Facebook Reaps What It Sows

Facebook dropped 20% in one day as the ongoing news about their misuse of personal data began to hit their bottom line a few weeks ago.  Here is a guerilla protest campaign in London which encapsulates their issues:

The problem at Facebook is that they forgot that they were there for their members not their advertisers.  The idea was free content (news, fake news, and social), no editorial review, and monetization of the data exhaust from their platform.

When that happened, truth and privacy became irrelevant.  They can whitewash their actions and pretend that the problems are exogenous to their company, but hiring editors is only the beginning of excising the rot that rests at the center of Facebook’s business model.


Source: Instagram images from ProtestStencil

TechTarget Scoops up Oceanos Marketing

TechTarget LogoTucked into the tail end of TechTarget’s earnings release last week was notice that they had acquired Oceanos Marketing, a contact data management company.  Both firms are based in the Boston suburbs.  Oceanos brings “data quality and data management expertise that will help us improve our offerings and deliver better results to our customers.”

Oceanos began as a list broker in 2002, but has since evolved into a B2B contact aggregator and data refinery.  The firm aggregates 97 million active US contact records (as of August 2017) and retains millions of inactive names and emails to assist with hygiene.  Data is aggregated from over a dozen vendors and includes social data from FullContact and Pipl.  Oceanos provides data enrichment, TAM analysis, net-new contacts, and a set of data specialists to assist with projects.

TechTarget manages a smaller set of 18 million subscriber profiles, 16 million of which are technology professionals.  The Oceanos acquisition should allow TechTarget to improve both the quality of their subscriber dataset and expand coverage into non-technology positions.  As technology purchase decision making has expanded beyond tech titles, Oceanos provides significant lift into other job functions.  Oceanos contacts are mapped to 12 Job Functions, 109 Sub-functions, and 7 Job Levels.

Oceanos President Brian P. Hession identified their differentiators as their unique blend of technology, professional services, and data quality. With data quality being critical to ABM sales and marketing initiatives, the inclusion of real world project fulfillment through their program specialists provides Oceanos with data quality insights that are used to continuously inform and enhance the data quality processes. “We apply both technology and real-world insights to ensure the highest quality of data before we are releasing it. We are incorporating a continuous stream of data quality insights into our code to address the many nuances that a program specialist encounters manually on a dataset,” said Hession last summer.  “The way that Oceanos is going to be successful in the future is if we can assemble an internal contact database that is of the highest quality in the industry.  So there’s been a lot of focus on putting models on top of our contact data.”

“Social data plays a role in our data hygiene process and serves as a ‘signal’ within both our Data Quality Score (DQS) and ABM Usability Score. The social information is sourced from reputable partners,” said Hession.  “Oceanos does not scrape contacts across LinkedIn or, in that vein, any social media site. All of our contact records originate from carefully selected third party data providers.”

The acquisition cost was not announced but was deemed “non-material.”  Oceanos 2017 revenue was around $5 million.

Outreach Acquires Sales Hacker

Sales Hacker and Outreach

Sales Engagement vendor Outreach acquired sales training firm Sales Hacker. The acquisition amount was not disclosed.

Sales Hacker offers sales training webinars, conferences, podcasts, and online courses. Its blog draws 150,000 unique monthly visitors, and it runs meetups in more than thirty cities. The acquisition will allow Sales Hacker to drop sponsored content, raise the quality of its content, and enjoy access to a deeper set of industry insights.

“Sales is the only profession where the score gets zeroed every few months, which means the best reps are always looking for new ways to stay fresh and attack the coming quarter,” said Outreach CEO Manny Medina. “By providing relevant, unbiased and actionable content directly from seasoned practitioners, Sales Hacker plays a key role in helping today’s reps understand the latest trends, get inside the mind of their buyer, and ensure they are not left behind.”

Sales Hackers’ eight remote employees will be retained including CEO Max Altschuler who will join Outreach as the VP of Marketing. However, Medina told GeekWire that Sales Hacker will continue as an independent company and will not provide preferential treatment to Outreach in its coverage. There will be no Outreach branding on the Sales Hacker site nor will Outreach have access to the Sales Hacker database.

“Our main impediment to growth is awareness that this [sales technology] category exists,” said Medina. “Given that we are the largest, the fastest growing, and the leader in the space, I felt like it was upon us to inject the tide that will raise all boats.”

Medina argued that his competitors will also benefit from greater category awareness, but “given that we are the biggest, we have the most funding, we are the fastest growing, it’s kind of like our responsibility to make sure that the industry continues to grow and the category continues to grow,” said Medina.

“The mission is bigger than just building a company,” said Altschuler. “It’s about building a whole new category around Sales Engagement and Revenue Efficiency. Like how Salesforce pioneered the Cloud and HubSpot pioneered Inbound.”

The deal came together at Outreach’s user conference when Altschuler, an angel investor in Outreach, sat down with Medina.

“Max has this incredible asset, and every year he needs to figure out a growth plan for it, and we have an incredible need to educate the community that sales engagement exists,” Medina said. “So we came together almost magically when we sat down to map out what our problems were, what his problems were, we realized ‘hey we have a lot of alignment here.’”

Outreach is valued at a half billion dollars following a $65 million round D in May. The firm has approximately 300 employees and plans to hire another 50 before the end of the year. It has grown from $0 to $30 million in annualized recurring revenue in three years.

“Outreach has passed the inflection point where it’s less about marketing the company and more about creating a market for the company,” said Altschuler. “Investing in Sales Hacker in this way will allow us to create a better content experience for our readers and our customers.”

Dun & Bradstreet Being Taken Private

DNB Logo
Dun & Bradstreet logos

I was going to be writing about yesterday’s #FlipMyFunnel conference keynote given by Terminus CEO Sangram Vajre this morning, but I woke up to news that Dun & Bradstreet is being taken private.  So, I’ll recap Vajre’s discussion of humanizing B2B and the need for authenticity in a later post.

Dun & Bradstreet announced that it will be taken private by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings, and funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, for $5.38 billion in cash. Shareholders will receive $145 per share, an 18% premium over its Wednesday close. The acquisition includes $1.5 billion in assumed debt.

The deal is subject to shareholder approval and is expected to close within six months.

Dun & Bradstreet has a venerable history going back 177 years.  Employees include several future nineteenth century Presidents.  The firm, however, has struggled in recent years to grow revenues, particularly in its Risk Management Solutions group.  Sales & Marketing Solutions, which makes up a bit over 40% of the company, has posted slow but steady growth.

Dun & Bradstreet has some market leading assets:

  • The D-U-N-S number is the de facto global numbering system for companies.  It is often required for loans and is necessary for bidding on US government contracts.
  • The WorldBase company file contains global linkages, Tradestyles, and credit scores for 300 million active, dormant, and defunct companies making it valuable for credit risk, supplier risk, master data management, research, client onboarding, marketing, and sales.
  • The Global Company Authority (FKA NetProspex) provides global directors, executives, and mid-level managers.
  • D&B Optimizer for Marketing delivers cloud-based data hygiene and enrichment for companies and contacts.
  • D&B Hoovers (FKA Avention) continues to improve with the addition of the WorldBase file, First Research industry overviews, and Global Company Authority file to the Sales Acceleration platform.
  • Digital delivery solutions include the D&B Direct API, connectors for CRM and Marketing Automation platforms, B2B programmatic marketing, and visitor ID (the mapping of anonymous website visitors to their firm).

The company has a strong data foundation and has been shifting delivery of its product line to the cloud, but its sales and marketing products have not had significant growth.  Instead, Dun & Bradstreet has seen companies such as DiscoverOrg, LinkedIn (Sales Navigator), TechTarget, and Zoominfo enjoy most of the growth in the Sales and Marketing Intelligence space.

Funding will be a combination of debt and equity. The deal includes a 45-day “go-shop” period during which alternative offers will be welcome.

Thomas J. Manning will continue as the CEO through the closing of the transaction while James N. Fernandez, a director of the Company since 2004 and Lead Director since February 2018, will continue as the Chairman.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the value creation opportunities available to the Company as part of a full portfolio and business assessment and exploration of strategic alternatives with multiple financial sponsors. As a result of this process, the Dun & Bradstreet Board of Directors unanimously determined that this all-cash transaction with the Investor Group is in the best interest of our shareholders and our Company,” said Manning.

William P. Foley II, Chairman of Cannae Holdings, said, “In an increasingly data-driven world, Dun & Bradstreet’s insight-driven business model and interconnectivity across industries has positioned the Company for continued success. We are excited to grow the Company, increase operating efficiencies and improve the Dun & Bradstreet customer experience by providing enhanced business solutions.”

Bombora Natively Integrates with Marketo

Bombora's intent file, which spans 4,100 B2B topics, is available in Marketo.
Bombora’s intent file, which spans 4,100 B2B topics, is available in Marketo.

Bombora partnered with Marketo to natively integrate its intent file into the Marketo Engagement Platform.  Bombora collects anonymous company-level activity from B2B media sites and determines intent as a company surge score across 4,100 B2B topics and 2.8 million companies.  The surge score indicates an uptick in baseline interest in customer-specific B2B topics.

The intent scores help identify and prioritize sales and marketing activities around prospects with active purchasing research programs. Firms with high surge scores can then be targeted for programmatic marketing, digital messaging, and sales outreach.  Surge data also flag dormant accounts which are re-entering the purchasing cycle, assist with messaging around key topics, and inform lead scoring and routing decisions.

According to Bombora, only fifteen to twenty percent of companies in a target list are engaged in an active purchase cycle.  Thus, understanding which companies are in market is critical to marketing effectiveness.  “It arms you with insight into which of your target companies are more actively researching your products or services compared to historic baselines – indicating intent to take action,” said Bombora.

“With the Marketo Engagement Platform acting as the hub to make this understanding more actionable, there is exponential value to how Bombora’s intent data can be leveraged across an organization,” stated Bombora CEO Erik Matlick.

“As a marketer, the best buyers to engage with are the ones that are already actively researching,” said Marketo SVP of Strategy and Alliances TK Kader.  “Providing intent data from Bombora to our customers creates an opportunity for them to engage with buyers who have a high propensity to buy, ultimately delivering better pipeline to sales and increasing the velocity of the sales process.”

Marketo is also offering best practices and campaign setup advice.

What Is Intent Data?

Bombora Intent Data Collection Model
Bombora Intent Data Collection Model

I am beginning a monthly series entitled What Is where I provide an overview of one of the underlying sales and marketing intelligence technologies or processes being deployed at B2B firms.  I will begin with Intent Data.

Intent Data is one of the three informational elements of B2B Lead scoring (the other two are Fit and Opportunity).  Intent data consists of both first and third-party elements and identifies when companies are actively researching specific product categories.  First-party data is captured in your marketing automation systems and web logs.  Typical first-party intent data includes

  • Web Logs
  • Webform Submissions
  • Email Clicks
  • Downloads
  • Page Views
  • Webinar Attendance
  • Trade Show Booth Visits

In short, if somebody is viewing your website, reading your collateral, meeting with you at a tradeshow booth, or attending your webinars, then he or she is displaying purchase intent.  Of course, not everybody doing so is a potential purchaser, but a high percentage of individuals digitally interacting with your firm are somewhere in the buyer’s journey for your products and services.

Unfortunately, intent data is often anonymous.  Unless the individual submits a webform, you are most likely limited to an IP address.  As B2B visitors are usually accessing your platform from a corporate IP address, it is possible to tie the IP address to the company and at least associate the activity with a company.  Companies such as DemandBase, Bombora, and Dun & Bradstreet offer Visitor Intelligence services to map IP addresses to companies.  Along with the company name, they enrich the visitor intelligence with firmographics such as location, size, and industry.

External intent data is provided by vendors such as Bombora, The Big Willow, True Influence, and TechTarget.  External intent data is gathered from B2B Media websites that evaluate topics of interest across their network and determine which topics are of interest to companies.  Interest is gauged by articles viewed, white papers downloaded, searches performed, case studies read, etc.  Generally, each company is baselined by topic with interest determined with respect to the baseline.  A surge of interest takes place when short-term interest in a topic is well above the baseline for the company.  Intent data is generally delivered as a numeric score by topic with companies licensing the topics of interest.  As intent is determined at the corporate level, it works best in lead scoring. With the exception of TechTarget, you don’t know which individuals are researching specific topics.

TechTarget Priority Engine provides technology specific intent at the individual level along with contact information, buying stage (early or late based upon content viewed and downloaded), and key influencers (companies of interest).  TechTarget is focused on Technology topics across its 140 media sites.


Additional Resources: