Customer Data Platforms and Where They Fit Into Your Tech Stack


Sep 16, 2019


With technology rapidly evolving, are you still using the old playbook?

We often hear from leaders across the sports and entertainment world,…”We [the industry] are lagging behind in terms of adopting best-in-class tech. The sports industry needs to innovate and find inspiration from other leading industries”. Despite this desire, it can be hard to take the step-back needed to identify, adopt, and implement the cutting-edge best practices that will ultimately push the industry forward.

The sports and entertainment sales and marketing technology stack often times falls victim to the difficult challenge that innovation presents. With so many players in the space, all fighting for the same limited budget, and organizations divided in their priorities on how to use data it can be hard to cut through the noise to understand what technology is right for my organization? When is the right time to implement it? and what is the ROI?

As a result, many sports organizations are stuck reusing practices from the now out-of-date, “how to build sports technology and analytics capabilities” playbook,  that dates back to the beginning of the data movement over 10+ years ago. Technology and the way customers interact with it is completely different than only a few years ago. What are you doing to evolve your strategies at the customers’ pace? 

The first step is realizing that there are new opportunities and technologies hitting the market that can make a significant impact on your business. Organizations need not shy away from these new opportunities simply because “that’s not how it’s been done in the past”. For example, if we look back to 2009, here were some of the things happening:

  • Taxis rule the roost and the term “ride-sharing” is non-existent

  • Black Eyed Peas launch “I got a feeling” and “Boom Boom Pow”

  • Nokia and RIM (Blackberry) makeup over 50% of the global smartphone market

You can see where this is going…fast-forward to today:

  • Uber grows to 110M monthly active users world-wide, an estimated 69% market share for passenger transport

  • Black-Eyed Peas get back together in 2018…but without Fergie

  • Samsung, Apple, Huawei…you’ve heard of them right?!

When it comes to customer data technology, Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) really got started around 2015 as a response to data-driven marketers looking to make customer data more actionable and accessible. Traditional methods for collecting data were not purpose-built for generating omni-channel personalized customer (or fan in our case) experiences at scale. Today’s customers demand a more targeted, personalized approach, however many sports franchises are still stuck using the wrong tools for the job.

With more questions all the time on what a Customer Data Platform can do and how it fits in with existing sports and technology systems we felt it would be helpful to answer some questions on the sales and marketing tech stack and how a CDP might fit for you.

How is a CDP Different than CRM systems like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics or Score? 

CRM systems were designed to capture personal interactions with a customer. They are a great source for capturing data and organizing customer outreaches which make them an important and valuable data source. Although constantly evolving, these systems were never designed to import large volumes of data from a variety of systems, nor are they designed to unify a single view of customers from across all customer-facing systems. The data structures in a CRM are designed to facilitate those important customer interactions where as a CDP’s are constructed with scalable, personalized data-driven marketing purposes in mind. A good CDP should integrate with your CRM system, augment its value and vice versa.

Are DMPs (Data Management Platforms) a CDPs ugly cousin?

Depends who you ask…and how you define ‘ugly’…just kidding, the answer is no. DMPs have done an amazing job of streamlining a marketer’s ability to be effective in digital ad channels. They are most focused on impressions to anonymous, audiences and look-a-likes and less focused on known customers and offline data sources. CDPs are able to leverage data that exists in a DMP. The skinny:


  • Anonymous and probabilistic

  • Cookie-based and asynchronous

  • Long-tail adoption only

  • Taxonomy-based or limited data model

  • Mainly ad network and DSP integrations

Today’s CDP Reality

  • Users are identifiable

  • Real-time API economy

  • Ability to connect both offline and online data

  • Ability to orchestrate engagement through multiple on and offline channels

  • Flexible data model, schema on read

  • Breadth and depth of integrations

We have an Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) internally. How does a CDP compliment what we’ve already invested in?

EDWs came into popularity during the 1990s and are still used by sports and entertainment organizations today. A good CDP leverages data that exists in your internal data warehouse and makes that data more accessible, predictive and actionable.

EDWs are designed primarily to support additional analysis and reporting, not direct customer interactions. Among other things, this means data warehouses generally update data daily, weekly, or less often, while CDPs usually ingest data in near real-time and make it available quickly if not instantly. It’s true that most CDPs use the same data storage technologies as data warehouses, but the difference is that a CDP does additional processing to make the data immediately usable for the non-technical professional, while a data warehouse does not.

Data Warehouses

  • Focused primarily on offline/ transactional data and not digital data sources and use cases

  • Not meant for personalization at scale

  • Not meant for automated machine-learning model development

  • Great for custom deep dive analyses and general reporting

  • Can be an excellent source of clean, assembled data if done well

  • Not meant to manage and associate cookies and digital audiences into actionable SCV

  • Fan segmentation is not self serve

  • Difficult to access without a coding background

  • Great data source to feed CDPs for data-driven marketing purposes

  • Not designed for multi-channel marketing and sales campaign orchestration/ revenue attribution

Why does what I’m building internally differ from what CDP partners are offering?

Most CDPs are built using common technologies that your company may already own or could buy for itself. The main difference is that CDP partners have added connectors for common source systems, data preparation flows, and identity resolution processes. Your company would need to build those for itself or identify, purchase, learn, deploy, and manage a collection of commercial products that do the same things. This would almost always take more time, cost more money, present a significant risk of failure, and be harder to maintain than a CDP. It would also give marketers less control over the data that they desperately need, at lightning fast speeds.

“CDPs apply specialized technologies and pre-built processes that are tailored precisely to meet marketing (and sales) data needs. This new approach allows a faster, more efficient solution than general purpose technologies that try to solve many problems at once”.

CDP Institute

At StellarAlgo, we believe in a future where data-driven sales and marketing efforts lead to authentic, timely and personalized interactions with fans. It’s time to free your data and make data-driven marketing a reality.  

More fans.

Better Engagement.

Stellar Results.

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