rather the ones who have been doing it for a while.”

The other takeaway is that Adobe needs to watch its back. Thirty-six percent of marketers see Salesforce as the leading CDP on the market, which drops to 23% for Oracle, 13% for SAP and just 11% for Adobe.

“Adobe will tell you that they were the first CDP among the clouds,” Mannion said. “But we’re getting a lot of signals that Salesforce is the main CDP out there; and it’s concerning if you’re Adobe, because you’re really trailing.”

Still, it’s “super early” in the CDP game, he said. “Let’s keep in mind we’re in the top of the first inning.”


It wasn’t so long ago that Salesforce executives were calling CDPs “a passing fad,” and now the technology is a core part of the company’s strategy.

One of the reasons the marketing clouds have been able to overshadow the category so quickly, is because they already have deep relationships with marketers. Salesforce has CRM, Oracle has database management and Adobe has its creative suite.

“These companies already had CDP-like capabilities and now they’re good at blurring the lines,” Mannion said.

Which could be an explanation behind a real head scratcher that came out of the report. When asked what the main promise of a CDP is, the majority of marketers responded with “digital advertising.” But … isn’t that what a data management platform is for?

“It’s a real puzzler,” Mannion said.

The finding could speak to the notion that marketers are starting to think of CDPs, at least in part, as an evolution of the DMP. But perhaps it’s also evidence that DMPs haven’t fulfilled their promise.

“There were a lot of capabilities people believed they were going to get from a DMP, and now two things are happening,” Mannion said. “Some marketers are trying not to use a DMP anymore, and we’re also seeing a growing desire among marketers to combine their CDP with their DMP to help them finally do better digital advertising.”

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