A 360-degree view of the customer has always been the holy grail of marketing, but since 2013, it has also been the impetus behind a new category of martech — customer data platforms (CDPs).

Sharing similarities with customer relationship management, data management, and tag management systems, CDPs have the ability to collect, store, and normalize large volumes of data while creating a persistent customer identifier that spans across data sets.

While gaining traction slowly at first, CDPs built momentum in 2016 when the Customer Data Platform Institute was launched. Today, it is attracting significant investment because of its focus on first-party data (in vogue since GDPR).


50 the number of CDPs in 2018 (twice as many as in 2017)


Movéo insight

The most confusing thing about CDPs is that many martech solutions profess to offer a “single view” of the customer, but in reality it’s often assembled on the fly from many sources of data rather than coming from a central location (as with a true CDP system).

While there is no precise definition of CDPs, the following are table stakes:

  • Managed by marketing (not IT)
  • Employ a unified, persistent, single database
  • Utilize a consistent identifier that links all of a customer’s data
  • Fully accessible by external systems