Customer Data Platform vs Data Management Platform: which should you use?


When interrogating the “customer data platform vs data management platform” argument, there are a few key points brands need to consider. Today, marketing relies on access to data. And for marketers to be able to leverage data they collect, they need sophisticated systems.

Like most things, the choice of which platform your business commits to ultimately comes down to your brand’s requirements, both now and in the future.

For example, you’ll need to answer certain questions that include:

  • What kind of information do you need now, and in what information would you need the future to support your marketing decisions?
  • Will you use primary data alone or rely on second-party and third-party data points?
  • How do you plan to use data you collect? Will it be to produce hyper-personalised marketing campaigns or will you settle for more general and audience-based customer engagement?

Customer data platform vs data management platform

These are the four must-know differences between customer data and data management platforms.

1. Usage

Data management platforms (DMPs) are used to collect anonymous data on customers. This data is then ingested and connected to form the clearer pictures of the audiences marketers target.

While the ability to aggregate data from various sources can be helpful, DMPs only use anonymous data points. As such, DMPs only help marketers better understand audiences to inform the possible direction of digital advertising campaigns.

Customer data platforms (CDPs), on the other hand, offer more specific information. While they can leverage data from third-party sources, much of their insights are based on primary data.

This means companies are not limited to anonymous customer information as with DMPs. Instead, they know exactly which customer performed which act, and have access to other information like transaction history, and personally identifiable details. This level of depth empowers marketing teams to deliver hyper-personalised marketing experiences with offers that can lead to accelerated sales cycles.

2. Competitive advantage

Data management platforms are, by nature, typically accessible to all companies. As brands work to develop more effective marketing strategies and campaigns, they seek out as much data as they can find to make informed decisions. This means a brand’s competitive advantage can’t be elevated based on common industry knowledge.

Customer data platforms use primary customer data. This allows them to leverage unique customer behaviour at various touchpoints to personalise future interactions. As more buyers become exposed to brands using customer data platforms, companies are able to gather even more data and continue the cycle of building unique and enriched customer profiles for more effective marketing.

3. Customer data vs audience data

While customer data collected by data management platforms include demographic, behaviour, and location information, it is still limited by anonymity. But even anonymity serves a purpose. When combined with primary customer data using a customer data platform, brands can develop a greater perspective of their customers.

Anonymous data, therefore, helps validate any marketing ideas, where unique customer profiles inform targeted marketing initiatives.

4. Organisational benefits

Data management platforms do a great job of aggregating and analysing data. While they are the perfect supplementary solution, customer data platforms are capable of so much more. For example, as CDPs collect data and create customer profiles, this information is accessible to the rest of your organisation.

Business intelligence can be formed around how your customers are responding to your brand. Customer support teams also benefit. With access to customer profiles, support teams can better understand products and service challenges customers may have experienced. Sales can also take action by analysing buyer behaviour for smarter sales enablement initiatives.


While data is critical for driving effective marketing, the ways you leverage it makes all the difference. Data management platforms are best used as supporting solutions, helping you validate marketing ideas. Customer data platforms are more exacting. They use data gathered from direct interactions with your customers and help you deliver unparalleled personalised customer experiences.

If you would like to speak to one of our experts for more information, get in touch with us today. 

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