Many three-letter acronyms (TLAs) relate to tools that corral data. There is some confusion surrounding these and questions regarding which one will help to drive your business forward. 

Over the past few years, the separate teams managing direct marketing, customer relationship management, analytics and digital advertising have increasingly overlapped and require co-ordination to maintain consistent consumer engagement. Some of the drivers for this are well known – always-on connectivity, multi-screen, mobile first imperatives, rise of digital, personalisation – all encapsulated by the ever-growing MarTech and AdTech SAAS technology landscapes. 

So, what are the main differences between the key TLAs, which do you need, and why?

The Single Customer View (SCV)

Provides businesses with the ability to track customer interactions and transactions across every channel – phone, email, social, retail, online, mobile, etc. The SCV has its roots in a desire for better customer service across channels. 

More recently, it has fed into tools designed for direct marketing or enhancing customer experience online. Most SCVs use ETL (Extract Transform Load) technology to pull data from multiple sources and organise it in a relational database structure, centered on a ‘customer’ table with various dimensions hanging off this. Unlike SAAS (Software as a Service), SCVs are bespoke solutions that are hosted on-site or via an agency, and are batch updated in 24 hour to one-week cycles. 

The Data Management Platform (DMP)

Grew out of the boom in online advertising and the need to target people who are largely anonymous when browsing. DMPs are most often used to manage cookie IDs and generate audience segments, which are subsequently used to target specific users with online ads. The DMP is usually SAAS and often operated by ad agencies to optimise ad inventory or spend. DMPs are increasingly evolving to ingest more traditional (first-party) deterministic SCV data to augment the (third-party) probabilistic cookie matched data. 

The Customer Data Platform (CDP)

Emerged in recent years as a complimentary approach to SCVs, with the focus on building audience segments from first-party data that can be directly observed on business websites, mobile apps and connected devices. The CDP can load interaction and transactional data directly (SCV lite), or via an existing SCV as a feed. Like with DMPs, audiences are made available to online advertising technologies, but are also actionable via out-of-the-box integrations into other solutions such as analytics, big data, email, mobile push, etc. The CDP can be thought of as an all-rounder, akin to middleware that powers omni-channel advertising and marketing.

Today, larger enterprises struggle to move from the slow moving world of the SCV to activate their first-party data to support direct marketing, programmatic advertising and optimisation initiatives. They can turn to the CDP to plug the gaps in their omni-channel marketing strategy. For smaller businesses or disruptive players, an immediate jump to the CDP approach can be the smart move, providing a strong and flexible platform.

In summary, think carefully before committing to a strategy that limits the possibilities. A hybrid approach may end up paying dividends.