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What’s the Difference between a DMP and an Identity Graph?

  • - Daniella Harkins
  • 3 min read

Making sense of all the acronyms—DMPs, CDPs, CRMs, DSPs—along with marketing technology terms like data lakes, full stack vs. best-of-breed—can be daunting. To help my clients navigate through the soup, I recently wrote an article for MarTech Advisor titled Acronym or Imperative: What is a DMP and Do I Need One? 

There are a few reasons why I think DMPs (data management platforms) haven’t taken off like wildfire yet. First, organizations need to be aligned to ensure valuable data sources are put into a DMP. The other reason I refer to as the “daisy-chaining.” Brands and agencies want to consolidate, yes, but they also want to ensure maximum reach for their assets. Often times, adding a DMP into the mix, while adding the ability to consolidate, can also impact the brand or agency’s ability to reach a specific set of consumers at scale. 

So what actually is the difference between a DMP and an identity graph?

Simply put, one is an application and the other is the data connectivity into the application. A DMP is a digital platform that enables the connection of digital data, audience development, and ad campaign measurement. 

Identity graph is a standalone capability that allows brands and agencies the ability to accurately manage their data at the individual level, while also making it portable to all platforms and partners—beyond just a DMP. As the leading data connectivity partner, LiveRamp is a stand-alone, untethered identity service compatible with all major DMPs, as well as directly to platforms and partners and back into your own environment. We are a capability that helps the application do things better. We provide connective tissue to identify your customers and the portability to move that data across the ecosystem safely.

LiveRamp enables brands and agencies, through a ubiquitous data connectivity layer, to move data across channels with 500+ partners, and in the real-time bidstream through our partners in the Advertising ID consortium. Identity is about a commitment to a neutral, people-based approach. It requires a focus that is not device-based and includes other data sets like search and now TV. 

So this begs the question: if I have a DMP, why do I need an identity provider like LiveRamp? Because you need a variety of identifiers—digital and offline—to make sure you know you are reaching the right person. What percentage of your users come to your website and are active on a 30-day basis? What about prospects who are not accounted for? Or people who use multiple email addresses? And lastly, do you have an offline capability to ensure the highest level of accuracy? Our graph is built on offline data and uses a CRM onboarding process as the foundation to offer true identity resolution with verified, deterministic matches. 

As I alluded to earlier, more technology partners in media activation also reduce scale. If you can go direct, do it. Daisy-chaining limits a brand’s ability to reach its consumers. Our neutrality allows you to pick the partners you want to work with while maintaining the ability to identify your target audiences accurately.

To learn about LiveRamp’s identity graph, read more on our viewpoint on identity graph methodologies.

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