CDP vs. Data Management Platform: A Comparison

CDP 101|4 Minute Read

CDP vs. Data Management Platform: A Comparison

Without question, our best-read content is about the CDP vs. DMP: the differences, the similarities, and, ultimately, which platform is best for business technology users

More than a year since we published the original blog on the topic — and some time since we consolidated it all into an eBook — it’s time to advance the discussion further.

Yes, we still get asked all the time: “What exactly is the difference between a customer data platform and data management platform?”

Today, more often than not, business users have a firmer grasp on the distinct differences between a CDP and DMP and, rather, want to know: “Okay, but do I need both?”

And though it might be everyone’s least favorite answer, ours remains: “It depends.”

In an effort to provide a more satisfactory response, though, we’ve put together some general guidelines for what your life looks like with a CDP, with a DMP, and with both.

data management platform

The CDP vs. DMP comparison breakdown

The easiest way to make the CDP-vs.-DMP comparison is to break down how both platforms handle different essential marketing and business tasks (i.e., their core attributes).

Anonymous data management

  • CDP: The platform provides anonymous data storage: data that is collected from someone who may eventually become identified or known but isn’t right now or yet.
  • DMP: Anonymized data is stored here: data that has an associated identifier associated, but that personally identifiable information has been hashed or de-identified.

Customer data sources

  • CDP: The martech is built around first-party orientation: collecting data from all of the brand’s touch points and data sources to tie them to actual behaviors exhibited by a unique user, whether anonymous or known.
  • DMP: This solution is build around third-party orientation: data based on millions of soon-to-be-useless third-party cookies from across the web and matched with non-PII attributes like demographics and site behaviors.

Data expiration and storage

  • CDP: The profile created for each user is stored persistently in a database (Apache Cassandra, in our case), so the data doesn’t expire and your profiles have no limit to the amount of data you can store in them, giving you a progressively richer view as the person continues to engage.
  • DMP: Using the cookie for data collection means that a data management platform “profile” typically only lasts for 90 days before it expires (sometimes shorter, sometimes longer, as some DMP vendors offer additional storage for an additional expense).

Customer identity matching

  • CDP: The platform is deterministic. In the case of BlueConic, our CDP only matches and merges profiles based on a unique identifier (email address, subscriber number, etc.).
  • DMP: The platform is probabilistic. Because DMPs were built to expand ad reach, segments and matching are typically based on algorithmically derived guesses about links between people for look-alike modeling and high-level personalization.

Customer segment creation

  • CDP: Data is unified and updated in real time. As a marketer creates a segment in BlueConic, that segment is immediately active, so the profiles that match the segment’s criteria associate and disassociate in real time (24 milliseconds, to be exact) as their attributes change. There also does not need to be a minimum number of people in a segment for it to be a viable definition.
  • DMP: There’s a 24-hour processing window. Once a segment is created in Salesforce DMP, for instance, it takes 24 hours before it becomes usable for ad targeting. Each segment needs to have at least 20 people in it because the algorithms require at least that number to still have a target cohort once you assume 40-60% matching.

customer data platform

Get a CDP, DMP, or both platforms: The big question for marketers today

When it comes to the CDP-vs.-DMP debate, it’s critical for you, other growth teams, and your tech decision-makers to ask one key question: “Do we need one, the other, or both?”

As a technology user, a CDP, without question, gives you a better base of data to work with.

It’s a dataset of your actual audience that can be activated for use cases across the entire customer lifecycle: acquisition, engagement, conversion, and retention.

There aren’t restrictions on the first-party data you can collect. The customer segmentation capabilities in a customer data platform occur in real time. And the CDP is channel-agnostic to ensure the seamless flow of data between marketing and business technologies.

In short, if you, your team, and your organization as a whole want to …

… then you don’t need a data management platform.

In fact, you’d be (vastly) underwhelmed by the DMP’s approach to doing this kind of thing where such functionality appears to exist within the solution.

Take our CDP Readiness Assessment today to learn if a customer data platform is the right tech to help you execute your growth initiatives and realize your strategic ambitions.

cdp readiness assessment

See what BlueConic can do for you

Whether you’re looking for operational efficiencies or improved marketing effectiveness through data activation, our customer data platform can help.