Steve Jobs, DMPs and the Closed System

Over the weekend I managed to watch the latest Steve Jobs film…Martin Scorsese’s interpretation of the Apple co-founder, who is depicted in the most recent film as a visionary who see’s what no one else appears to be able to see:

The world wants a closed system with end to end control

The concept of a closed system isn’t new to marketing – however the only ones able to facilitate anywhere near this type of holistic offering (namely Facebook and Google) have serious deficiencies in doing so, and certainly can’t facilitate the all-encompassing solution advertisers seek today. Worse still, outside of the big two, the adtech ecosystem is becoming more disjointed with thousands of tech vendors entering the space and the dream of an elegant closed system moving further and further away.

In its place, the industry is looking to the DMP to plug the holes in the bucket, and to stem the flow of data and marketing dollars that continues to seep through the gaps.

The world is getting more complicated not less

The world of marketing and communications is becoming increasingly fragmented and difficult to manage. The explosion of devices, platforms, formats, buying platforms, and data has resulted in confusion and frustration.

Advertisers face a battle to either operate strategically and tactically in order to take advantage of new innovations, or to work within a limited single environment to maintain a single customer view and 360-degree perspective of their media.

As issues continue to arise from the disjointed adtech ecosystem and the low rates of interoperation between DSP’s, Ad Servers and Bid Management Platforms. advertisers and publishers alike have been searching of a single solution to the pre-existing and new challenges they face.

Can the DMP be a silver bullet for adtech?

In the past three weeks I have received over a dozen RFI’s all seeking a DMP with differing capabilities. Some are looking for in-built content recommendation engines, some for cross-device graphs, some for frequency management and bid optimisation, some for attribution modelling, some for in-built on boarding solutions. Meanwhile existing clients seek to drive their own internal solutions and push the boundaries of the DMP.

This is a symptom of a world in which everyone is looking to plug gaps and to create an end to end system.

The challenges facing the DMP today appear almost unlimited. However, resources are not, and every decision a DMP vendor makes has an opportunity cost associated. The DMP is an exceptionally powerful tool in the arsenal of any business. It’s ability to collect, unify, manage and activate audience data is unparalleled. But as the challenges of marketers and publishers continue to develop – it’s illogical to believe that the DMP can be the ultimate panacea for all of the problems facing the industry.

Should we embrace fragmentation?

I don’t know what Jobs would have made of the adtech industry, but I doubt he would have been particularly impressed with the disjointed and discontinued nature of it. Fragmentation breeds chaos, and that’s an unnerving environment for someone seeking to close all loops within a single system.

For the rest of us, fragmentation is a way of life – something we have all had to evolve with and build mechanisms around. The DMP is the latest in a range of technologies that try to patch this broken system, and mitigate its impact on our marketing efforts. The introduction of an integrated and truly agnostic technology solution could prove to offer the best of both worlds, a central view with the multiple specialised systems connected. A fragmented but connected ecosystem that reduces and manages our losses in lieu of a perfect closed system.

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