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Who’s who: Data Management Platforms (DMPs)

I’ve been researching the current state of the Data Management Platform (DMP) market. Rather than keeping that knowledge to myself, I thought I’d share it here. And if I’ve made an error or omission, you can point it out!

What is a DMP?

Good question. My attempt at distilling it is this:

A Data Management Platform collects data from many sources, to identify characteristics and behaviours of anonymous user IDs. Groups of user IDs can be segmented, and pushed into other systems to customise experiences on web sites and apps.

So we can think of a DMP like a container ship, where each container is a user ID. The DMP gathers data on each user ID, appending its records continuously. For example, an on-site tag can tell us which users visited my site within the last 7 days. Third parties might indicate users are interested in buying a car.

Marketers can then group the IDs according to their specific requirements.  User IDs that are both recent site visitors and potential car buyers may warrant different ad creative, or a personalised landing page. How a DMP balances human and artificial intelligence in creating and activating user segments is often a key selling point.

DMPs though are empty container ships. They rely on integrations with other technologies to both collect data, and to activate it elsewhere. As important (perhaps more important) than a DMPs ability to organise data, is its ability to send and receive data from and to other systems.

Many DMP technologies therefore are part of bigger technology stacks, like marketing clouds (e.g. Adobe and Oracle), data companies (e.g. Neustar and Nielsen) or advertising networks (e.g. Rocket Fuel and Turn).

Being part of a bigger proposition can be limiting when integrating with would be competitors. DMPs such as Lotame and Relay42 emphasise their independence to marketers who want flexibility across integrations.

The players

I’ve tried to be comprehensive in this list. There’s been a serious amount of M&A work in the space in the last few years which can be hard to keep up with.

I’m in no position personally to rate any of the technologies. Forrester published a report on DMPs at the end of 2015. Gartner includes data management capabilities in its Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, last updated this month.

So here goes. See below the table for an explanation of ratings and links to sources.

AcxiomAcxiom's Liveramp is widely used to onboard data into DMPs, but it looks like it's being broadened to include DMP functionality itself.
AdformAdform is an independent ad platform, originally from Denmark.
AdobeLeaderLeaderA very early play in the DMP space, Adobe bought Demdex in 2011 and it's now part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud.
CollectiveCollective's Visto platform cites 'centralized data management' as one of its features.
Commanders ActIndependent DMP based in Paris.
CxenseContenderNiche PlayerBased in Oslo, Norway.
DataXuChallengerFounded in 2009, a long time participant in ad tech.
Eulerian TechnologiesChallengerBased in Paris, France.
exaudiIndependent DMP based in Italy.
Google Audience Center 360Strong PerformerA very new entrant to the market, Google release Audience Center last year as part of its '360' rebrand of analytics and data products.
IgnitionOneVisionaryIgnitionOne aqcuired DMP Knotice in 2014 to enhance its advertising platform.
LotameStrong PerformerOne of the oldest, and still independent, DMPs.
LyticsLytics’ Customer Data Platform looks like it has some DMP capabilities.
MediaMathChallengerLong time player in the programmatic ads space.
mParticleFocused on mobile apps and cross-device.
NeustarLeaderVisionaryNeustar bought Aggregate Knowledge in 2013.
NielsenChallengerVeteran measurement company Nielsen acquired Exelate in 2015, which is now marketed as the Nielsen Marketing Cloud.
OracleStrong PerformerLeaderOracle acquired DMP BlueKai in 2014 and the platform is now part of the Oracle Marketing Cloud.
PermutivePermutive is a London-based startup which describes itself as the 'first real-time DMP'.
Relay42Independent DMP based in Amsterdam.
Rocket FuelRocket Fuel bought [x+1] in 2014. Originally an ad network, Rocket Fuel is pivoting towards a SaaS platform.
RUNPart of Publicis Media group.
SalesforceLeaderLeaderSalesforce bought Krux last year to roll in to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.
SAPChallengerSAP built a DMP as part of its SAP Exchange Media offering.
TurnChallengerIn the process of being acquired by Amobee (Singtel).
Viant TechnologyChallengerAcquired by Time Inc in 2016.
YsanceChallengerBased in Paris, France.
Zeta GlobalVisionary
ZiplineStrong PerformerDMP from KBM Group, which is part of Wunderman Group, a WPP agency.


Since the first publication of this article, I’ve added Adform, Commanders Act, exaudi, Permutive and RUN to the list. Thanks to those people who made those suggestions.

The Forrester Wave for Data Management Platforms (published January 2015) gives DMPs 2 scores out of 5, based on their current offering and strategy. They then plot them on a circle with the centre being the maximum score of 5 for each category. Vendors are then leaders, strong performers, contenders or challengers.

You can get a copy of the Forrester report from IgnitionOne, in exchange for some of your personal data.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs (published February 2017) splits vendors into 4 categories:

  1. Leaders have fully embraced the integration of martech, ad tech and analytics, and deployed many hub solutions at scale, although they still mostly rely on integrated portfolio solutions from acquisitions and partnerships.
  2. Challengers have not fully delivered on the vision to extend their offerings beyond ad tech into more general marketing hub offerings that match the Leaders, although they have made progress.
  3. Visionaries are mostly smaller providers that have grasped the hub opportunity but are challenged by the difficulties of competing against the Leaders at scale.
  4. Niche Players come from diverse backgrounds, but share common qualities of agility and innovation.

You can get a copy of the Gartner report from Salesforce, in exchange for some of your personal data.

Further reading

Martin Kihn, Research Vice President at Gartner, has written some in-depth commentary on DMPs:

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