Unique Company Identifiers

Amazon Family Tree (Source: D&B Hoovers)
Amazon Family Tree (Source: D&B Hoovers)

Associating company records with a common identifier is critical for Account Based Marketing as well as other sales and marketing methodologies.  Lacking a common identifier makes it difficult to

  • De-duplicate company records
  • Associate subsidiaries and branches with headquarters
  • Perform both real-time and batch data enrichment of firmographic, technographic, and social links.
  • Associate company news and sales triggers to key accounts.
  • Tie together company records across multiple platforms.
  • Assess the risk (e.g. credit, supplier, reputational) associated with a business.

The importance of a “unique identifier” was discussed by Owler CEO Jim Fowler in the Harvard Business Review:

The best way to keep data clean is to use a globally known, unique identifier, or a “data backbone.” My company prefers to use URLs as identifiers. They’re free, globally recognizable, high-quality data points that enable you to efficiently gather information on a business’s industry, online activities, and functionality. For example, Cisco is a company that also goes by Cisco Systems, Inc. and Cisco Precision Tools. If sales containers required users to type in one unique URL, http://www.cisco.com/ for all those different branches, it’d be much more difficult to create duplicate accounts, which helps keep data clean. Perhaps more important, URLs facilitate communication between people, systems, and even departments. Whether it’s the customer relationship management platforms used by sales teams, enterprise resource planning software used by purchasing teams, or the account-based marketing technology employed by marketing teams, the business intelligence platform can recognize a unique URL and attach it to clean, usable data. Unique identifiers let you know you’re pulling from the sources and contacts you’ve intended to track.

I agree with 90% of what Fowler states, but disagree with his recommendation that URLs are the best unique identifier for his “data backbone”.  There are a number of reasons that URLs fall short:

  • URLs are not persistent.  If a company is acquired or renames itself, the old identifier (URL) is not retained.  This creates a potential disconnect between the old and new name.
  • URLs have a many-to-one mapping which treats most subsidiary and branch locations the same as the headquarters.  For some companies, mashing together all locations into a single record may be sufficient, but it is a highly flawed approach as it loses much of the nuance concerning companies that operate across multiple sectors and countries (e.g. General Electric).  It also makes it very difficult for sales reps to sell deeper into an organization which lacks linkage data.
  • Conversely, companies with multiple URLs are not tied together.  This could happen due to differing country identifiers (e.g. .UK, .FR), division names, brand names, and subsidiaries.  Each of these scenarios treats companies as a separate business.  Amazon has many distinct businesses including Amazon Web Services (aws.amazon.com), Zappos (www.zappos.com), Alexa Internet (www.alexa.com) Audible (www.audible.com), Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), and soon Whole Foods (www.wholefoods.com).  URLs do not provide a consistent data backbone when subsidiaries, acquisitions, and branches have different domains.
  • When a division or facility is divested, there is no way to determine which locations have been spun off.
  • Franchises are treated as part of the parent company when they are separate legal entities.
  • Not all companies have websites.
  • URLs can be sold.  They can also be reused if a company goes out of business or abandons a URL.

Finally, business decisions related to logistics, credit, supplier risk, and financing need to understand the underlying structure of companies.  It is not just marketing and sales that are impacted by standardizing on a non-persistent, quasi-unique identifier.

I would therefore recommend looking at credit data companies as a better source of unique identifiers.  Companies such as Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, Equifax, and Infogroup all offer location level detail and linkage associated with unique identifiers that have been developed over multiple decades.  They offer sophisticated entity matching and enrichment tools such as Dun & Bradstreet’s Optimizer service. Furthermore, these firms support multiple functions across the organization helping assist with cross-platform entity linking and on-demand decisioning.

D&B Optimizer: Global Contact Cleanse; Global Company Targeting

Custom Optimizer settings include match confidence, bad and dangerous email flagging, and technology enrichment.
Dun & BradstreetCustom Optimizer settings include match confidence, bad and dangerous email flagging, and technology enrichment.

This month, Dun & Bradstreet rolled out a pair of enhancements to their Workbench Data Optimizer product line.  The first release, which is already available, adds global contact cleanse and enrich functionality to the Optimizer module.  Additional features include URL matching, expanded attributes, and custom match settings.  The second release, with a planned release date of June 16th, provides global company targeting and an enhanced interface.

Our customers were asking for us to manage more of their data and for access to more of our data.  So, we really went for it with this release.  For one, we can now append up to 190 different data attributes.  We can also process contact records outside of the US.  We included 8x as many web domains to match to.  We added data stewardship rules to pass control to the customer.  Finally, we modernized the user experience.  If you combine all of this with the work we did to enhance our email verification process in March, it adds up to a complete solution for optimizing marketing data.

  • Director of Product Management John Zilch

Dun & Bradstreet acquired NetProspex and its Contact Optimizer product in January 2015 and has continued to invest in the offering.  The original product was already quite useful as it supported contact validation (email, phone, address), technographic enrichment (HG Data product vendor data), a freemium Data Health report, and segmentation analysis.  Post-acquisition, Dun & Bradstreet integrated WorldBase firmographics, linkage, and D-U-N-S Numbers into the product and implemented DUNSMatch logic for match and enrich.  More recently, they enhanced their Marketo and Eloqua connectors and added a Profiler module which supports advanced segmentation analysis and net-new account and contact prospecting based upon current accounts.  The most recent release continues the product evolution.

Data Insights Analysis (New UX)
Data Insights Analysis (New UX)

The Optimizer module first matches using company name, address, and phone.  If it is unable to match to specific locations, URL matching is performed as a secondary match process.  The firm has 8.3 million mapped domains.  Domain matching associates contacts and companies with D-U-N-S Numbers and associated firmographics.  However, domain matching is less accurate as it is likely to map to the ultimate parent or a major subsidiary (if the subsidiary has a separate domain).  Thus, domain matching is more generalized.  It should be noted, however, that several vendors only offer domain matching so using domains as a secondary match algorithm still provides stronger matching and enrichment than these vendors.

Domain matching is also useful when address information and phone information is not provided by leads.

Dun & Bradstreet extended the number of fields available for matching to over 170 from their SDMR “Strategic Layout.”  As the firm offers custom layouts, admins can choose which fields to map between Optimizer and their company and contact data sets.

Custom Optimizer settings include match confidence, bad and dangerous email flagging, and technology enrichment.
Custom Optimizer settings include match confidence, bad and dangerous email flagging, and technology enrichment.

Users can also employ confidence codes for matching (they recommend using match confidence levels of six or higher for the “best quality and output”) or select from turnkey file layouts.  Thus, matches based on the name (but not address) or address (but not name) are excluded.  Workbench supports native integrations with Eloqua (Oracle Cloud) and Marketo for lead matching.  Contact matching adds phone; job title, phone, and level; social handles; and firmographics.

On June 16th, the firm will begin adding net-new accounts to its Target module.  Target defaults to US companies but can also be run at the global or country level.  Coverage has been expanded to 110 million companies including 9 million UK entities.

When prospecting in Target, users are provided with four counts:

  1. Contact Records Company Type (emails)
  2. Contact Records Campaign Type (emails and phones)
  3. Company Records Firmographics
  4. Cookies and Mobile ID’s for programmatic and mobile targeting

Emails have a 90% confidence rate for deliverability.

Dun & Bradstreet Beneficial Ownership

Dun & Bradstreet unveiled a new Beneficial Ownership product to assist with client onboarding and back-book remediation of current customers.  The service helps determine who are the ultimate benefactors of each transaction.  Beneficial Ownership assists with legal compliance including Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering, Politically Exposed Persons (PEP), and sanctions lists monitoring.  Overall, there are around a dozen relevant regulations concerning beneficial ownership with different thresholds for research.  By automating these checks, which have historically required manual research teams, Dun & Bradstreet is reducing time, expense, and risk (e.g. credit, supplier, reputational) while expediting the client onboarding process.

“Compliance teams are challenged to manage third-party due diligence, Anti-Money Laundering, Know Your Customer and tax compliance regulations through manual processes that can be costly and inefficient,” said Brian Alster, Dun & Bradstreet’s Global Head of Supply and Compliance. “By harnessing Dun & Bradstreet’s verified data with D&B Beneficial Ownership, the process can be easily automated to fast-track standard onboarding, helping companies relieve compliance burdens, and get back to driving growth.”

While family trees focus on controlling interest there are numerous legal reasons to look beyond controlling interest.  These include onboarding and ongoing compliance (e.g. KYC, AML, PEP, sanctions) as well as company research relevant to conflicts of interest, supply chain risk, and vetting customers, partners, service providers, and resellers.

The new offering, which draws from the D&B WorldBase file of 265 million active and inactive company records, spans 62 countries and 71 million shareholders.  D&B Beneficial Ownership is available through batch, real-time, and online access via the D&B Direct API or D&B Onboard.   The service also delivers ownership change alerts and a visualization layer which displays a spider-web view of branches and loops of business structures.  To assist with varying global requirements, users can query at different ownership thresholds.  Both corporate and individual beneficial owners are assessed across 100 million plus connections.

With D&B Direct 2.0, API clients pass the company name which is DUNS Matched.  The API then returns a detailed list of shareholders to the desired threshold including percent of ownership and loops (i.e. cross-ownerships).

Visualization tools help contextualize shareholding and ownership relationships.
Visualization tools help contextualize shareholding and ownership relationships.

Dun & Bradstreet collects shareholdings data from registered filings (mostly in Europe), direct research teams, and licensed data.  Ownership data goes down to 0.1% ownership levels.  Other compliance data includes PEP flags,  sanctions lists (e.g. OFAC), and adverse media searches.

Beneficial Ownership intelligence is also important for companies with deep supply chains looking to prevent reputational risk and ensure a minimal level of ethical behavior amongst their subcontractors.  Last May, Dun & Bradstreet launched a Human Trafficking Risk Index tool which helps firms avoid dodgy suppliers that may be using slave labor.   The Human Trafficking Risk Index is the first in a series of “Responsible Business Analytics” products in their pipeline.

WorkBench: Profile Builder, TAM, & Look-a-Like Prospecting

Dun & Bradstreet, which has had a series of major product announcements over the past few weeks (the Avention acquisition, rebranding of its OneSource platform as D&B Hoovers, a Beneficial Ownership product), has quietly added powerful new functionality to their Workbench Data Optimizer platform.  The new Profile capability features an automated profile builder, Total Addressable Market (TAM) analysis, and look-a-like prospecting based upon the Workbench profiles.

The new functionality helps marketers evaluate the size of targetable sub-markets, identify audiences with a high propensity to purchase, discover overlooked whitespace opportunities, and target new accounts and contacts.  According to Alex Schwarm, Sr. Director of Marketing Analytics Products, “Profile enables our Workbench customers to begin to use data-driven, ABM-oriented Profiles based on their successful sales.  These automated analytics allow you to quickly and easily identify the best whitespace opportunities and characteristics of your target audiences including those with the highest propensity to buy – no data scientist needed.”

NetProspex WorkBench Value Proposition
NetProspex WorkBench Value Proposition

Profile is a black-box analytics engine which clusters customer files without biases.  Marketers upload a file of their customers’ data for a specific product or product family.  Workbench standardizes, de-duplicates, and verifies the input file; matches and enriches it with Dun & Bradstreet’s WorldBase firmographics; and then provides segmentation and file health analysis.  The Profile module identifies between two and eight distinct segments containing similar companies across multiple dimensions.  The user can define the number of profiles or the system can automatically identify the optimal number of profiles based on the variation of the customer file.  The marketer is not required to define the key segmentation variables.  Instead, the system automatically performs affinity clustering (my term) to build the segments.  Execution time is typically 5 to 10 minutes.

The results are displayed on a downloadable dashboard that provides a side-by-side firmographic analysis of the clusters.  Results include company size, ownership (e.g. parent, branch), primary industries, cluster size, and average deal size (if revenue figures are also shared with Dun & Bradstreet).  Thus, the system may identify segments with a lower average deal size but a larger number of prospects alongside clusters containing top customers with high average deal size but a small number of targetable opportunities.

Portion of Workbench Profile summary report
Portion of Workbench Profile summary report

While Dun & Bradstreet does not use the term “Ideal Customer Profile” (ICP) the system is basically identifying the attributes of a customer’s ICP, determining the average deal size, and sizing the overall market opportunity.

Dun & Bradstreet has two major assets in performing TAM analysis: The WorldBase file of global companies and trust built up over 170 years of credit research.  WorldBase provides them with a consistent, global file of 260 million active and inactive companies for credit and supplier risk research, sales intelligence, and B2B marketing.  The file includes broad global company linkages, corporate and location sizing, industry coding, Tradestyles, and D-U-N-S Numbers (the de facto global company numbering system).  This intelligence provides the core reference file against which market sizing can be performed.  But TAM analysis requires customer level revenue information against which company counts can be converted to market sizes.  And here is where a strong credit analysis brand helps build confidence amongst marketers to share company revenue data.  While they will be reluctant to share revenue details with most vendors, firms have been sharing private financial details with Dun & Bradstreet over the better part of two centuries.

Marketers can then take any of the profiles and immediately identify net-new similar companies as well as net-new contacts.  The system also sizes potential target market audiences that can be reached programmatically through their Audience Solutions group.

While prospect scoring based upon these definitions is not yet supported, that is a likely future offering for the platform.  Profile, along with a set of predictive scores and paired with D&B Hoovers’ business signals, represents a toe in the water of the predictive analytics space.

D&B NetProspex B2B Contact File Stolen

A NetProspex breach sample record for journalist Zack Whitaker (originally published by Troy Hunt with permission)
A NetProspex breach sample record for journalist Zack Whitaker (originally published by Troy Hunt with permission)

A 52.5 GB NetProspex file of nearly 34 million US business contacts was recently stolen.  Dun & Bradstreet did not indicate how the MongoDB database was purloined, but indicated it suffered no data breaches and the file was likely stolen from a customer.  “We’ve carefully evaluated the information that was shared with us and it is of a type and in a format that we deliver to customers every day. Based on our analysis, it was not accessed or exposed through a Dun & Bradstreet system,” the firm said in a statement to ZD Net.

The file was believed to be six months old.  While it was built and sold for legitimate sales and marketing purposes and complies with US law, it could be used for spamming and spear phishing.  “It’s an absolute goldmine for phishing because here you have a huge amount of useful information from which to craft attacks,” said Internet security advocate Troy Hunt who publicized the breach. “From this data, you can piece together organizational structures and tailor messaging to create an air of authenticity and that’s something that’s attractive to crooks and nation-state actors alike.”

Content includes business contact information; job titles, functions, and levels; current employer; and employer firmographics including size, industry, location, and D-U-N-S Number.  Their file does not contain personal emails, phones, biographics, or any kind of consumer credit data as Dun & Bradstreet strictly collects B2B company and contact intelligence.  However, the file does contain extensive business and government employee data such as 100,000 Department of Defense and a combined 75,000 Army, Air Force, and VA contacts.

Dun & Bradstreet should evaluate whether retaining titles for military and security agencies is in their best interest (and the country’s).  For example, being able to identify 715 military Intelligence Analysts makes it easy for nefarious parties to spearphish them.  This may be a case where losing the actual job title and simply mapping the title to a job function (e.g. procurement, security, medical, R&D) would make sense.  Another option might be to track only government officials whose name appear in official sites and publications.  As the government publishes bid data through FedBizOpps, procurement contacts would still be available for commercial purposes.

“Whilst you could piece together parts of the data from information already in the public domain, having it aggregated and so easily searchable in this fashion is enormously valuable,” said Hunt. “It also serves as a reminder that we’ve lost control of our privacy; the vast majority of people in the data set would have no idea their information is being sold in this fashion and they certainly don’t have any control over it.”

If you would like to check on whether your personal or business email information have been stolen, Hunt has setup a free site which tracks over 200 stolen databases.  Registration takes about 3 minutes (you need to validate that you are researching your own contact information).  The site will also advise you if your email appears in future breaches.

Avention Rebranded D&B Hoovers

D&B Hoovers LogoDun & Bradstreet has begun the process of monetizing its new Avention acquisition by rebranding it as D&B Hoovers.  The OneSource platform had an identity crisis  — first launched as Avention and then rebranded Avention OneSource.  Bringing the service under the Dun & Bradstreet and Hoovers branding umbrella should stabilize the brand as both are better known than Avention and OneSource.  Dun & Bradstreet has been associated with company information and credit research since the 1840s while the Hoovers brand has a thirty-seven year lineage that goes back to reference books.  Hoover’s was an early company research portal via the web and America Online and still offers a freemium site.

That Avention and Dun & Bradstreet could quickly match their large databases and begin the integration of the WorldBase file into the new Hoovers platform does not surprise me.  Both companies have strong data matching capabilities for companies and contacts.  Furthermore, the new Hoovers platform is designed to manage the integration of additional datasets into its global coverage.

Sales Acceleration Positioning

In a press release, Dun & Bradstreet described their new offering as “an innovative new Sales Acceleration solution” which helps “sales and marketing teams shorten sales cycles, increase win rates, and accelerate revenue growth.”  The new offering combines “Dun & Bradstreet’s largest commercial database with best-in-class prospect intelligence and an intuitive user experience” which goes ”beyond traditional prospecting to more quickly and efficiently engage with customers.”

Sales Acceleration vs Traditional Prospecting Chart (Source: Dun & Bradstreet)
Sales Acceleration vs Traditional Prospecting Chart (Source: Dun & Bradstreet)

Since acquiring Avention in early January, Dun & Bradstreet Sales and Marketing Solutions has focused its messaging around Sales Acceleration.  Barry Parr, Lead Analyst at information advisory service Outsell, described Sales Acceleration as follows:

B2B sales and marketing’s job is to turn information into relationships. Sales Acceleration refines information to increase the yield and improve productivity, by making the information more current, connecting it with buying signals, and providing relevant context. This market is evolving quickly from static company and contact data into information enhanced by software and technology.

On his Q4 earnings call last month, Dun & Bradstreet CEO Bob Carrigan picked up on the theme of Sales Acceleration which had not been used on the previous earnings call.

“Now, when we talk about sales acceleration, we mean helping companies advance relationships from prospects to paying customers by using data to give them insights into who to talk to, when to talk to them, and what to talk to them about,” said Carrigan in February.  “The market for sales acceleration is substantial. Outsell, the preeminent research firm covering the information industry, pegs the market size at about $10 billion worldwide, and it is fragmented and underserved. Given our data advantage, we are the best positioned to capture market share and grow faster than the overall market. So our aspiration is much bigger than creating a better prospecting tool by rebuilding Hoover’s. We are the market leader in sales acceleration now, and we have all the capabilities to substantially expand that lead.”

D&B Hoover’s Capabilities

Along with rich company profiles, the new Hoovers provides access to more than seventy million global contacts.  The press release highlighted the following key capabilities:

  • Target intelligently: SmartLists® dynamically update sellers on top opportunities, business intelligence and analytics, and enable account scoring; and more than 175 search filters create precise targeting while supporting natural-language and conceptual search.
  • Enhance sales productivity: CRM QuickView provides seamless access to account intelligence; desktop dashboards and automated workflow features include triggers, alerts, Ideal Profiles®, and Conceptual Search®; and mobile-ready features support sales and marketing teams on the go.
  • Enable informed conversations: Business Signals® deliver predictive insights based on the deepest and broadest global data coverage; intelligent data is integrated into strategic technology platforms like CRM and marketing automation systems; and real-time triggers keep sellers posted on key business events.
The D&B Hoovers Company Profile for Xerox
The D&B Hoovers Company Profile for Xerox

Legacy Avention OneSource customers will continue to receive their currently licensed content and feature bundles.  However, they will immediately benefit from the company and contact data quality and coverage improvements.

“Businesses of all sizes have the opportunity to grow by better leveraging today’s enhanced software and technology to more quickly drive pipeline, and garner marketing ROI,” said Dun & Bradstreet CMO Rishi Dave. “D&B Hoovers is the best solution for enabling sales and marketing teams to align around the same connected, dynamic data and analytics to make their efforts more impactful, and help them go to market and close deals at a faster rate.”

Pricing & Packaging

The packaging model appears to be a hybrid of previous Hoovers and Avention packaging.  The service is being split into three product tiers with all having access to the global database:

  • D&B Hoovers offers companies and contacts along with sophisticated prospecting against 175 variables, Conceptual Search, SmartLists, competitors, peers, news, and trigger events.
  • D&B Hoovers – Advantage adds additional features to the base edition by including global family trees, CRM/MAP integrations, SWOT reports, quoted and European private company financials, SEC filings, and administrative dashboards.  The Technology Crush reports (FKA SalesQuest Crush) are available as a premium.
  • D&B Hoovers – Premium adds additional features to Advantage edition including Ideal Profiles and Business Signals.

All users will have access to the full Global Contact Authority file of executive names, titles, and bios.  However, there is a premium “Business Contacts” dataset containing emails and direct dial phones.

Pricing is on a named-user basis dependent upon the purchased edition.  Volume based discounts are provided as the number of seats increase. For example, a mid-sized company with forty sales reps can expect to pay approximately $62 per seat/month to $114 per seat/month depending on the package purchased (and before any annual or multi-year discounts are applied).

Whereas legacy Hoover’s strength was in meeting the sales intelligence and research needs of small and midsized companies, D&B Hoover’s pricing and packaging is intended to support companies of all sizes.  “The flexibility of the new packaging model is designed to support both the growth needs of emerging businesses as well as the requirements desired by enterprise organizations while providing the pricing flexibility to meet their various budgets,” said Director of Product Marketing Sean Crowley.

The new Hoover’s benefits from access to the Dun & Bradstreet datasets, some of which has already been integrated into the new platform.  The WorldBase file provides D-U-N-S Numbers, global company linkages, Tradestyles, and additional firmographics.  The Global Contact Authority provides additional global contacts, emails, and direct dial phones.

With this first release, the new Hoovers platform contains an additional six million marketable company records, expanded global linkage, D-U-N-S Numbering, and Dun & Bradstreet firmographics (e.g. addresses, sizing data, contact information, industry coding, bank names, Tradestyles, and geocoding).

For the first time, D-U-N-S Numbers and D-U-N-S Number company lookups are available to the Avention customer base.  D-U-N-S Numbers are the de facto global numbering system.  They are often required by banks and US government agencies.  Firms also employ D-U-N-S Numbers as part of their master data management strategies.  Having D-U-N-S Numbers tied to the D&B Hoovers service allows developers to build custom calls to the D&B Direct API to obtain non-Hoover’s content such as credit and supplier risk reports.

Other Dun & Bradstreet content such as Hoovers top company profiles, competitors lists, and First Research industry overviews will be available in the future.  The firm is also planning on expanded WorldBase coverage, additional WorldBase fields, and supplementary Dun & Bradstreet business signals.

Although D&B Hoovers is being initially pitched for the US, UK, and Ireland, the service is available globally.  The emphasis on those three markets was simply one of sales enablement.  The UK and Ireland are an important opportunity for Dun & Bradstreet as the legacy Hoovers service had little traction in those markets due to the lack of registered data from Companies House (UK) and Companies Registration Office (UK).  The new D&B Hoovers provides full financials for companies across a dozen European countries including the UK and Ireland (available in Hoover’s Advantage and Premium editions).  The platform also supports company details matched to UK registered data including trading addresses, additional contacts and emails, and corporate phone numbers.

D&B Hoovers is planning a financial add-on service which includes analyst reports (Investext brokerage house reports), the industry research module (MarketLine, Freedonia, RMA), and UK registered company intelligence including Directors and Shareholders reports; Mortgages, Charges, & County Court Judgments; and Companies House Images.

Dun & Bradstreet is offering a thirty-day free trial.

Note: Avention OneSource is one of the products covered in my new book “2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors

News Alert: Dun & Bradstreet Acquires Avention

DNB acquires Avention.PNG

Dun & Bradstreet ($DNB) announced the acquisition of Avention after the markets closed today.  The acquisition came almost on the two year anniversary of Dun & Bradstreet’s successful acquisition of NetProspex.

Avention was acquired for $150 million net of cash assumed.  Avention generated $60 million in 2016 revenue.

“We are excited to combine our world-class company and contact data with Avention’s best-in-class technology that is fully integrated with the leading software platforms utilized by B2B sales professionals and marketers,” said Dun & Bradstreet COO Josh Peirez. “Avention is a natural fit that will allow us to deliver tremendous value to customers, and the synergies we can capture put the value of this deal well above the purchase price of the acquisition.”

Dun & Bradstreet combined with Avention functionality offers the potential for a powerful sales intelligence service with strong marketing capabilities.  Both Dun & Bradstreet and Avention have been expanding their marketing capabilities and ABM messaging.

Dun and Bradstreet content assets include

  • 265 million active and inactive global companies
  • D-U-N-S Numbers
  • Global Linkage
  • NetProspex executive file with emails and direct dials
  • Hoover’s editorially-written profiles
  • First Research industry overviews

Dun & Bradstreet emphasized the following Avention capabilities:

  • An intuitive, dynamic user interface to deliver intelligence that can be customized to meet each user’s needs.
  • Powerful alerts, triggers, and profiling capabilities that leverage both structured data (e.g. industry codes, address, and employee information) and unstructured data (e.g. social content, news feeds, and analyst reports).
  • Simple integration with the mission-critical systems that your teams use every day, including SFDC, Dynamics, Marketo, and Eloqua, as well as homegrown systems used by many companies.

Combined, Hoover’s, NetProspex, Avention, and D&B alliance products generated over $200 million in revenue.  The acquisition provides Dun & Bradstreet with a leading sales intelligence platform as well as several legacy products:

  • Avention OneSource: Sales Intelligence with advanced company research tools and a light predictive analytics capability.  Distinguishing features include Conceptual Search, Business Signals, Ideal Profile Scores, Sales Triggers, and Smart Lists.  The OneSource platform supports CRM connectors for Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Oracle Cloud for Sales as well as marketing automation connectors for Marketo and Eloqua (Oracle Marketing Cloud).
  • Avention DataVision: DataVision, launched in 2016, supports data enrichment, segmentation, look-a-like prospecting, and TAM analysis.
  • iSell: A legacy sales product
  • Global Business Browser: A legacy company research product
  • OneSource Open Connector: API

Dun & Bradstreet offers an overlapping set of products that will need to be rationalized following the acquisition.  Hoover’s is a direct competitor of OneSource and iSell.  While it has a lower price point than these offerings, it has been struggling for several years with declining revenue and limited investment.  As such, Hoover’s is unlikely to see significant investment in the near-term as Dun & Bradstreet moves to integrate the D&B WorldBase company and contact file, NetProspex contacts, and First Research industry overviews into Avention.  Hoover’s also maintains 42,000 editorially written company profiles which would also add value to the Avention Global Content Live Platform.

NetProspex’ Workbench service offers many features similar to DataVision.  Workbench has an advantage in data matching logic and data verification tools (e.g. phone, email, and address verification), but it is likely that the Avention company universe will be quickly D-U-N-S Numbered and that DUNSMatch logic will be incorporated into Avention services.  As such, it is unclear whether Workbench or DataVision would be the long-term hygiene front-end for Dun & Bradstreet.

“Dun & Bradstreet is uniquely positioned to serve this growing market with its foundational company and contact data, which will soon be delivered through Avention’s best-in-class software offerings,” stated Dun & Bradstreet in a press release.  “The combination provides a tremendous opportunity to evolve Dun & Bradstreet’s Traditional Prospecting offerings into a category that serves critical B2B sales and marketing needs.

“The Sales Acceleration space offers a big opportunity for Dun & Bradstreet. We believe as the global leader in commercial information we are well positioned to take market share and accelerate our growth strategy,” said Dun & Bradstreet CEO Bob Carrigan. “Bolstered by the success of our recent M&A activity, which has exceeded its acquisition economics, we will continue to explore smart, tuck-in acquisitions that, combined with disciplined execution, will help us to further expand our leadership in this category as well as other areas of our business.”

One potential area of conflict may be around Data.com.  Dun & Bradstreet provides their WorldBase file to Data.com Prospector and does not offer a D&B360 Salesforce.com connector.  However, Avention has a robust AppExchange connector which competes against both Data.com Prospector and Data.com Clean.