In 2018, customer data platforms (CDPs) rocketed to the forefront of the martech conversation. With tag managers, data warehouses, and analytics platforms (among others) joining the new world of CDPs every day, it can be difficult to keep track of who does what, and how various systems either complement, replace, or interact with each other.

One of the questions that we hear on a regular basis is in regards to how CDPs and data management platforms (DMPs) differ or overlap. Namely, if you have a DMP, do you need a CDP? How are they different? How are they similar?

It is our belief that CDPs and DMPs are unique and complementary platforms. The purpose of this article is to help marketers understand the typical feature set of each platform and highlight how they can work together to drive an improved customer experience.

Understanding DMPs

What is a DMP?

At the highest level, a DMP is a tool that consolidates data primarily from second- and third-party data sources and allows organizations to segment their audiences. While DMPs can track some first-party data, their main data sources are second- and third-party non-PII (personally identifiable information) data such as cookies, IP addresses, and device IDs. DMPs do not store any type of PII.

How does a DMP work?

A DMP tracks individuals by using a third-party cookie ID that it assigns to every user. As the user continues to navigate across the web, the DMP is able to track that cookie ID and record data pertaining to the individual’s interests and intent, and place that individual into relevant segments for activation and analysis.

Who Benefits From a DMP?

The primary beneficiaries of a DMP are marketing and media teams. Some common high-value DMP use cases include:

  • Identifying and creating high-value audience segments to target across paid media
  • Analyzing audience data to uncover potentially untapped customer segments
  • Leveraging DMP attribute data to enhance owned channel personalization (more on this later)

Common DMP platforms include Adobe Audience Manager, Lotame, Oracle BlueKai, Salesforce Krux, and Neustar, among others.

Understanding CDPs

What is a CDP?

The CDP Institute defines a CDP as a “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems." This definition is quite broad and covers a wide array of platforms with drastically different capabilities.

Our view is that there are three principal levels of CDP functionality, and each level builds on the previous level to provide additional value. At the most basic level, categorization is based on the ability to store data (Level 1), pass data to other systems (Level 2), and directly act on the data (Level 3). Please refer to this white paper for more information on CDPs and each of these levels of functionality.

As you would expect with an emerging martech category, the specifics of what capabilities are included in a CDP are still being defined. With that in mind, for the rest of this article, we will refer specifically to Evergage’s CDP capabilities rather than make overly broad generalizations.  

Evergage as a CDP

Evergage is a Level 3 CDP, which means that it can take in data from other sources, analyze data, and act on data to deliver personalized experiences — in real time, across channels, and at the 1:1 level.

classifying CDPs

How Does Evergage Work?

Evergage is a central component of a marketer’s tech stack. It captures deep behavioral data within a business’s owned properties while building, maintaining, and stitching together individual profiles for each customer and prospect — whether known or anonymous. In addition to inherently tracking deep behavioral data, Evergage has an open and extensible orchestrations/API layer to ingest and pass additional supplemental data from and to third-party systems.

With robust individual-level data, Evergage can deliver experiences and affect change across a business’s owned channels (web, email, mobile, call center, in-store, etc.) in real-time (<20ms). As a dual CDP and real-time personalization engine, Evergage is unique in its ability to be both a system of record and a system of action.

Breaking Down the Key Differences Between DMPs and Evergage’s CDP

With a better understanding of where DMPs and CDPs fit from a capability perspective, it’s easier to highlight the primary differences between the platforms. The table below outlines key differentiators between DMPs and Evergage’s CDP: CDP vs. DMPAs you can see, while there is some modest overlap, each system largely serves different purposes. Evergage’s CDP sits entirely within the owned properties (though it can integrate with third-party systems), maintains individual-level profiles, and has the power to affect experiences across channels. A DMP, while still powerful, is a much more passive data capture and segmentation tool that extends beyond owned properties and informs other systems of action like a Demand-side Platform (DSP) or Evergage.

Based on these unique capabilities and respective gaps, CDPs and DMPs can work together to form a very powerful combination.

How Does Evergage Work with DMPs?

There are three primary ways to use a DMP together with Evergage to increase the relevancy of a customer experience:

  • Enhance personalization capabilities for first-time visitors by leveraging DMP data in real time through a client-side integration
  • Enrich customer profiles with third-party attribute data from a DMP
  • Push first-party behavioral segments from the CDP (that a DMP does not capture) into the DSP for further personalized paid media modeling and targeting

The first use case capitalizes on a DMP’s ability to track an individual across the web. DMPs offer attribute or persona data collected from websites outside of the business’s owned properties that could inform initial personalization when a new visitor lands on the business’s website. Through a client-side integration in the visitor's browser, Evergage can call out to the DMP before the page loads in milliseconds to see if any information is available. If there’s a match, Evergage can use the attribute data (age, persona, etc.) and begin to personalize the experience from that first visit.

Incorporating DMP attribute data is also useful for existing or returning visitors. A DMP might have valuable information on a user from search or shopping behavior outside of the business’s properties that could impact personalized recommendations. For example, if a shopper browses televisions on a retail site but leaves before making a purchase, Evergage would not know if the customer ended up purchasing a TV on another site. A DMP could tell Evergage that the customer did purchase a TV somewhere else. This piece of customer lifecycle information is critical in helping Evergage select the most relevant experience.

In the final use case, DMPs are frequently leveraged to help inform media buys through a DSP. Evergage can supplement a DMP's efforts by passing behavioral segments that the DMP is not able to track/capture to the DSP to further improve retargeting efforts.

Leveraging Evergage and a DMP for a Fortune 500 Insurance Company

Here’s an example of how a Fortune 500 insurance company uses Evergage in conjunction with its DMP. In an ultra-competitive marketplace, the company needed to improve customer acquisition. One of the primary objectives of its website is to drive more leads to its agents through the “contact an agent” call-to-action.

One of the key areas that the company wanted to address was the ability to entice visitors from organic search with unique offers the moment they arrived. Since these visitors had indicated interest in a specific insurance product (by conducting a search), the company wanted to quickly demonstrate its competitive differentiators for that product.

By integrating Evergage with its DMP, the client was able to identify when visitors arrived from a search engine and, instead of presenting the general information typically displayed on the insurance page (e.g., auto insurance), immediately presented specific, relevant promotional offers to pique interest.

This integration helped drive a 45% lift in “contact an agent requests” for the client.


DMPs and CDPs both bring distinct value to the customer experience and provide complementary capabilities. If you are interested in learning more about Evergage’s capabilities and value as a CDP and personalization solution, take a read through our CDP white paper and request a demo today.