DMPs made easy: how to be ready for organisational change

Strategy Consulting 13 April 2017

“DMP” is the acronym on everyone’s lips, and these days is well-known by most advertisers in Europe and in the US. Today, Data Management Platforms are used by 68% of publishers, media agencies, and brands in Europe*. However, when setting up a DMP, there is one question that is usually asked too late: “What about governance?” If a company implementing a DMP does not consider rethinking its internal structure, the DMP might fall short of its full potential.

Unfortunately, as yet there is no set model of governance that companies can follow, and so the answer to this question depends on each advertiser’s initial organisational structure. However, by keeping a few essential points in mind and asking the right questions from the beginning, the chances of successful DMP implementation are good.

What exactly do we mean by “governance”?

This term covers all the instances and roles put in place for a given project. Governance means something new at each step of the DMP project: framing, set-up, test and learn, and run. The key to success lies in clearly defining the roles and perimeters of each stakeholder, both internally and externally, at each step.

What key points should be kept in mind when launching a DMP project?

First of all, it is essential to remember that a DMP is a tool, and as such, it should be considered as a means and not an end. In theory, in the run stage, the data management plateform should merge with existing instances. However, if the DMP project is a first step towards broader digital transformation for the company, it does require that governance be adapted.

The established governance should make decision-making easier and ensure coherence between use cases and the advertiser’s Marketing & Communication strategy. Since data management plateforms are a means to centralise the management of a company’s advertising and CRM campaigns, its governance should speed up the Time-to-market (campaign launch timeline) and the transition to industrialised management of the DMP.

Lastly, a DMP project’s success depends on teams’ abilities to improve and adapt use cases as the operation is ongoing. Working on use cases to add sophistication and complexity cannot be done unless adequate governance allows for information sharing among all players involved in building the client relationship.

What are the internal and external stakeholders in a DMP project?

There are as many possible forms of governance as there are players. Brands put centralised and multi-role organisational systems in place. It is essential that stakeholder skills and experiences complement each other, particularly during the framing and set-up phases of the DMP project.

The phases of framing, set-up, and use case launch during the DMP project involve many stakeholders who must be maintained throughout the phases

  • Sponsors that make key decisions for the project, generally marketing and communication directors or CIOs, etc.
  • A transversal core team, made up of representatives of involved departments: marketing, communication, IT, digital media, etc.
  • Legal, IT security, and technical specialists on subjects connected to the data lake, tag deployment, etc.
  • A team of consultants specialised in data management

Generally, a DMP project begins with framing, undertaken by a specialised consulting firm and an internal transversal team within the company. This phase has two main focuses: defining prioritary use cases, and selecting a DMP tool.

All players are asked to contribute depending on their skills during workshops to create use cases, as the objective is to build a cross-channel client experience. Business teams will be helpful in identifying business needs during strategy-defining workshops, legal and IT security teams will give approval for DMP implementation, and technical teams will play a role in operational workshops.

Building a transversal core team representing these different departments provides a broad vision of the company’s activity, and thus leads to suitable framing. This team takes part in all workshops, so that a broad view of the company’s challenges can be kept in mind when it comes to making decisions. This team must be involved in everyday project management to oversee the various work streams. For this, the team of consultants should put recurring instances in place to facilitate this overseeing:

  • Weekly check-ins to recap the next steps for different projects with the core team
  • Project committees with company sponsors

The set-up phase (during which the data management plateform will be implemented) and the test and learn phase (during which representative use cases will be launched) cannot be thought of as on-going operational phases, but rather crucial steps for the future of the DMP. The goal is to allow the tool to get some experience, and to find the appropriate governance for the run phases. It is thus necessary to maintain the same core team, formed during the framing phase, until the end of the project, both for its transversal nature and to keep a record. Instances and stakeholders therefore remain the same throughout these phases of the project as during the framing phase.

Running the DMP: gradually shifting stakeholder roles

During the run phase, the project’s stakeholders must remain the same as during the set-up phase.
Nevertheless, the core team will gradually have to give way to the DMP operator.

But actually… What is a DMP operator?
This person/organisation drives the DMP, operationally speaking. They deploy campaigns, control DMP configuration (inter-tool connection, campaign delivery, data retrieval) and analyse the DMP’s performance. The role is both technical and analytical.
Some companies prefer to train someone internally for this position, while others employ an already-trained individual from beyond the company. Still other companies contract with consultants to fill this position full-time.

Remaining stakeholders (sponsors, technical, and legal referents) will only be solicited occasionally, for use case optimisation. The running of a DMP is characterised by the iterative and continual improvement of initiatives, from both a business and technical point of view.


Because use cases are intended to help incorporate the data management plateform into existing instances and processes, they should correspond to the company’s overall marketing and communication strategy.

The construction of cross-channel use cases that involve both media and CRM will be organised using decision trees, and divided by target audience (prospective vs. existing clients, for example). Stakeholders will thus be the same as they were before the DMP was set up, but they will work with the DMP operator who will identify potential use cases for the data management plateform. DMP scenarios will be constructed in workshops, led by the teams responsible for managing digital marketing tools. New use cases should be approved by legal and technical contacts. The DMP operator will be in charge of operational implementation as well as measuring campaign performance.

Simultaneously, as the cases get progressively more complex, the test and learn mode will be applied for good control of the DMP’s perimeter. The DMP operator will be in charge of controlling these changes, and in constant communication with the CIO.

At the end of the day, two key elements should be kept in mind. First, creating governance is a job that implies deep knowledge of the structure and internal function of a company. Secondly, governance is intended to evolve. It does not remain fixed, but changes as the DMP project itself develops.

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