Overall the DMP sector is in its nascent stages, said Forrester
Principal Analyst Joanna O'Connell, who wrote the report. One major
challenge: mobile. Because DMPs typically rely on third-party
cookies to build and target audience segments, non-browser based
channels including mobile pose problems.
And, tying third-party behavioral data to first-party data
including personal information not only creates privacy concerns,
the service isn't really available by most DMPs evaluated for the
report. In order to get a panoramic view of their customers, said
Ms. O'Connell, marketers need to do be able to connect things like
CRM and transactional data to digital data.
"The space still is incredibly immature," she said, noting that
she pared down her list of software firms to cover from more than
forty candidates. Those that didn't make the cut don't use their
own technologies or don't serve a marketer-centric clientele, among
In this still-early era, most DMPs are ingesting lots of data
– mainly third-party data – instead of pushing it out
into other channels, said Ms. O'Connell.
The report is based on responses to 70 questions intended to
illuminate criteria such as data integrations, access, security,
reporting, client service and pricing. The companies were
attributed scores for each category, so there's not one numeric
ranking. Here's a quick overview:
Adobe AudienceManager: "Leads the pack" as a
result of "significant time, technical, and financial investments,"
however, Ms. O'Connell suggested the company has yet to fully
integrate all its acquired tech platforms. "They have a ways to go.
They have a very large product set…but from what I can tell
they are buying up the right kinds of technologies," she said. As
noted in the report, "With the additional acquisitions of buying
platform Efficient Frontier, campaign management
system Neolane, and tag management system Satellite, Adobe is well
down the road in building out a marketing technology stack that
broadly addresses data intelligence and audience delivery. With its
approach, however, comes some risk: As one client noted, 'Adobe
wants to be an end-to-end marketing firm, but it feels as if you
run the risk of making the solution too generic, where it ends up
being nothing to anyone.'"
X+1: Well-rounded with "a range of
interconnected products for analytics and execution."
Blue Kai: "Established leadership position in
the third-party audience data space"
Aggregate Knowledge: "Strong analytics chops
and market-neutral position"
CoreAudience: A "competitive offering" but
with "less marketer experience."
Knotice: "Excellent user profile management
solution" but a strong focus on first-party data and little
third-party data integration.
nPario: New and "highly flexible" but in need
of product development to truly compete.
While the firms in the report have room for improvement, noted
Ms. O'Connell, "These systems are truly legitimately fast" when it
comes to ingesting and parsing massive quantities of anonymized
digital data. "These systems are made to pull in and process and
make sense of that kind of data and that just didn't exist before
As with most types of technology platforms, marketers will need
to determine their needs before choosing the best fit, she said.
"Take a look at what you've already got, figure out where there are
holes and then fill them."