Using your own CRM data in your campaign: where do you start?


CRM onboarding: what is it?

CRM onboarding, or CRM matching as it is often called, enables you to shape your campaign in four ways. You can:

  • reach your own customers

  • reach similar customers

  • exclude your own customers

  • analyse insights into the users.

There are two things to bear in mind if you use this tool. First of all, you run through a privacy process. You need to allow sufficient time for this. After that, there is a technical process which has to do with preparing the data itself. Find out more about each process below.

1) Privacy process

The privacy process consists of three elements:

  • Determining the data collection strategy.

  • Requesting the right permission, also called consent.

  • Signing the necessary documents, such as the Data Sharing Agreement.

A) Develop a long-term strategy

Working with first-party data is often part of a wider data collection strategy. This strategy determines what data you want to collect, how, how often and how you keep the data up to date. The advantage of drawing up a strategy like this is that you get the most out of your data while reducing the chance of forgetting things.

When developing your strategy, it is important to ask yourself the following questions about CRM onboarding:

  • Is the data useable/useful in the context of CRM matching?

  • Do the privacy laws allow me to use the data?

B) Ensure you have a legal basis

As soon as you know how you want to collect data and how you are able to do it, you need to determine the legal basis for using the data for your chosen purposes (such as targeted advertising). You have two options: either ask the user for consent or invoke legitimate interest. Here’s a golden tip: always be transparent towards the user. For instance, it is important to state which parties the data may be shared with.

C) Sign the necessary documents

Last but not least, we will make the required contractual arrangements together. These ‘Data Sharing Agreements’ set out the purposes for which the shared data may and may not be used, and what the rights and obligations of each party are. Once both parties (in this case, the customer and DPG Media) have signed the contract, the CRM matching can begin.

You only run through the privacy process once, even if you want to use a different CRM file next time. However the steps described above do take some time, given that input and approval is needed from various departments. As soon as the process is complete, the technical process can begin.

- Lukas Hermus, Senior Business Development Specialist Digital -

2) Technical process

The technical aspect consists of four steps:

A) Step 1

It may seem obvious, but the first step is still defining the desired ‘use case’. This means asking questions such as: is it clear which user segment you want to work with? Are you going to use the entire list of users or a niche segment? Do you want to target specific users, or, conversely, exclude certain users from your campaign? Do you need lookalikes (*) or not? We look forward to offering you advice on all these issues.

B) Step 2

Once the use case is established, we determine which ‘matching keys’ we will use. These keys enable us to identify a user precisely. How does that work? CRM matching is based on users known to both parties, usually because the users have a personal account or have left data with the seller after a purchase, for example. In other words, both parties do need access to the same keys so that we can create an overlap. The most common matching key is the e-mail address, but you can also use keys such as a physical address or telephone number. At DPG Media, you can use these three keys in Datalab.

C) Step 3

Once your intentions have been specified, you – the advertiser – make your data available. You can do that by exporting the data from your CRM platform. You can also ask your data team to help. As you see, this step is about checking who has the necessary access rights to help you. As soon as you have ‘got hold’ of the data, you can start preparing it. In this step, it is important for the CRM file to be of the right type and correctly formatted. This often requires some preparatory work. In Datalab, for instance, we use a .csv file that can contain both standard text and hashed data, which needs every matching key to be filled in as a column heading with a precisely defined name.

C) Step 4

Now the file is ready, it is easy to upload it to your data platform. In Datalab, we use a quick and simple ‘drag & drop’ system to upload the .csv file. After uploading, the available records are automatically matched between the two data sets. The result of this matching exercise is a list of users who are known to both parties and can be reached by either of them. We can immediately access the list to use in a campaign, but it is also possible to make lookalikes right away. To do that, we search for users with a similar profile. Finally, Datalab enables you to receive extra insights into the matched users, such as the gender distribution, a breakdown by age group or more information about their reading and viewing behaviour.


So a certain amount of preparation is required before you can start working with CRM data. Are you an advertiser with valuable first-party data that you want to use in a campaign? Feel free to get in touch with Lukas Hermus, our Senior Business Development Specialist Digital Data. He looks forward to taking you on a further exploration of the wonderful world of data.

(*) A CRM audience is a source of valuable data. All your customers have specific socio-demographic characteristics, online interests and behaviours. DPG can use these characteristics to identify similar users. This process happens automatically in Datalab if you create a ‘lookalike’ audience. That way you can use your own data quickly and efficiently for purposes such as searching for potential new customers.