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Are CDPs Worth the Hype?

By Camila Martinez-Granata

Consumer data platforms, or CDPs, have revolutionized the way businesses collect and analyze data, and for good reason. CDPs have helped make once troubling issues such as data silos and communication bottlenecks a thing of the past. In 2021, 73% of companies reported CDPs will be critical to their customer service efforts. 


To keep up with demand, the CDP industry has ramped up its internal investments–in 2021 alone, the industry invested a staggering $853 million in research. In today’s rapidly-evolving digital landscape, the accurate and efficient utilization of consumer data is key. While it may be obvious that businesses need better fragmentation, personalization, and dynamic analytics to stay competitive, CDPs may not be an all-in-one solution.


When investing in a CDP, questions arise: What are CDPs actually capable of, and how do they work? And perhaps most importantly: Can CDPs meet companies' most pressing needs? Are they worth it? 


Read on to learn more about CDPs, and whether they are the right solution for you and meet brand needs.

CDPs in a nutshell

CDPs collect, organize, and analyze customer data, which can be elevated with continuous intelligence and real-time analytics. According to the independent CDP Institute, the three critical components of a CDP are:


  • Packaged software: CDPs are prebuilt systems specifically designed to meet the needs of individual clients.
  • A persistent, unified customer database: CDPs collect data across various systems to create comprehensive profiles on individual customers whose behavior is tracked and updated over time.
  • Accessible to other systems: Data stored by CDPs can be accessed by other systems for analysis and customer management.


The most competitive marketers today understand the true value of data isn’t quantitative, but qualitative. CDPs do so by enriching data, making it accessible across all branches of business, and providing segmentation so data can be utilized dynamically.

What CDPs are great at

With around 162 CDPs in the industry to choose from, each supports a different variety of services and capabilities. Some companies may want stronger data warehouse capabilities, while others may need more comprehensive customer journey analytics. Now more than ever, brands have the agency to choose the CDP that best suits their needs. CDPs possess several enticing and essential components and capabilities:


  • Unifying customer data: CDPs allow marketers to match anonymous data to customer/user profiles for their brands. By capturing this data that would otherwise be missing or anonymous, marketers can better optimize their marketing efforts. Moreover, as third-party cookies become obsolete, brands will depend on CDPs to pull together fragmented data into one cohesive profile.


  • Compliance and regulation: Compliance and regulation law are always changing. And in order to avoid fines, remain compliant, and protect their data, brands need to rely on tools that have data security measures in place. While those measures may vary from CDP to CDP, each has basic data security and privacy in place. 

  • Accurate analytics: The gap between understanding data and leveraging them for agile business decisions is a game-changer when it comes to retention, increased ROI, and product improvements. Accurate analytics give marketers critical information to make dynamic marketing decisions, such as tracking returns to customers, audience activation, and customer actions and activity with a brand.

Where CDPs fall short

While CDPs offer many essential services, just because they work for some businesses does not mean they’ll work for all.


  • Not all CDPs are created equal: With so many CDPs to choose from, most emphasize a few core elements. Finding one that checks all the boxes you require could be a real challenge.

  • No real-time analytics: Although CDP analytics have varying ranges in how to pull near real-time data, they are not truly real-time. Real-time analytics offer an unparalleled advantage to marketers who want to optimize their advertising and customer service. From detecting lead submissions to tracking engagement in real-time, marketers can act in the moment to improve their campaign performances and reach out to potential clients quickly.

  • No capacity for true customer journey orchestration: Competitive businesses understand optimizing customer journeys is essential to enhanced customer experiences. While CDPs can capture customer data and build a comprehensive user profile, they often lack the ability to apply that data to a customer journey visualization. Without granular, all-encompassing customer journey analytics and visualizations, marketers face an uphill battle in piecing together how customers interact with their efforts–and where there are opportunities for improvement. 

  • Adapting to cookie-collecting regulations: Third-party trackers, also known as cookies, are moving toward extinction. As more regulations make cookie collection more difficult, these will present more challenges for CDPs.

  • Difficult, time-consuming integrations: Data integration doesn’t happen overnight. This process can take up to three months, depending on factors such as the CDP, and what data brands and marketers are working with–especially if there is personal sensitive information involved. A recent report by Advertiser Perceptions revealed that less than half of current CDP users have successfully integrated forms of first-party data related to product usage and offline interactions.

  • Cost: To put it simply, CDPs aren’t cheap–and a considerable investment for any company. Gartner estimates CDPs licenses can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 annually. Not to mention, there might be additional costs for implementation, training, and maintaining a CDP in-house–leaving brands with a hefty bill to pay. Brands need to critically review their budget capabilities and goal before investing in a CDP, which is often easier said than done.

  • CDPs aren’t a privacy-first solution: CDPs certainly follow data compliance, security requirements, and regulations. However, CDPs were designed primarily to collect and analyze data, and security capabilities aren’t consistent across all CDPs. This can make CDPs vulnerable to threats and risks, like third-party breaches or cyberattacks. Some CDPs lack the necessary security to protect the most sensitive data, such as HIPPA or financial information. When investing in a CDP, it’s essential to ensure they meet your brand’s specific data privacy and security needs. 

Enrich your CDP data with Scuba

CDPs are a powerful method to unify customer data and leverage insights to improve customer experience and drive a brand’s revenue. While they have many perks, and many brands already implement CDPs, their worth really comes down to whether they meet a brand’s unique needs.


Some CDPs might be perfect for one brand but may not make the cut for others. Infallible security, comprehensive real-time analytics, and customer journey analytics are pivotal to a brand’s success–which CDPs can’t deliver on. That’s where Scuba Analytics can help.


Scuba’s continuous intelligence platform elevates and enhances CDPs and relieves some CDP gaps and pitfalls in service and capability. As a privacy-first solution, Scuba’s real-time continuous intelligence can help brands excel in the following:


  • Privacy and security: Unlike most CDPs, Scuba’s robust privacy measures protect customer data behind company firewalls, in addition to being SOC 2 Type 2 certified, GDPR compliant, IS0 27018 certified, and Privacy Shield Certified.

  • Real-time analytics: The importance of real-time analytics cannot be stressed enough–analyzing data in real-time allows marketers better informed, more dynamic decision-making.

  • Deeper insights into customer journeys: By better understanding their customers' journeys, marketers can hone in on specific customer touchpoints, leading to greater overall audience activation.

Want to learn more about how to get the most out of your CDP with Scuba? Request a demo today or talk to a Scuba expert.

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