I recently attended a speaking event featuring Oracle’s Richard Harris. He made a great analogy about the pitfalls of marketing and advertising without a Data Management Platform (DMP) that has cross device tracking and targeting capabilities.

I will paraphrase Richard’s analogy as best I can.

Imagine you are walking down the street and someone behind you calls your name. As you turn around, a stranger approaches to shake your hand. Who is this person? How do they know my name? Have I met them before? You anxiously try to remember any context of how you may know them as they proceed to ask about your son’s rugby team, “Isn’t that championship game coming up for them?”.

This is really embarrassing, they do know you, but you can’t remember them. You make small talk until making your awkward escape. Once you get back home, you suddenly remember that this person was actually a leading influencer for one of your most profitable clients. Ouch.

As a best case result, you have just missed a great opportunity to strengthen an important relationship. As a worst case result, you have given a very negative experience to one of your highest value customers.

A Data Management Platform (DMP) with cross device capability helps ensure that you can identify current customers and new prospects while strengthening existing relationships and customer loyalty. Serve the right message at the right time, no matter what channel or device they are on.

What is a Data Management Platform (DMP)?

A Data Management Platform is a centralised location for marketers to store, analyse and optimise all of their marketing campaigns using 1st, 2nd and 3rd party audience data across all channels including website, display, video, paid search, social, and email marketing. This data encompases all publishers and devices. Below is a brief explanation of these different types of data.

1st Party Data – A company’s own data.This can include information such as customer identity, Digital Body Language, profiles, emails, phone numbers and purchase history.

2nd Party Data – This is essentially using someone else’s 1st party data, directly from that source. This can be obtained by sharing or exchanging for a mutually beneficial relationship. A good example would an airline and hotel chain exchanging data on users who are looking to book a vacation to Tahiti. Both companies have a very similar audience, and their products do not compete against each other, if anything there is an increased likelihood that a customer would need both services. Marketers can also purchase 2nd party data.

3rd party data – This is data that is collected from publishers and aggregated websites. 3rd party data can be purchased in many ways.

The Challenges of Cross Device Tracking

With the exception of sign-in based walled gardens such as Facebook and member website logins, marketers often struggle to connect user journeys across devices, while also missing opportunities to drive users down the funnel.

As customer journeys become more fragmented across multiple channels and devices, so does the ability to understand the contributions of each channel and device. DMP’s eliminate fragmentation and marketing silos, giving a holistic view of all of marketing activities and user behaviors.

It is no secret that people now spend more hours on mobile devices than they do on desktops. Without a cross device DMP, mobile marketing and engagement is often either undervalued or overvalued. Marketers undervalue mobile advertising because many still apply a last click/conversion KPI model, whereas retail desktop conversions are over 3x that of smartphones according to Monetate’s e-commerce Q1 2016 Quarterly Report.

Prospects may do their research on mobile device but continue their journey on desktop to make a purchase. On the flip-side, Marketers may overvalue mobile marketing when they apply pure engagement KPIs such as impressions, clicks and time on site without any accountability of how that engagement is driving ROI.


Simply put, if you are marketing and advertising without a DMP that has cross device tracking capabilities, you are not getting a complete picture of who your prospects and customers are, how they are engaging with your offering, and where they are in the purchase funnel. In offline terms, you’re not putting a name to a face, which means you’re missing opportunities to better engage with known customer identities as well as new prospects.

Cross device probabilistic matching can be a very complicated process. If you are curious exactly how it works, you can read more about probabilistic matching here.