A version of this post also appeared in AdExchanger

We are currently in a state of “data-hyperinflation.” In other words, the rate of data being generated and used is exploding year over year. This phenomenon goes beyond segments and cookies, and new classes of vendors are popping up to fill the space.

Future iterations of data management systems will take savvy marketers one step closer to understanding every touch point that leads to a valuable new customer. Here are several important data worlds that are emerging—and evolving—fast to get us there:


Location itself is pretty straightforward: now that everything is mobile, we can gather GPS-level data from a device, represented by latitude and longitude coordinates (lat/long) to determine where a user is located. But lat/long data is a lot more raw than a typical “segment,” in that it requires additional steps to provide true insight. Using lat/long, you have to extrapolate 1) what that place is, and then 2) what that location means about the user.

Simply knowing a person’s lat/long doesn’t tell you much about them, other than maybe they are located in downtown San Francisco, for example. If you parse the data log, however, you might be able to see that this person is in a gym—and they stood in another fitness location just last week.

Suddenly, two data points derived from the geo framework tell you that this user is actually an active, fitness conscious person. Applying this insight is the next step.

People You Haven’t Met Yet

The traditional view of a DMP was to store information about your existing customers, readers, etc. in lieu of managing a database. But what about storing information about people you buy ads against? If you buy dozens of ads against a particular cookie—and they never click—maybe they just aren’t worth your time anymore. If someone has already been to your webpage, maybe they should get a new message—an invitation to come back.

Stay tuned for the “Pre-Customer Database”: a central place to store all of the information you are generating, before someone becomes an actual customer with a direct relationship. For CPG companies, this relationship may never turn into a digital one, so data vendors in this space could hold some of those brands’ most important online information—a treasure chest of potential hot leads.

Data Relating to Direct Media Management

How can you remove a non-clicker from campaigns unless you tie your media performance directly into the buying process? Another set of data folks will do just this. This group will drill down on the user level to start answering a lot of important questions about marketing spend and resulting revenue: How much are customers costing me by source? What’s each customer’s lifetime value per channel? What’s the downstream conversion rate for each creative that I run?

Other simple optimizations aren’t far behind. Imagine being able to automatically retarget people who clicked one of your ads in the first place?

When you have assembled all the data across media spend channels, the evergreen question is: what should we look at internally—and how do we make sense of it all? Some of the vendors in this space will offer basic reporting functionality to break down these insights, while others may aggregate data and leave charting and analysis to another integration.

Data Relating to Cross-Vendor Information

So, now that we’ve built out the core questions above, new concerns start to arrive. For instance, how many impressions are people seeing across my different media partners?

One such data vendor did a study for a customer who was seeking to run their media with an impression cap of 2x views per user. To their dismay, they discovered that when they looked across the six different media buying platforms, each user was seeing the same ad six times. Each vendor had stayed at the cap of two impressions, but there was no communication or coordination between them.

A next-gen DMP or DMP alternative will be the one to answer these kinds of questions.

Data Relating to Cross-Device Understanding

All of the above questions run into a further stumbling point: mobile. We’ve done all of this hard work to gather and dissect important data—but now each user has three different browsers (home, work, mobile) and possibly even more devices at large.

Facebook has the luxury of single sign-on data: many people log into the Facebook platform on each of their devices, giving the social giant a complete view into which browsers, devices, and cookies are connected to one person. But what about the rest of us?

A myriad of device-graph / cross-device DMPs have sprung up, either storing this information on behalf of publishers or building their own probabilistic mappings. Independent firms are already getting consolidated into larger marketing platforms, and this will only become more prevalent moving forward.