NetLine Buyer-Level Intent

NetLine unveiled its new buyer-level intent solution Intent Discovery.  Intent Discovery identifies both the individual buying committee member and the buyer journey status.  Intent data is gathered from interactions with NetLine’s 12,000 gated content assets from opted-in researchers who are fully permissioned.  NetLine describes Intent Discovery as an “always-on monitor” of business research.  Research activity is “mined on a real-time basis, and intercepted once a buyer has met or exceeded each element required to define intent.”  

Once prospect activity has been qualified for both active intent and firmographic fit, Intent Discovery asks a set of customer-specific questions that further qualify intent and deliver bespoke insights about the prospect and the individual researcher.  These insights are then available to sales reps, allowing them to target their messaging to an audience of one.

All content is vendor agnostic, increasing response quality. “Sans branding, the buyer is more likely to truthfully respond.  Minus the influence of a brand, and its market perception, B2B buyers are statistically more likely to find trust in the questions and their reason for being asked,” stated NetLine.

Preliminary data from their pilot indicates a 70% increase in participant’s “ability to accelerate account’s conversion to net-new opportunities.”

“Historically, if Marketers wanted to glean true intent insights from their prospects, they had to rely on a mix of their own content initiatives and faceless display advertising campaigns focused on targeting anonymous third-party cookies.  With Intent Discovery, Marketers now have access to dramatic first-party scale beyond their own content, enabling them to accelerate the sales process.”

NetLine CEO Robert Alvin

“With this product, we’ve effectively delivered the last mile of B2B Intent: Who is actually expressing intent.  First-party sourced buyer-level intent is the Holy Grail of sales acceleration,” said Chief Strategy Officer David Fortino. “Marketers are finally able to capture in-market and intent-rich dialogue directly from their prospects on a fully-permissioned basis at scale.  Far too many vendors are delivering account-level insights and guessing at the “who” behind the behavior.  We’re not in the business of guessing; it’s time for marketing and sales to understand the who — the person instead of the persona and that’s what we’re delivering on.”

TechTarget Acquires ESG

TechTarget continues to build out its technology content set with the acquisition of Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), “a leading provider of decision-support content based on user research and market analysis for global enterprise technology companies.”  ESG has twenty-seven researchers and analysts who cover Cloud Services & Orchestration; Converged Infrastructure; Cybersecurity; Data Platforms, Analytics & A.I.; Data Protection; Digital Workspace; Networking; and Storage.

TechTarget called ESG a “natural complement and extension” of its value prop.  It expands TechTarget’s “decision support content” and provides it with “new fact-based, research-driven content” for sales and marketing outreach “identified by purchase intent insights.”  ESG’s segment expertise and analysis support technology purchase decisioning that extends TechTarget’s value beyond its 140+ technology research websites.

ESG works with its customers to develop custom content, including technical validation, economic analyses, and bespoke end-user research that “enables the creation of highly actionable, extremely useful, interactive content deliverables and tools.” Content types include white papers, videos, infographics, dynamic content (HTML 5), online event support, and social media support.

Clients commonly use ESG content to support product launches, competitive positioning, channel enablement, and ABM-focused outreach.  Thus, TechTarget’s websites identify who is currently in-market for specific solution types, and ESG’s custom content delivers mid-funnel tools to assist with messaging across the demand unit.

“ESG delivers highly relevant, purchase cycle-focused content specifically built to support buying and selling. As such it helps fill critical gaps that have long increased costs and cycle times on both sides of the process.  Adding depth to and building on TechTarget’s existing strengths in content, process support, and data creates clear, easily accessed value for both clients and end-users.”

ESG Founder Steve Duplessie

The ESG acquisition is TechTarget’s third over the past year.  In December, TechTarget closed on its $150 million BrightTALK purchase that provided it with event marketing and event-related intent signals.  In March, TechTarget tucked in Data Science Central, a digital publisher that focuses on data science and business analytics.

“We’re super excited about the value ESG provides to our clients and our members,” said Michael Cotoia, Chief Executive Officer, TechTarget. “Together, we can provide enterprise technology buyers much richer information support across their buyer’s journeys.  For our clients, adding ESG to the unmatched intent data and services we’ve long-provided means we can further increase their productivity gains and business yields end-to-end across go-to-markets.”

The acquisition price was not disclosed.  Both firms operate in the Boston suburbs. The BrightTALK acquisition closed on December 23rd.

2020 Sales & Marketing Trends

With the pandemic and recession, the sales intelligence and B2B data space held up well.  Most of the vendors I speak with indicate an increasing demand for sales and marketing intelligence and B2B DaaS offerings.  In January and February, I’ll be reporting on those numbers.

As part of my annual trends analysis, I put together a list of the top events and trends in our space this year:

  1. COVID: Sales & Marketing Intelligence continued to grow during the pandemic as sales and marketing needed to pivot to new verticals, reach the buying team working from home, and double down on segments that benefited from or had limited impact from the pandemic.
  2. Zoominfo: $ZI had a very successful June IPO and acquired Clickagy (intent) and Everstring (firmographics).
  3. Dun & Bradstreet: $DNB was taken public 18 months after being taken private.  The firm has regained some swagger through acquisitions.  They began the year with Orb Intelligence (firmographics) and closed it with Bisnode (Central European partner).  Dun & Bradstreet also launched several new B2B S&M offerings (D&B Intent, D&B Connect, D&B ABM, D&B Analytics) and expanded its contact acquisition process with the Outlook-based D&B Email IQ.
  4. Intent Data: Intent data has become the hottest content set in the B2B space as firms move to integrate multiple categories of intent within sales and marketing workflows.  Zoominfo, Dun & Bradstreet, and TechTarget all enhanced or announced integrated intent data offerings with custom models.  TechTarget’s acquisition of BrightTALK and Spiceworks Ziff Davis of Aberdeen are also partially motivated by intent datasets.
  5. European Vendors: The European market is growing rapidly, with UK vendors extending their services across the EU (e.g., Global Database, Rhetorik) and Continental vendors entering the UK (e.g., Echobot, Vainu).
  6. Consolidation: Market consolidation stalled in H1, but by Q4, there were weekly M&A announcements with several other deals rumored to be in the works in Q1.
  7. Data Privacy: CCPA was implemented in California, and the EU Court of Justice struck down the EU-US Safe Harbor (Privacy Shield) agreement, forcing companies to restrict EU data flows into the US.
  8. Spiceworks Ziff Davis: SWZD acquired Aberdeen, positioning it as a competitor in both intent data and technographics.  Spiceworks Ziff Davis has the potential to copy TechTarget’s model.

My Trends Analysis runs over 100 slides. It includes a 90-minute phone consult and is available for purchase.

TechTarget Acquires BrightTALK

Technology purchase intent data vendor TechTarget added another arrow to its intent quiver with the acquisition of BrightTALK, a leader in the marketing and virtual events space.  BrightTALK said virtual event attendance has “high predictive value because IT buyers are making a material investment of their time to engage with vendor-produced content.”

The acquisition increases TechTarget’s universe of opted-in professionals.  TechTarget already has over twenty million opted-in business contact records (mostly in technology positions from its 140 enterprise technology sites), and BrightTALK has eight million registered attendees on its media platform.  There is likely to be some overlap in names, but having a second source of opted-in professionals increases the scope of measured intent across TechTarget, BrightTALK, and corporate websites (a KickFire OEM deal).

The acquisition offers substantial cross-selling opportunities in 2021 as vendors continue to focus on virtual events in lieu of face-to-face trade shows and conferences.  Furthermore, “BrightTALK generates a large volume of valuable content in webinar and video format that is incremental to TechTarget’s current offerings.  This content improves TechTarget’s potential ability to attract new users and diversifies the content available via TechTarget’s portfolio of web sites.”

And because both platforms are opted-in, the intent data does not need to be anonymized.  TechTarget can deliver person-level intent data that includes contact information, articles read, webinar sessions viewed, potential competitors, and their stage in the buyer’s journey.  What’s more, these rich intent datasets are GDPR-compliant across both platforms.

“TechTarget’s leadership position in the market is further strengthened by the acquisition of BrightTALK. This acquisition checks all the boxes. It allows us to increase our original content, grow our opt-in audience of registered members, and add a material amount of proprietary first-party purchase intent data. It’s a very powerful combination that will enhance our customers’ abilities to use our purchase intent data to grow their revenues and increase their market share.”

TechTarget CEO Michael Cotoia

“We are excited to join forces with TechTarget. They are the leading provider of original expert content and distributor of vendor decision-support content in the B2B tech market, which has allowed them to develop the preeminent first-party purchase intent offering,” said BrightTALK CEO Paul Heald. “Combining our leading platform for online IT events is a winning combination.”

BrightTALK has over 1,000 customers who created 25,000 webinars and videos over the past year.  The platform generates over 200,000 unique monthly viewers and six million annual content engagements.

BrightTALK also fits with TechTarget’s financial objectives.  It is on track for $50 million in 2020 revenue, with approximately half this revenue under long-term contracts.  TechTarget hit 35% in subscription revenue last quarter but has stated a 50% subscription revenue goal.  With Priority Engine on track for approximately $50 million in 2020 subscription revenue and BrightTALK posting roughly $25 million, the combined pro forma company would generate $75 million in subscription revenues on $195 million in 2020 revenue (Q3 YTD + mid-point Q4 guidance + $50M BrightTALK estimate), or approximately 38 – 39% in contract-based revenue.

BrightTALK has also done well during the pandemic, with revenue on track to grow 30% this year.  It added one million additional opted-in professionals over the past year.

The deal is priced at $150 million, a 3X multiple over projected 2020 earnings.  The cash transaction will close before the end of the year.

BrightTALK has four offices in the US, two in the UK, and two in APAC (Sydney and Singapore).  LinkedIn lists them with 275 employees, a headcount growth of 15% over the past year.

Intent data is the hottest category in B2B data. There have been a series of acquisitions in the space over the past month as vendors look to acquire and integrate data sources. Recent transactions include Zoominfo’s acquisition of Clickagy and Spiceworks Ziff Davis’ purchase of Aberdeen. We have also seen the launch of next generation intent solutions such as D&B Intent and Zoominfo Streaming Intent. Bombora has been working with its partners to launch integrated workflow solutions.

Spiceworks Ziff Davis Acquires Aberdeen

Spiceworks Ziff Davis (SWZD) acquired intent and technology intelligence vendor Aberdeen.  The acquisition brings together intent data from Spiceworks and The Big Willow, Aberdeen and SWZD market research, Aberdeen’s technology profiles (the old HHMI / Access CI datasets), and Ziff Davis B2B media sites.  

SWZD describes itself as “the trusted global marketplace for connecting technology buyers and sellers across all marketing channels and the leader in demand generation and integrated intelligence-driven marketing, connecting technology buyers and sellers across IT, marketing, HR, and finance.  SWZD has a massive reach into the entire buyer’s collective with a monthly audience of 71.5M across powerhouse IT brands.”

Aberdeen will be managed as a wholly-owned subsidiary of SWZD, but initially operate independently.  Along with third-party intent, Aberdeen adds a library of industry intelligence, technographic and firmographic data, and a demand generation call center.  

The union positions SWZD as a credible competitor to Zoominfo and TechTarget in the B2B technology intent space, helping customers identify “businesses that are truly in-market for their product.”  Unlike the two larger technology sales intelligence vendors, SWZD does not offer a sales intelligence platform.

“We give our clients actionable visibility into the businesses that are truly in-market for their products and unparalleled access to quality, scale, and diversity of B2B tech intent data to make meaningful connections with those buyers.  With the union of businesses, we immediately married our data and boosted our intelligence, resulting in a 15% increase in businesses, 70% increase in segment scale, 30% richer intent data, and expansion into fifteen new verticals.”

Richard Jalichandra, EVP and Global GM of SWZD

Continued Jalichandra, “We’re just starting to explore opportunities to further enhance our business-level data and invest in our combined product roadmap.”  

Jalichandra also identified “synergies around research,” a core function at both firms.  Aberdeen offers a “rich library of data-backed reports,” while SWZD offers custom market research.

The combined resources deliver account-level insights across 14 million companies and 24 million contacts.  Over 11 billion intent signals are collected monthly from over 10,000 B2B websites.  Intent data is available for over fifty technology segments.

The merger improves the depth of B2B intent data, expands the scope of account and contact intelligence, and grows their market research capabilities.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to expand the reach and identity of Aberdeen as a subsidiary of SWZD to put customers in even closer contact with the very buyers and influencers they’re targeting,” said Aberdeen CTO Mark DePalma.  “Through the power of our combined data sets, vertically integrated demand generation capabilities, and continued innovation in our technology and services, we help customers with unparalleled targeting and marketing outcomes.”

SWZD’s Intelligent ABM delivers “actionable intent signals,” target account list prioritization, data appends, look-a-like expansion, built-in campaign activation, purchase intent scores, campaign analytics, and “seamless integration with marketing automation platforms.”

“With the combination of SWZD’s first-party intent data and Aberdeen’s third-party intent data, you get greater visibility into the entire buying collective. Not just that, our intent signals captured on the basis of the actions our audience takes; whether it is troubleshooting tech issues, comparing product reviews, connecting with an expert or accessing strategic content, provides an incredible quality and diversity of data right from the boardroom to the server room.”

Spiceworks Ziff Davis Website

SWZD offers a set of technology marketing services, including

  • Direct and programmatic advertising
  • Email marketing and newsletter sponsorships
  • Content marketing (e.g., whitepapers, e-books, infographics, case studies, interactive content, custom video, and market research)
  • Lead generation (e.g., content syndication, BANT qualified leads, intent-based leads)
  • Market research (e.g., online surveys, focus groups, in-depth interviews)
  • Virtual events (e.g., webinars, video meetups, panel discussions)

Financial details were not disclosed.

TechTarget Q3 2020 Earnings

After a weak second quarter, TechTarget’s revenue rebounded in Q3, rising 7% to $36.2 million (it was 1% in Q2).  Year-to-date revenue hit $102.5 million, up 4.5%.  Long-term revenues, which are primarily subscription contracts to Priority Engine, represented 35% of revenue, the same percentage as Q3 2019.  International sales are up 30%, with strength in both lead-gen services and Priority Engine.

Priority Engine revenue grew 4% during the quarter, with growth slowed by weakness at “smaller customers hesitant to commit to yearlong subscriptions to new products and services.”

TechTarget continues to invest in Priority Engine, releasing a significant upgrade in September that supported prospect-level intent and an improved Salesforce.com integration.  With the release, they initiated a “double-digit price increase” that has been accepted by the market. “We have not had pushback on the pricing so far,” said CEO Mike Cotoia. “So we see that as a positive sign going into 2021.”

Priority Engine’s “early usage is encouraging,” with page views up 80% since January; furthermore, “portal interactions by users that self-identify as salespeople are up over 40% since we released the new sales-friendly version.”

Cotoia called the release the most significant since Priority Engine’s launch.  Unlike previous releases that focused on the marketing function, the latest enhancements were centered around UI enhancements and the sales use case.  Combining account-level intent with prospect-level intent is “really enabling and empowering” sales teams, helping them “rank and prioritize within their own territories.”  Reps now have access to two views: a territory account report and an active prospects report.

Sales reps can now discover intent data and insights for active accounts and prospects within a Visualforce tab in Salesforce.  If a contact isn’t in Salesforce, they can quickly add the contact.

“Building a cohesive and easy-to-use workflow for both marketing and sales has always been in our roadmap,” summed up Cotoia. “The September release has been really, really impactful.”

TechTarget will focus on “leveraging our customer’s first-party data along with our data.  We have other key engagement opt-ins that we are going to be integrating into this as well.”

TechTarget also saw weakness in the large legacy IT vendors, though it was above Q2 numbers, and they anticipate growth in their Global 10 in Q4.  TechTarget has been diversifying its customer base, with the Global 10 accounting for 20% of its customer base, down from 40% a decade ago.

TechTarget anticipates that the shift from event sponsorships to online lead generation will persist after the pandemic.  

“We believe that much of this shift will become permanent as we do not believe the face-to-face business will return to its previous spend levels pre-COVID,” said Cotoia. “This is showing up mostly in our International numbers as those markets had significantly more events as part of their budget mix than in North America.  Today, most of those deals are short term, mirroring the event buy.  The opportunity that we are focused on here is to migrate those budgets from face-to-face to intent-based lead generation and then graduate those customers to annual Priority Engine subscriptions. We believe this is achievable as the vast majority of our customers have a strategic initiative to use data to make their sales and marketing organizations more intelligent, efficient, and effective.”

Customers are focusing on their digital strategy, and TechTarget offers content syndication, content marketing, lead generation, and Priority Engine.  All of these digital offerings help tech firms “get in front of their prospects and their existing customers.”

“Even if it starts with lead-generation and content marketing offerings integrated with some of the brand solutions, at the end of the day, our customers are really focused on leveraging the right intent throughout their marketing and sales cycles when they’re in market,” said Cotoia.  

These lead-gen campaigns provide a beachhead for upgrading to subscription services. “Priority Engine plays a really good place in that as we start transitioning folks from events to content syndication from content syndication to integrated online solution from integrated online intent-driven solutions to Priority Engine integrated campaigns,” said Cotoia. “I think this plays well for us in the long-term.”

“Let’s unpack what we are seeing and what we’ve learned from the pandemic.  First, IT spending is no longer a discretionary item for most companies. They see digital transformation as a necessary investment to remain competitive. This dynamic has benefitted our customers. Second, the migration of IT spending to a subscription model has built in significant resilience and predictability to most of our customer’s business models, which in turn has kept their spending levels on sales and marketing fairly stable as compared to more volatility in past downturns.”

TechTarget CEO Michael Cotoia

Cotoia credited the shift to subscription revenue as a significant contributor to its success during the pandemic. “We are very pleased at how our business has performed during the pandemic. It reinforces that the changes we made to transition our business to a data subscription business is paying off in terms of building a stronger company with a more sticky and predictable revenue stream.”

TechTarget announced Q4 guidance between $42 and $43 million, almost 20% growth year-over-year.  Some of this growth is the transition from events to online, but some is “pent-up budget” from event marketing that has been held in reserve.

“They have end-of-the-year budget, [and] they want to use it,” said Cotoia.  “TechTarget is viewed as a trusted resource.”

Cotoia was asked about ZoomInfo’s acquisition of Clickagy but wasn’t overly concerned about the real-time intent solution, saying that Zoominfo simply acquired its supplier.  Cotoia called it a “smart move,” but not one that significantly changes its offering.  He also applauded Zoominfo’s contact quality, then pivoted to the differences between their services with opted-in reader intent derived from their media sites.

“What we have is what we call real and observed first-party purchase intent.  You have to start with investing in content.  We are 100% focused on the enterprise IT market.  We have the right engagements coming in.  What we know [is] which people are looking at which vendor content or which editorial content or peer-to-peer content, or were doing a search on a very specific technology segment within a very specific region.  That’s real.  It’s very difficult to leverage things like third-party cookies or bidstream data…[with] a lot of questions about that.  It’s only at the account-level.”

Cotoia said that TechTarget’s approach is “very transparent” in its practices, focusing on the “right” engagement and intent signals. “We’re the largest place on the web where enterprise IT vendors publish their content through their marketing efforts.”  TechTarget generates this content across 146 enterprise IT community websites and can tell its Priority Engine customers which articles were read, which white papers were downloaded, which webcasts were viewed, which terms were searched, which competitors are being evaluated, and by whom.  Owned media sites with opted-in readers deliver “real and observed intent and engagement signals that will help power and transition our customers’ sales and marketing efforts” that are data-driven. What’s more, TechTarget’s intent surfaces opportunities at the beginning of the buyer’s journey.

ZoomInfo Launches Streaming Intent Based on Clickagy Acquisition

Last week, ZoomInfo picked up its most recent tuck-in, Clickagy, to expand its intent data capabilities. The real-time intent vendor is the basis for ZoomInfo’s new Streaming Intent offering.

Streaming Intent improves the timing and messaging around sales and marketing workflows such as

  • Prioritizing sales outreach to companies that are ready to buy
  • Interacting with prospects earlier in the buyer’s journey to build trust that won’t be present with later stage vendors
  • Triggering automated campaigns that warm-up prospects for your Sales team to call

Streaming Intent delivers real-time behavioral intent data that is “expansive and customizable.”  The Clickagy platform employs an NLP engine that identifies behavioral context in real-time.  Intent data is gathered from over 300,000 publisher domains and includes six trillion-plus new keyword-to-device pairings each month.  Intent data is sourced from over 91 percent of accessible devices in the United States.

Clickagy supports thousands of B2B topics and sub-topics spanning marketing, natural resources, entertainment, business services, government, healthcare, retail goods, and science and technology.

“Innovation in the B2B intent landscape has lagged behind the business-to-consumer landscape for much of the past decade.  Most B2B intent solutions today rely on the same set of underlying data generated by limited media cooperators and third-party cookie tracking.  Existing offerings only provide weekly batches of buyer intent on a finite number of topics because of heavy data processing that takes days to complete, negating opportunities to reach buyers at the opportune moment.  Other solutions offer late-stage intent, where vendors have already been identified, and it is too late for the addition of competing solutions.”

“ZoomInfo: Acquires Clickagy to Deliver Streaming Intent Data,” ZoomInfo Press Release, October 15, 2020.

Clickagy was founded in 2013 and based in Atlanta.  Clickagy CEO Harry Maugans has been named a VP of Product Management.

“Robust business data has always been the biggest hurdle keeping us from offering a transformative B2B product,” said Maugans.  “But now with ZoomInfo, we’re giving sellers and marketers the ability to further propel their go-to-market motions more effectively and efficiently.”

Actionability and usability have been significant issues that slowed the adoption and hampered the ROI of intent data.  Shuck laid out his vision of how Clickagy intent, tied to ZoomInfo company and contact data, will create significant customer value:

“The B2B world has been largely behind the B2C world with respect to using intent to activate go-to-market motions.  The primary reason for this lag is that B2B Intent offerings were never connected to the companies and the professionals at those companies in a way that would allow seamless activation.  By combining Clickagy’s powerful Intent with ZoomInfo’s robust database of companies and professionals, we unlock the power of intent for every B2B Go-to-Market organization…

Soon, go-to-market organizations will be able to build workflows that tell them instantly when Fintech companies in California, who have Snowflake in their tech stack, at least 100 employees, and $50M in funding, begin spiking on research for “cloud data platforms”.  That signal can simultaneously kick-off a workflow that captures the Vice Presidents, Directors, Managers, and other key stakeholders at those Fintech companies, check for open opportunities in CRM, and begin marketing automation, sales automation, and CRM campaigns against those decision makers…

Said another way, our customers will be able to create behavioral filters and overlay them across live web traffic, capture highly-refined intent signals in real time, and make them actionable within seconds.  This lets them engage prospects while they’re still in the research mode with a buying mentality—not weeks later when they’ve moved on to something else, or worse, after they’ve already made their decision.

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Shuck, “Why ZoomInfo is Acquiring Clickagy”

Intent data becomes more valuable when it can cast a wide net, gather and interpret signals with a high level of precision, and promptly deliver these signals.  It is in these dimensions that ZoomInfo has confidence in the breadth and heuristics of its acquisition.

Clickagy opens up the “black box” of intent data rules, offering a “robust and configurable technology that unlocks those algorithms and enables administrators to adjust the logical rules, keywords, inclusions, exclusions, and thresholds used to determine when a company is indeed exhibiting intent for a particular keyword or topic in order to reduce false positives.”  Transparency and configurability provide “unprecedented control” over the quality of intent signals.

Compliance

ZoomInfo Intent complies with privacy rules.  Clickagy does not collect any personally identifiable information.  Information is collected in the aggregate at the account level.  Instead of revealing who is conducting the research, Zoominfo identifies “functional decision-makers” at the account who are likely involved in purchasing decisions related to the intent signal.

Clickagy does not use cookies but instead relies on “privacy clusters” that are “persistent micro-groupings” of approximately 3 to 8 individuals who are “mathematically bound together to act as a single, trackable and targetable entity.”  As no PII is gathered, privacy clusters are consistent with GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and COPPA.  According to Clickagy, “As they’re not privacy invasive on a 1-to-1 level, Privacy Clusters do not require notice or opt-in consent for tracking.  Privacy Clusters allow brands to maintain the advertising efficacy they are used to while maintaining compliance with constantly changing worldwide privacy legislation.”

Clickagy also offers audience targeting and activation across 300 DMPs and DSPs.  ZoomInfo already supports website visitor intelligence.

Deal terms were not disclosed.  ZoomInfo said the deal would have a non-material impact on their fourth-quarter financial results.  

No company size data was provided, but LinkedIn lists 26 employees at Clickagy.

ZoomInfo Acquires Clickagy

Sales and Marketing Intelligence vendor ZoomInfo acquired real-time intent vendor Clickagy, “a leading provider of artificial intelligence-powered buyer intent data.”

Along with the acquisition, ZoomInfo announced the launch of Streaming Intent, which alerts customers when companies display above-average B2B topic search activity.

The acquisition is DiscoverOrg/ZoomInfo’s fourth over the past two years but the first since ZoomInfo went public in June.  In 2019, DiscoverOrg acquired rival sales and marketing intelligence vendor ZoomInfo before rebranding itself as ZoomInfo Technologies.  It also had two tuck-ins last year: NeverBounce, an email verification vendor that it was already using for data verification, and Komiko, the underpinnings of its Inbox AI service.

There are six major categories of B2B intelligence, and ZoomInfo is a significant player in four of them: Contacts, Technographics, Sales Triggers, and Intent Data.  They also provide firmographics, but this remains an area for future growth and development.  The category where they do not offer datasets is financial services intelligence, including company financials, filings (e.g. SEC EDGAR, UCC, UK Companies House), and risk reports (credit and supplier).

Deal Rationale

“In the last year alone, we’ve had literally hundreds of thousands of conversations with customers and prospects and one thing is clear—they want intent data to live at the core of how they go to market,” blogged CEO Henry Schuck about the rationale for acquiring Clickagy.  “And over the course of those calls it’s easy to see intent data taking a seat right alongside the two most important pieces of business information—account and contact data.  The three together, driving account identification, targeting, and segmentation will soon be table stakes for how sellers and marketers identify their next best customers.”

Schuck emphasized that product design at ZoomInfo is iterative with plans for improving a product in place before each release goes to production.  Shuck called their previous intent offerings good, but not good enough.  This drive to improve their intent services led them to investigate best-of-breed intent data solutions to enhance their offering.  Their research led them to Clickagy.

“Clickagy had built a robust data processing engine that looks at billions of key data points across millions of websites and then uses robust natural language processing and artificial intelligence to categorize and make sense of those data points.  Their technology, approach to data collection, privacy-first perspective, and focus on intent data made it clear that we not only wanted Clickagy to be a part of our intent product, but we needed Clickagy to be a part of ZoomInfo.”

ZoomInfo CEO Henry Schuck

ZoomInfo Intent will continue to provide “good keywords, quality-focused data science, [and] industry-leading account data,” but now “casts a wider net” and delivers actionable intent throughout the day.  Combining the companies will “dramatically shorten the path from data, to decision, to action,” blogged Shuck.

“B2B intent data is becoming core to the way modern go-to-market organizations prioritize their outreach to prospects and customers,” wrote Schuck.  “Our acquisition of Clickagy enables us to scale intent to provide what will soon be the market’s most predictive and complete B2B intent data set for sellers and marketers.  We believe this acquisition both exemplifies our mission to continuously innovate and cements our position as the pacesetter for data-driven sales and marketing outreach.”


Tomorrow I will wrap up my discussion of the acquisition with an overview of Streaming Intent and Clickagy’s approach to data privacy.

TechTarget Prospect-Level Intent (Part II)

Continuing my coverage on TechTarget’s Prospect-Level Intent from yesterday

Prospects are scored and ranked within accounts and across all accounts based on “their recent research activity across the TechTarget network as well as their direct engagement with the customer’s content, website, and advertising.”

To assist with account planning and messaging, Priority Engine added Entry Points, a set of user-defined talking points based upon “a prospect’s recent technology and vendor interests mapped to the particular company’s strengths.”  Entry Points are also delivered at the account-level. They are defined by client teams to call out the topics most salient to company positioning and capabilities.  Client-defined Entry Points are visible within Priority Engine, Salesforce, and export files and are reflected in both the account and prospect rankings.

Prospect-Level Intent is also available within Priority Engine’s Connected App for Salesforce.  Sales reps can quickly fill sales cadences and call lists with high-priority prospects and focused prescriptive insights.  With a single click, Sales reps can add new prospect names to Salesforce, providing a direct path from buyer intent to active leads and contacts.  Prospect and account-level insights, including Entry Points and behavioral intelligence, are displayed within Salesforce Account, Contact, and Lead records.

When uploading Accounts, domains are used for account matching and duplicate prevention.  If a Prospect cannot be associated with an account record, it is uploaded as a Lead.

Account-level fields include account rank, domain, employees, industry, revenue, account address, and up to ten account entry points.  Other account insights include five account signals (e.g. Widespread, Sustained, Late Stage, Stakeholder, Cross-Vendor), an account active this week flag, and behavioral flags for marketing (e.g. visited website, engaged with content, clicked banner), ICP match flag, and their Account Star Ranking.

Contact-level fields include name, title, email, content downloaded, a prospect active this week flag, up to ten Prospect Entry Points, contact address, contact phone, LinkedIn URL, and Priority Engine Contact URL.

Ongoing Salesforce enrichment is not yet available but is on the Priority Engine roadmap.

Priority Engine also supports Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, and HubSpot out-of-the-box, with custom support for other platforms.

Prospect-Level Intent is available in both Priority Engine and the SMB Priority Engine Express subscriptions.  The Salesforce connector is included as part of a standard Priority Engine license.

TechTarget Prospect-Level Intent

TechTarget announced Prospect-Level Intent within its Priority Engine technology sales and marketing intelligence platform.  Prospect-Level Intent builds on the inherent strength of its second-party intent dataset.  The intent data is collected from over 140 enterprise technology media sites owned by TechTarget.  Because its readers have opted into the platform, intent data is associated with buyers and influencers at target accounts and derived from content carefully tagged by topic, buying stage, competitors, etc.

Unlike third-party intent, which is both anonymous and limited to account-level buying patterns, second-party intent identifies account-level activity and surfaces active members of buying teams, including technology decision-makers, economic decision-makers, administrators, or influencers.  Selected via TechTarget algorithms, Priority Engine prospects – individuals intensely engaged in specific research – are likely members of an active purchase decision.

TechTarget’s Prospect-Level Intent informs sales and marketing professionals when prospects are active in their market category or have downloaded content related to the company or its competitors, regardless of whether they are current or net-new contacts.

“Account-level surges do tell you what’s popular with a set of personas right now, but tell you relatively little about who might actually be making a purchase,” blogged Rebecca Kitchens, SVP of Market Development.  “News-based surges tell us something about the mood of the market, but explain very little about impending purchases except in the macro sense.  They may give you something to talk about with accounts, but they don’t tell you enough about actual buying motions to warrant aggressive prioritization.”

Kitchens warned against weak intent signals.  “Most content is designed to be broadly appealing to maximize eyeballs but provides only weak purchase intent at best.   Real-purchase intent is generated by high-quality content that applies to the research task at hand.”

Adds Andy Briney, TechTarget SVP of Products, “Many in the intent market have been wrongly focused only on accounts, when it is the people and teams at those accounts who actually buy…while TechTarget has always provided named, active prospects within accounts, these new enhancements empower revenue organizations with unmatched visibility into opted-in buyers in active buyers’ journeys to accelerate engagements.”

TechTarget has over 20 million opted-in technology decision-makers and influencers.  Depending on the category, around 70% hold technology titles, with the remainder being buying committee members from other departments also engaged in technology decision-related research.   With rapidly evolving changes in tech decision making, TechTarget data capture prospect functions and roles reflecting a wide range of players often not predicted by historically focused models.

TechTarget is so confident in the value of its intent data that it now labels Priority Engine as “The industry’s only opt-in, Prospect-Level Intent™ data.”

“At the end of the ABM process, it is all about having stronger relationships with the customer.  And delivering improved customer experience is achieved in two ways: By caring to do so and then having the insights necessary to cut away noise and speak directly to customer’s needs.  Prospect-Level Intent is the best way to do this.  In study after study we’ve done, we find that when the properly trained salesperson or whoever’s doing the outreach uses the insights successfully, they will get better response and conversions — ultimately leading to more pipeline.”

John Steinert, TechTarget CMO

A redesigned Priority Engine user interface “provides faster access to buying team contacts within the context of their buyer journey, making it easier for sellers, marketers, and ABM teams to act on Prospect-Level Intent.”  The UI also offers a customized view of top prospects based upon a firm’s ICP and research activity, helping define account rating and list ranking.

“You have to make it easy for [sales] to be able to quickly assess what they need to do in order to take the next best action with the accounts and prospects that they’re going after in their territory – it’s all about enablement,” said TechTarget CMO John Steinert.  “Having that [data-based] connection with marketing allows sales to easily do this and take the easiest, fastest path to revenue easily leveraging precise data and intelligence.”


Continue to Part II