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Adobe Audience Manager: The Now and the Future of Adobe DMP

Adobe Audience Manager Capabilities and Expectations

Adobe Audience Manager: What’s Up and What’s Next?

Data Management Platforms (DMPs)—such as Adobe Audience Manager—have done a great job of connecting discrete data and defining target audiences for marketing and advertising.

However, with the changes in the digital marketing landscape, DMPs might soon give way to solutions of the next generation, such as Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform (RT-CDP).

In this article, we’ll look at the current state of Adobe Audience Manager and the forces driving the shift toward RT-CDP.

What is Adobe Audience Manager?

Adobe Audience Manager has been a stalwart in data management platforms since 2012. Notable global brands such as BMW, L'Oréal, Sony, and Coca-Cola have relied on it to create audiences for targeting their ads and marketing content.

Adobe’s DMP was designed to fulfill one important function for its users—consolidate large volumes of information and segment audiences based on it. It’s been fulfilling this function perfectly for three main reasons:

  • Adobe Audience Manager is designed to easily integrate with various software solutions that either serve as sources or destinations for your data streams.
  • It’s agnostic to second-party and third-party sources and doesn’t make you dependent on any specific broker, ad network, or marketplace.
  • It creates and updates marketable segments in real time allowing you to activate the freshest and the most accurate audiences.

For example, your company might use Adobe Audience Manager to source information directly from your CRM, website, and Adobe Analytics and push ready-to-market audiences to Adobe Advertising Cloud, Meta Ads Manager, LinkedIn Ads, Marketo Engage, Adobe Target, etc.

What Adobe Audience Manager Is Used for

Adobe’s DMP has proved to be a great tool for companies to refine and scale marketing personalization without compromising people’s privacy. To deliver relevant ads and digital experiences for every person, you need a tool that solves the following tasks:

  • Consolidate disparate information about your prospects and customers from different systems into one repository.
  • Merge data from separate devices used by a single person to get the most comprehensive view of every customer’s journey.
  • Build pseudonymous audiences for your marketing and advertising to comply with privacy regulations.

For example, if your company sells sportswear online, you could use a combination of browsing, CRM, and third-party data to shape an audience of people in the market for premium segment running shoes. The following schema explains this DMP use case.

Use case for Audience Manager empowering merchandising
Use case for Audience Manager empowering merchandising

Audience Manager builds a segment of visitors who have recently browsed running shoes on your website. Then it matches it with third-party data about household income to narrow the segment down. Then, it enriches the segment with information about age and gender from your CRM for proper personalization. As a result, the company gets a refined anonymous audience to target for their cross-channel marketing campaign for premium shoes.

How Adobe Audience Manager Works

In a nutshell, Adobe Audience Manager works as a pipeline, where the extract, transform, and load (ETL) processes take place. The system extracts information from various sources, transforms it to create audiences, and loads the resulting audiences to marketing and advertising software.

Audience Manager data funnel
Audience Manager data funnel

The concept looks simple. Let’s look closer at what happens at every stage of the ETL process in Adobe Audience Manager.

Data in (extraction)

Audience Manager extracts first-, second-, and third-party data into a single repository. You can connect the DMP with your technology ecosystem, your partner’s sources, or marketplaces to source information in two ways:

  • Real-time. Fresh data can get to the Audience Manager as soon as it’s been recorded by the source system. For example, you can use Adobe Analytics' server-side forwarding feature or connect tracking pixels that collect data on people’s interactions with your or your partner’s sites or apps.
  • Batch. Information can be uploaded with a certain cadence to Audience Manager and get processed in chunks. For example, you can regularly upload files from your CRM or Adobe Marketplace and similar third-party data sellers.

Adobe Audience Manager doesn’t collect personally identifiable information (PII). Instead, it assigns users unique IDs and uses these IDs to stitch together information coming from different sources. This is how the DMP creates anonymous profiles for people. Then it uses different properties of these profiles to attribute them to particular audience segments.

Audience creation (transformation)

Inside Adobe DMP, data is classified into the hierarchy of signals, traits, and segments. These concepts reflect three data transformation stages. If we make an analogy with food preparation, signals would be raw ingredients, traits would be frozen ready-to-cook foods, and segments would be ready-to-serve meals.

Signals, traits, and segments in Audience Manager
Signals, traits, and segments in Audience Manager

To create a segment in Adobe DMP, you can use a visual editor, Segment Builder, under the Manage Data module.

Segment Builder provides you with Boolean expressions (AND, OR, NOT), comparison operators (greater than, less than, equal to, etc.), and recency/frequency criteria to select a combination of traits for a segment.

Data out (loading)

To activate audiences you should push them out to various applications (destinations) used for targeted marketing and advertising activities. You can send information from your DMP to destinations using URL, cookie, or server-to-server data delivery methods allowing you to:

  • Share audiences with Adobe Analytics, Adobe Target, or other applications on your Adobe Experience Cloud.
  • Activate audiences built based on offline data on Facebook or other social media using hashed email addresses as identifiers.
  • Transfer information server-to-server to any applications integrated with your Adobe Audience Manager.
  • Configure a custom URL destination to create a pixel on the page visitors are browsing if they qualify for a particular segment.
  • Configure a custom cookie destination to add a cookie in the user’s browser to mark segments they qualify for.

With these capabilities, you can leverage different scenarios for cross-channel audience segment activation that were not available to you without Audience Manager.

AI and Algorithmic Modeling

In addition to rule-based segmentation, you can leverage machine learning capabilities to expand your audiences or build personas based on them automatically. Audience Manager provides you with two types of algorithms:

  • Look-Alike Modeling. Based on a selected segment, time range, and sources the algorithm searches for profiles with shared characteristics and creates a look-alike segment that you can use to extend the initial audience for your marketing campaign.
  • Predictive Audiences. By evaluating the propensity of unknown (unauthenticated) web and mobile visitors for a set of baseline traits and segments the algorithm classifies these anonymous visitors into personas.

Wrapping it up, we have to admit that Audience Manager offers impressive capabilities and plays a key role in digital experience personalization. However, many companies are now considering a switch to Adobe RT-CDP. What’s the reason behind this shift?

How CDP is Superior to DMP

Businesses rely on separate tools for managing audience segments at different stages of the customer lifecycle. DMPs like Audience Manager were employed to handle pseudonymous data related to potential leads, while CDPs were utilized for managing known customer data. This explains the difference between DMPs and DSPs, featured in the following comparison table.

Use CasesFocused on customer acquisition: Enhances ad targeting, and streamlines media buying.Covers the entire customer journey: Customer acquisition, retention, and relationship management.
Data TypesPseudonymous data with a focus on 3-party data enriched with (anonymized) 1-party data.Primary focus on 1-party data and 2-party data with minimal addition of 3-party data.
Profile IdentifierRelies on anonymous digital identifiers (non-PII), such as cookie ID, IDFA, etc.Creates customer profiles with durable identifiers (PII), like customer ID, name, email, address, etc.
Data RetentionShort retention periods due to primary use cases being ad targeting.Long retention periods with progressive profiles accumulating data throughout customers' lifecycles.

Adobe envisions a unified approach to data management, where a single system, Adobe Real-Time CDP, can address various use cases throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

Moving from Audience Manager to RT-CDP

The deprecation of third-party cookies is the main reason for considering alternatives to traditional DMPs. With privacy regulations becoming increasingly stringent, companies have fewer opportunities to fully use Adobe Audience Manager capabilities.

To ensure long-term success in personalization and targeting, marketers should decrease their dependence on pseudonymous cookie-based audiences. Instead, they should focus on utilizing first-party and second-party data. According to Adobe, a shift towards Real-Time CDP unified profiles from Audience Manager segments is a recommended solution.

Moving from cookie-based audiences to unified customer profiles
Moving from cookie-based audiences to unified customer profiles

Adobe provides educational materials for their Audience Manager users on how to move their audiences to Real-Time CDP or re-create them using Real-time CDP Segment Builder. For example, the course on Understanding Real-time CDP for Audience Manager Users on Experience League is meant to help users match the capabilities of these tools and feel more comfortable during the transition.


While Adobe Audience Manager offers powerful capabilities, the shift towards a cookie-less future necessitates a forward-thinking approach. Adobe RT-CDP provides enhanced functionalities and solutions that align with the changing dynamics of data management.

Whether you are considering implementing Adobe RT-CDP from scratch or transitioning to it from Adobe Audience Manager, our team is well-equipped to assist you. Let’s work together to ensure you are prepared for the cookie-less future and can navigate the changing data landscape with confidence.


Is Adobe Audience Manager the same as Adobe DMP?

Yes, Adobe Audience Manager is a comprehensive data management platform offered by Adobe.

How much does Adobe DMP cost?

The pricing for Adobe Audience Manager can vary based on the scale of your organization, the level of customization required, and the specific features and services you choose. It is important to note that there are no free trials or freemium versions of the product.

How can Adobe DMP enable analytics?

Integrating Adobe Audience Manager with Adobe Analytics allows you to combine audience data from the DMP with your website or app analytics data. This integration helps you track and measure how specific segments interact with your digital properties, uncovering valuable insights and identifying patterns.

How can Adobe DMP enable merchandising?

By utilizing Audience Manager, merchandisers can analyze data such as browsing history and purchase behavior to identify audience segments that share similar preferences. This enables them to personalize product recommendations for each customer, resulting in a higher probability of conversion and an enhanced shopping experience.

How can Adobe DMP enable personalization?

Adobe Audience Manager enables personalization by utilizing audience data to deliver tailored experiences to individual users. One use case example is personalizing website content based on audience segments. With Audience Manager, you can create segments based on user demographics, interests, or behaviors. For instance, if a segment consists of young tech enthusiasts, you can dynamically display tech-related content, promotions, or recommendations on your website to resonate with their interests.