Data-Driven Marketing: Single-Customer View & GDPR

Could increased data-driven marketing value be an unintended effect of GDPR?

GDPR could turn out to be a business-enabler and a value-driver…an unintended consequence, perhaps, of a law designed to protect personal data.

Here’s a recap for those of you who need it (though many won’t, as GDPR has had much media coverage)!

What is GDPR?

According to Investopedia, “the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU).”

The driving force behind GDPR is the need to provide a standard set of data protection laws across all EU member countries. It applies to all organisations processing and holding personal data within the EU (and also companies across the globe offering services within the EU). Personal data could be a name, an email address, bank details or an IP address, for example.

Since the regulations became law in May 2018, companies have been scrambling to ensure that all their marketing activity is fully compliant and that they aren’t due for any nasty surprises (€20million fine, anyone?).

With so many systems to consider, though, it’s inevitable that some areas will have been neglected.

To the average member of the public, the most obvious effect of GDPR has been on email marketing (with many millions of emails asking people to re-subscribe, often unnecessarily), but the tentacles of GDPR infiltrate the whole digital marketing ecosystem.


An ecosystem that contains a myriad of three letter acronyms: CRM, CDP, DMP, DSP, SEO, PPC, and the list goes on! For business owners, this can confuse things further.

This is the area of data-driven marketing that provides the most challenges for marketers, not only in terms of GDPR, but in integrating multiple systems and actually proving business value.

So, CRM, CDP, DMP, DSP: what do these acronyms mean? And, more important, what are they?

CRM stands for customer relationship management and has traditionally been focussed on storing customer (and potential customer) contact details when a particular consumer has been contacted either by email, phone or another method. CRM is about contact details and communications, not ‘marketing’. Further, CRM systems are not designed to hold large amounts of information or anonymous data sets.

CDP stands for customer data platform. This involves holding identified customer records alongside as much profiling data as can be gathered. However, with GDPR in place, this additional profiling data might not be very much at all. CDPs are similar to CRMs in that they focus on the identified customer or consumer but that’s where the similarity ends, because CDPs can hold large amounts of anonymous data sets. (More about this below!).

DMP translates to data management platform and describes a system that holds great chunks of anonymous profiling data. No one is identified here, but the activity across the web for each person can be used for remarketing and also for selecting ‘lookalike’ audiences (audiences that contain anonymous users who have similar characteristics to known audiences).

DSP means demand-side platform. This is purely about using a single interface for placing and managing advertising within a range of ad networks and ad exchanges.

Also to be mentioned in this debate are digital intelligence and lead identification tools. These hold information on identified companies and users as well as anonymous companies and persons.

Getting the message out. Find out more about our marketing automation expertise.

Business Value?

With the pressures placed on all these systems by GDPR, is it still possible to drive business value? What effect are the regulations having?

Well, one thing is sure: if companies already own one of more of these technologies, GDPR is forcing further adoption. Every company has been forced to audit each and every marketing or communications technology they are using for compliance.

In some cases, this will mean connecting systems so that data is updated in one place. In other cases, it will mean questioning why a tool is being used in the first place and a realisation that, apart from the GDPR considerations, more work is needed to really drive ROI.

It’s often the stick more than the carrot that ultimately gets things done. Could GDPR be the regulations ‘stick’ that actually starts driving value for many businesses within their data-driven marketing endeavours?

The ‘Single-Customer View’ Holy Grail

And what of the holy grail of the ‘single-customer view’? A single database which holds identified AND anonymous customer information; one that is capable of holding much more data than the traditional CRM and which includes everything and speaks to all systems? One that is controlled by marketers and can be used as a single place to segment and build audiences and campaigns, all while supporting outbound marketing efforts as well as inbound?

This is where the CDP excels. It can connect to all types and sources of data that have been defined as useful for marketing; internal, external, structured, batch or streaming. Crucially, a CDP will track and identify how a single person interacts with your brand at all points within an online journey.

The Customer Data Platform (CDP)

A typical Customer Data Platform will hold the following information:

• Behavioural, web and mobile data (persons and companies, both identified and anonymous)
• Transactional and order data
• Profile data
• Product data
• CRM & offline data sources

So the holy grail appears to have been reached! A single nerve centre that can be used to plan all customer journeys and campaigns, where all data for each identified customer is kept. One platform where anonymous 1st-party data can be profiled and used within external demand-side advertising systems and programmatic bidding, too.


Sounds good, doesn’t it? However, as always with a system of such potential power, there could be a catch- a GDPR catch! The recent Cambridge Analytica data leakage scandal shows that CDPs need to be policed and expertly maintained so as to be compliant at all times.

But in fact, as with all customer data, being held or linked to from one central database will likely assist GDPR compliance rather than hinder it.

Want to make sure your data-driven marketing campaigns are driving results while adhering to GDPR’s regulations? Contact us today!


Get in touch today