Data Management Platforms in India – Keys to Success

Sherlock Holmes once said, “The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession.” I am now wondering how true that statement is about my profession as a digital marketer. Abundance of data is the growing problem this industry is facing today. We all have data but no one knows how to use it. Now we have tools to manage such a huge amount of data, the tools that are better known as data management platforms (DMPs). And given the implication and usage of DMPs, it doesn’t sound like any other fancy jargon that we all love throwing at people.

I strongly believe that DMPs are a natural progression of the digital industry, but when it comes to India as a digital market, exceptions are bound to emerge. I was talking to a leading consumer durable marketer and asked him if he had heard of DMPs and how they can be useful. He answered, “Our agency should be [doing] it.” And that’s not the only problem in India. Actually there are several other important factors that will be the key to DMPs succeeding in India, quickly. Let’s discuss these one by one.

1. Moving from campaign-based to “always-on” approach.

Thankfully, Indian marketers have started to experiment with digital media, not as I would want them to, but at least there is interest. But the problem for the regular advertisers is their campaign-based approach. Data gathered from one campaign doesn’t get used in the second or subsequent campaigns. Every time there is a new campaign, there are new sets of data and two data points do not talk to each other, ever, at all. This mindset has to change.

2. Trusting your own agencies/partners.

Most of the marketers are uncomfortable with sharing data with their own agencies. Owned media assets produce a huge amount of data which marketers have no idea what to do with it, and they will not even share it with their partners. Choosing trustworthy partners thus becomes very critical because once you start working with a vendor, it will be increasingly difficult for you to change it because of the control the vendor will have over your data.

3. Moving away from blanket segmentation.

Marketers will need to understand that each and every digital vehicle will produce newer segments of audiences and a traditional “blanket” segmentation approach won’t work in digital. A key benefit of using DMPs is to create those niche segments and catering to them specifically with customized messaging, offerings, etc. Using common ways of segmentation for projecting a multi-channel approach won’t work.

4. Content strategy.

Once you have channel-specific data, you need to have a clear content strategy in place. As discussed in the point above, DMPs will result in niche segments of an audience that will need specific attention in terms of content requirements. Enough has already been said about having a content strategy in place for your brand to succeed in digital marketing, but with DMPs in the market, its importance will increase multifold.

5. End-to-end user experience.

Using DMPs will require a seamless user experience. Typically marketers fail to provide a consistent experience to the user. Think of a scenario where the user is getting some message through display, mobile, social, or search channels and when he lands on the destination page or a website, it’s simply not there, the user experience is hampered and the entire effort is wasted. And most likely, the user is lost.

6. Integration and aggregation of first-party and third-party data.

Marketers are using more and more platforms to buy inventory via ad networks, exchanges, and DSPs, etc. Now combine that with the website’s data of users like new visitors, repeat visitors, transaction page exits, registration page exits, newsletter data, so on and so forth. All this would require huge integration efforts from everybody involved.

7. Have patience.

Last but not the least, DMPs will need time to evolve for each and every brand. This is not an auto-pilot platform. Audiences do not segment themselves, you need to look at data and form segments and that it will not happen overnight. Prepare yourself for a long drive before you deploy any such platform and make sure that the team members have the requisite patience to draw meaningful insights out of it.

Although DMPs are at a nascent stage in India, it won’t take much time for marketers to adopt it because to my mind they cater to the unsatisfied need of data management. DMPs are a perfect way to integrate all digital vehicles and platforms which have been, so far, performing independently.

RP Singh, executive planning director, digital, McCann Erickson – Commonwealth will speak at a panel session, “Cannibalization or Symbiosis – Cross analysis of SEM and SEO” on Wednesday, Dec 5, 2012 at SES New Delhi.

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