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My general rule:
- Data that you want to use to use for audience building and targeting should go in Audience Manager
- Data that you want to use to supplement Analytics reports and existing Target audiences should (also) go in Customer Attributes (it is fine to upload the data to both systems)
- In Adobe Analytics, you can use uploaded dimensions directly in Analytics reports and segments. For example, if you upload a customer status (bronze, silver, gold), you can use that dimension along side other dimensions in your reports. For example, conversions by gold members who viewed a particular site section. (I think Analytics can now ingest Audience Manager audiences for reporting, but I don't think this is at a specific dimension level. This is a new feature that I haven't looked into. So this line is blurring.)
- In Adobe Target, you can use customer attributes along side of any other data in the Target profile (members who are bronze from California).
So, think of customer attributes as supplemental dimensions that can enhance the capabilities of a single solution.
Audience Manager (DMP):
Audience Manager is more focused on building and sharing actionable audiences (segments) than it is on reporting. Audience Manager has some really great features for targeting experiences, and once you start using it you'll see how powerful the targeting capabilities are even without third-party data. A few things:
- Instant (next hit) audience qualification, even with complex criteria. For example, bronze members with 3 visits in the past month but no purchases. Visitors are qualified immediately on the third visit, so you can target them in that same visit.
- Recency and frequency are very powerful tools for segment building. You can do similar qualifiers in Analytics shared audiences, but there are processing delays. Audience Manager audiences are ready to go shortly after they are created.
- The trait system used by AAM is really great for building audiences. It can be a bit confusing at first, but you'll love it once you start using it. If you have a visit trait, a bronze member trait, and a purchasers trait, you can build the audience I described in the previous bullet point and it is populated immediately with all qualifiers. Then, if you increased the qualifier to 5 visits, the audience is refreshed without additional data collection. If you build a solid set of traits, audiences become dynamic and very flexible. You can build and use them basically on the fly.
- Audience Manager can store audiences in a cookie on the page or share them using a backend integration so your other marketing tools can use the same audiences (though we know you only use Adobe products ).
- Audience Manager integrates with device graphs for cross-device identification, including Adobe's device coop.
- Audience Manager can qualify visitors for an audience based on the authentication state. If a visitor is signed out, you can ignore traits that were captured when the user was signed in (Adobe Target can do this as well).
These two guides have some demo videos and additional information:
- Discover, build, and share Audiences using advanced segmentation and the Experience Cloud People service
- Personalize digital content using Adobe Target and the shared audience capabilities in the Experience Cloud
Hope this is helpful and not too confusing. If you have other questions ask and I'll do my best to answer.
This was a fantastic/well detailed answer. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain (and for posting the links to the videos--very helpful!)