What Is a DMP? How Does It Differ From a CDP and CRM?

What Is a DMP? How Does It Differ From a CDP and CRM?

In the era of data-driven marketing, businesses worldwide are seeking efficient ways to harness and leverage the immense volumes of data generated every day. At the heart of this data revolution lies the concept of Data Management Platforms, or DMPs.

DMPs are centralized data repositories that collect, store, analyze, and activate vast amounts of data from multiple sources. These platforms are designed to sort through numerous raw data types, transforming them into valuable, actionable insights. DMPs offer businesses a comprehensive view of their customers, providing detailed audience segmentation for precise advertising strategies.

How It’s Used in Advertising

In the world of digital advertising, DMPs have become a vital tool. The unique ability of DMPs to analyze and categorize data enables advertisers to create detailed audience segments, facilitating precise and personalized targeting.

Take This Scenario as an Example

A customer visits an online apparel store, browses a specific product category — let’s say, formal shirts — and leaves without making a purchase. A DMP captures this browsing behavior, segments the user under “interested in formal shirts,” and feeds this information back to the advertisers. Consequently, marketers can re-target the customer with personalized ads featuring formal shirts on different online platforms they visit, increasing the chances of them returning to make a purchase.

What to Look For

If you’re considering integrating a DMP into your digital advertising strategy, there are several critical factors to consider.

First, a good DMP should offer seamless integration with various data sources, enabling it to collect and process data from a wide range of inputs, such as web browsing cookies, mobile applications, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, and third-party data providers.

Second, look for DMPs with robust data processing capabilities, especially those that use advanced AI algorithms. Such platforms quickly and efficiently sift through large volumes of data, filtering out the noise and highlighting the most valuable insights so marketers can double down or pivot in time.

Privacy compliance is another crucial aspect. With ever-stringent data protection regulations like GDPR and CCPA, it’s vital to choose a DMP that ensures the privacy of user data and complies with relevant laws.

Finally, the ability to create detailed audience segments and facilitate effective targeting is the essence of a DMP. Ensure that your chosen platform meets the needs of your teams, campaign types, and current data.

The Leading DMPs

Several leading DMPs are widely used by businesses around the world. Adobe Audience Manager is a notable example, renowned for its comprehensive data management capabilities. It allows businesses to consolidate audience data from various sources, create detailed audience segments, and activate these segments across different marketing channels.

Another example is Oracle BlueKai, a cloud-based DMP known for its extensive third-party data marketplace. BlueKai offers advanced data collection, analysis, and segmentation capabilities, enabling businesses to develop precise, data-driven advertising strategies.

Salesforce has its own platform, with Audience Studio offering comprehensive audience profiles, along with Einstein-powered machine learning insights that inform which contacts best fit a brand’s segments. However, Audience Studio is in the middle of a phase-out — see how DESelect Segment offers the same benefits without requiring a lengthy data migration.

How DMP Differs from a CRM

CRM Overview

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are platforms designed to manage a company’s interactions with its current and potential customers. Unlike DMPs, which primarily deal with anonymized data, CRM systems manage known customer data, (both behavioral and demographic) such as contact information, purchase history, and interaction records.

Popular CRM platforms like Salesforce and HubSpot are pivotal to businesses worldwide. They provide a centralized system that handles sales, marketing, and customer service, enabling businesses to manage their customer relationships efficiently.

The Relationship Between CRMs and DMPs

While a DMP and a CRM serve different purposes, they aren’t mutually exclusive and often complement each other effectively. By integrating a CRM system with a DMP, businesses obtain a comprehensive view of their customers, blending known data from the CRM with the anonymized behavioral data from the DMP. This combination offers businesses an enriched customer profile, enhancing their ability to deliver personalized experiences to places customers most often visit.

Different Applications of CRM vs DMP

The primary difference between a CRM and a DMP lies in their applications. CRMs are primarily used to manage the breadth of direct customer relationships, supporting sales, service, and marketing processes. They enable businesses to track customer interactions, manage leads, and facilitate customer service.

On the other hand, DMPs focus on providing data for targeted advertising. They collect and analyze anonymous user behavior and demographic data, facilitating the creation of detailed audience profiles. These profiles help marketers and advertisers deliver personalized ads, thus enhancing the effectiveness of their campaigns.

What is a CDP?


Another critical component of the modern marketing technology stack is the Customer Data Platform (CDP). Similar to a DMP, a CDP collects and manages customer data. However, unlike DMPs, CDPs create a persistent, unified database of known customers. They combine data from all sources and track customers across all touchpoints, providing a comprehensive, 360-degree view of the customer.


CDPs like Salesforce Data Cloud and Exponea have gained popularity for their ability to aggregate customer data from various sources into a single platform. These platforms enable marketers to create targeted marketing campaigns based on comprehensive, unified customer data.

Fun Fact: DESelect works with Salesforce Data Cloud! Find out how to leverage the full impact of your Cross-Cloud data for segmentation both large and small!

How They Work Together

The combination of a DMP and a CDP significantly enhances a company’s advertising and marketing capabilities. While a DMP enables targeted advertising based on anonymous user behavior, a CDP offers insights into known customers, providing a basis for personalized, cross-channel marketing.

The Bottom Line: What’s Best For Your Business?

Deciding whether to invest in a DMP, a CDP, or both is not a straightforward decision. It requires a thorough understanding of your business needs and objectives.

DMPs, CRMs, and CDPs each serve distinct but complementary roles. If your primary objective is to improve targeted advertising, a DMP should suffice. On the other hand, if your team is focused on making more comprehensive changes to customer experiences across all channels, a CDP would be the better choice. CDPs provide a unified view of each customer, enabling businesses to deliver personalized experiences at every touchpoint.

However, for a holistic approach to data management and to maximize your marketing and advertising effectiveness, having both a DMP and a CDP could be the best route. When a DMP, CDP, and CRM work in unison, they create a comprehensive data infrastructure that fuels personalized customer experiences, targeted advertising, and effective customer relationship management.

Gathering and storing data are one side of the marketing ops coin, but having the right audience segments is just as essential as the actual campaign deployment. Learn how marketing teams create quick, granular, and effective segments with DESelect Segment.

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