Zero-copy CDP” is the latest marketing buzzword causing confusion in the Customer Data Platform (CDP) market. It implies that a CDP can leverage a data warehouse without the need for the data to exist in multiple places. The problem with this concept is that most marketing technologies require you to store data, including Personal Identifiable Information (PII), for them to operate properly. Almost all marketing tools require information from your business to function effectively. None of these technologies require a full copy of your customer data, but rather a small portion of the 360 customer view to deliver on use cases, much like a real-time CDP. 

Our approach at Tealium (because we are a real-time system), is to only retain data where there is extra value in having that data ready for activation. You can configure Tealium AudienceStream to be close to a zero-copy CDP, but you might not want to. 

The right train of thought is to think about reducing data duplication to maximize efficiency, and performance and allow you to activate against use cases. 

The concept of “zero-copy” — maintaining all customer data in a single location without needing to replicate it for various uses — presents several practical challenges in dynamic and real-time environments:

  • Scalability and Performance: Just as caching is crucial for web servers to quickly deliver content, replicating customer data (or having it readily accessible in a distributed manner) is essential for scalability and performance in marketing and customer experience applications. Real-time interactions often require rapid access to data that may not be feasible if all operations are directed at a single data store.
  • Real-time Personalization: Dynamic content personalization relies on immediate access to up-to-date customer profiles. A real-time service layer that can process and serve personalized experiences based on the latest customer interactions is critical. This often necessitates having localized copies of relevant customer data to avoid latency in data retrieval and processing.
  • Data Integration and Ecosystem Complexity: Modern marketing ecosystems involve numerous integrated platforms (e.g., advertising networks, email marketing services, CRM systems) that rely on access to customer data. The “zero-copy” approach can limit the flexibility and speed with which data is shared and acted upon across these platforms.
  • Data Resilience and Availability: Relying on a single source of data without replication can pose risks in terms of data resilience and availability. In distributed systems, having copies of data across different nodes or services can ensure that customer interactions remain uninterrupted even if one part of the system fails.

While the “zero-copy” approach highlights important considerations around data management efficiency and control, the realities of digital marketing and customer experience delivery often require a more nuanced data strategy. This includes leveraging real-time services and data replication where necessary to meet the demands of speed, scalability, and personalization.

Marketing Technologies That Require Data Storage

Below is a list of marketing technologies that require customer data storage (and usually PII to operate). We’ve grouped them into four categories:

Customer Experience (CX)

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: By definition, you cannot run an effective CRM without customer data. CRM systems like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Microsoft Dynamics store customer information, including names, email addresses, phone numbers, and purchase history.
  • Email Marketing Platforms: Email marketing tools like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and SendGrid store email addresses and subscriber data.
  • Marketing Automation Software: Marketing automation platforms such as Marketo, Acoustic, and Eloqua store customer profiles and behavior data to automate marketing campaigns.
  • E-commerce Platforms: E-commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce store customer data, including shipping addresses and purchase history.
  • AI: Modern AI platforms can receive, model, and activate in real-time and as such they need clean, correlated, and enriched data in the moments that matter. 

Customer Management

  • Loyalty and Rewards Programs: Loyalty program software like and LoyaltyLion store customer data to manage rewards and personalized offers.
  • Customer Support and Helpdesk Software: Customer support tools like Zendesk and Freshdesk store customer information for ticketing and issue resolution.

Data Management

  • Data Management Platforms (DMPs): DMPs like Adobe Audience Manager and BlueKai store audience data, including demographic and behavioral information.
  • Customer Data Platforms (CDPs): CDPs like Tealium collect and store small amounts of customer data from various sources to create the real-time marketing view of the customer necessary for orchestration and activation across the entire ecosystem.
  • MDM platforms for data quality and mastering around the Customer Profile (Stibo, Reltio, Informatica, etc.)

Other Technologies

  • Industry-specific applications like Epic and Cerner for Healthcare EMRs, Guidewire for Insurance, Student information systems for Higher Education, and Dealer Management for Automotive. 
  • Custom applications: Many mature organizations have custom in-house tools serving some of the above functions built for specific use cases on top of myriad storage technologies, often the data is stored in custom repositories across:
    • Spreadsheets (Excel, Google Sheets, Smartsheets)
    • Databases (Redshift, Big Query, Postgres, Document DBs)
    • Operational Data Stores (RedPanda, Redis, Hazelcast, Couchbase)
    • Analytics (Snowflake, Databricks)
    • Custom file stores (S3, Azure Blob, Google Storage)

Additionally, we’ve grouped technologies that likely store PII depending on configuration:

Advertising Technology (Ad Tech)

  • Ad Servers: Ad servers like DoubleClick by Google (now Google Ad Manager) may store user data for ad targeting and reporting.
  • Location-Based Marketing Platforms: Platforms like Foursquare and Gimbal store location data to deliver location-based marketing messages.Social Media Advertising Platforms: Platforms like Facebook Ads and LinkedIn Ads store user data for targeting and remarketing purposes.
  • Mobile App Analytics and Attribution Platforms: Tools like AppsFlyer and Adjust may store data on user interactions with mobile apps.


  • Analytics and Tag Management Tools: Tools like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Adobe Launch, and Adobe Analytics may store data on user behavior and interactions with websites or apps.
  • Customer Surveys and Feedback Tools: Tools like SurveyMonkey and Typeform collect customer feedback and may store PII, depending on the survey questions.
  • Content Management Systems (CMS): CMS platforms like WordPress and Drupal may store user information for comment moderation and user accounts.

The right train of thought is to think about reducing data duplication to maximize efficiency, and performance and allow you to activate against use cases.

Use Cases Limited by “Zero-Copy”

Let’s consider the various actionable use cases not achievable with a zero-copy approach because they lack real-time enrichment: 

  • Identity Resolution Anonymous to Known
  • Insights Enrichment 
  • Personalization 
  • Consent Management (Collection and in-session enforcement)
  • Zero-Party Data 
  • Triggered Email 
  • CRM Updates for Real-Time Engagement  
  • Real-Time Advertising Suppression
  • Retargeting 
  • All Anonymous Use Cases (Display, Personalization, Social, Livechat, etc.)

It doesn’t make sense to avoid sending a small amount of data to another system when it drives so much value. The “zero-copy CDP” is a buzzword that attempts to blur the line between the warehouse-native movement and riding the coattails of a surging and successful CDP market. The data warehouse will always contain the Customer 360 Profile, but the CDP is in charge of real-time enrichment and activation. 

Having the two systems work together, is the way it’s meant to be! For more information on “zero-copy”, read our Tealium’s Take or watch our YouTube video below.

Post Author

Jay Calavas
VP of Vertical Products

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