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Harnessing the Power of Customer Data Platforms

CRM CRM, Consumer Insights & Activation, Data, Death of the cookie 4 min read
Profile picture for user Elia Niboldi

Written by
Elia Niboldi
Associate Director of Customer Data (CDP)

A laptop showing google analytics

Whether you work in the marketing and advertising industry or not, it’s as clear as day to all that the digital space never sleeps. Truly innovative in spirit, there are always new technologies, tools and trends on the horizon. One more recent tried-and-tested development is Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), with many of the largest adtech and martech players investing in CDP capabilities and resources. Already last year, CDPs were highlighted by Salesforce as one of the top priority investments for Chief Marketing Officers, citing that customer data can help set the stage for empathetic marketing—and they only continue to climb in importance.

CDPs are hot and happening, but what exactly is their purpose? Following Gartner’s definition, “a customer data platform is a marketing technology that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and to optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.” There are three types, all of which aim to drive efficiency: “collection” CDPs, which primarily aggregate existing first-party profile data; “resolution” CDPs, which compress owned first-party profile data; and “activation” CDPs, which generate new first-party profile data. You get the gist, this marketing technology focuses on using first-party data. 

Considering the rising demand to harness the power of customer data, my team at Media.Monks and I continue to expand our CDP offering. Whether you’re working to become a data-driven organization or looking to enhance personalization, we’re here to help you set up the right platform. 

Tackling this topic through our CDP Evaluation Framework. 

We tell every brand we collaborate with to ask themselves: “What is the best CDP for us?” Companies, like people, do not live in a vacuum and should therefore make sure to account for every variable. However, not everyone knows this—since CDPs are relatively new to the scene, there’s still a lot of uncertainty in approaching this topic. Before joining forces with our team, many of our partners initially tried to go about it on their own, only to realize how complicated it is to juggle all the different vendors involved. With hundreds of platforms claiming to be a CDP, there’s an ongoing debate about what constitutes this technology, which explains why choosing the right one is not an easy feat. 

So, where to begin? First of all, we sit down with our partner and determine what exactly they’re hoping to achieve with a customer data platform. Many companies nowadays are looking to replace their Data Management Platforms (DMPs) and leverage their first-party data in driving efficiency, keeping in mind the upcoming third-party cookie deprecation. From here on, we focus on activating the user profile and picking the right tool. While both are really important, brands tend to struggle with these steps.  

This brings us back to the complex task of choosing the best CDP for your company. To smoothen and simplify the process, we’ve developed a CDP Evaluation Framework. As a strategic partner across data, media and content, we can demonstrate to brands how a specific CDP will drive value to their business. Our CDP offering consists of different phases. First, we conduct a tool assessment to understand what data you have and how it is managed. Then, we organize a discovery workshop to understand your digital strategy, define pain points and challenges, and identify digital objectives and business requirements. Hereafter, we focus on use case design. During this phase, we assess the feasibility of certain use cases based on your organization’s digital strategy and insights gathered in the discovery workshop. Finally, we recommend the right CDP for your business and, if requested, design a 12-month timeline, roadmap and activation playbook. 

Tapping into new capabilities. 

The Customer Data Platform is a hot new topic in the digital space—and for good reason, as it unlocks a number of capabilities. First of all, by creating a rich user profile, companies gain a better and more unified overview of their existing and prospective customers. In working with our partners, our main objective is to break down silos in information and data between different departments, making sure every team across the organization has a complete understanding of their users. 

Secondly, CDPs are first-party data tools that focus on deciphering different data sources in order to execute effortless activation. Such a strong first-party data strategy is increasingly necessary considering the upcoming third-party cookie deprecation, and thus helps future-proof your business. Thirdly, the centralization of user data enables companies to set up the customer journey across channels in a way that they can speak to existing and potential customers with the same tone of voice. This, in turn, makes customer communication more efficient and easier to evaluate. On top of that, leveraging user data is crucial because it helps companies predict future customer behaviors. 

Team up with an external partner to maximize your CDP’s value. 

The benefits of CDPs may be loud and clear, but actually achieving them can be quite challenging—and typically requires the support of a strong external partner. Over time, we have seen several companies pick the wrong CDP, which can reduce the ROI of the platform and, even worse, result in a loss. For example, one company came to us with the question why their CDP was not delivering the promised value. After evaluating the martech stack, we were able to conclude that they were, in fact, not getting the full value out of their CDP—because they were using the wrong CDP for their business, which was lacking certain necessary features to realize their goals. Consequently, this limited the total value that they could have derived from their first-party data. 

While some brands believe that setting up a CDP is a hop, skip and a jump into major success, our experience tells us otherwise. Bridging data sources through CDPs is just the beginning; when bringing data together in one place, the main challenge is to make sure that all the different departments work together on each activation. Interestingly, one of the main ways to achieve this is by working with an external party. This reduces the chances of attrition within an organization, as the external party is not biased and thus capable of driving activations that benefit every team within a company. 

Breaking down silos with first-party data. 

In short, setting up a CDP involves all departments and thus requires buy-in from many different people across a company. As a CDP necessitates cooperation between different teams, it’s both a technical and organizational tool that can help break down silos within an organization. While this can be challenging, we’re here to help you tackle this head-on and harness the power of first-party data.

Want to learn more? Get in touch or sign up for our virtual event “Data for Breakfast” on December 1st, where we’ll talk all things CDP. We’re looking forward to meeting you there.


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The website has been translated to English with the help of Humans and AI