I am trying to understand how the Audience Builder and Contact Builder works. I went through a lot of documentation online but couldn't really find the accurate answer for the data source for these tools.

Please take a look at below questions:

Audience Builder

  1. Can custom Data Extensions be used as data sources for Audience Builder? If yes, how and where do we define the same? Can we do this without involving Salesforce Professional?
  2. What is Data Factory Utility? In our existing instance of SFMC, we have an automation configured which has ~80 Data Factory Utilities. However looking at the definitions of these Data Factory Utilities including drivers etc, we could not identify what are they responsible for.

Contact Builder

  1. What does Data sources page in Contact Builder signify? Is it only for informative purpose where we can see source of each attribute or does it have any significance elsewhere? (Ex. In Audience Builder)

1 Answer 1


Generally speaking Audience Builder and Contact Builder are two separate tools as explained well here: Did Audience Builder and Contact Builder merge?

Contact Builder just happens to be in the "Audience Builder" menu for reasons.

As to your questions.

Audience Builder

  1. Yes, custom data extensions can be used. "Audience Builder can use any lists, groups, or data extensions linked through a common subscriber key or ID. You can add attributes to Audience Builder without adding more dimensions to them. Audience Builder only supports queries performed via the expression builder." (Source)

  2. No, you need SF Professional Services for loading data (Source) - From what I was explained once, this can actually be quite a laborious mapping process.

  3. Data Factory Utilities are automated processes set up by Salesforce Professional Services (you normally cannot create / update them). (Source) What they do is they enhance the backend processing so that external databases used for features like Audience Builder, but also Einstein Engagement Scoring (running on AWS, source) or Discover reports (I think running on an Oracle DB, source is hearsay from someone at SF) can be provided with data regularly. Essentially, I understand them as ETL processes that move data from database to database. So you will typically see them appear when any such features are provisioned by Salesforce.

Contact Builder

  1. To be honest, the only usecase to my knowledge for the Data Sources menu is Marketing Cloud Connect; here you can configure the Sales Cloud Objects' synchronization with regards to which tables, fields you want to ingest as "Synchronized Data Extensions" at what intervals. In this scenario, this is definitely used for more than just informative purposes, but actual configuration. (Reference)
  • Hi Jonas Thanks for responding to the question. When you say, you can add attributes to Audience Builder, I wanted to know the process of doing so. When I select 'Manage Attributes' from Audience Builder setup page, it asks me to choose an automation. I wanted to know what this Automation is responsible for. The reason being I only have permissions to choose one default automation which consists of ~80 DFUs.
    – Kalyani
    Jan 11, 2022 at 3:51
  • To my knowledge, you have to involve SF professional services for this; Speak to your SF contacts to be sure, but from what I know, I would be surprised that you would be able to do this yourself. Jan 11, 2022 at 7:31

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