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The Future of Data is Recognizing Intent: Interview with the Head of Global Partnerships at Bombora

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We all want to reach our audience at the right time—advertisers and publishers alike crave that genuine connection with them, hoping to provide valuable information, services or products.

Knowing exactly what’s valuable at what time is the tough part. That’s where data is helpful—it can help discover a person’s interests, demographics, preferences and more.

Bombora, a leading provider of B2B data takes it a step further. They identify individuals, their specific companies and the products and services those companies are interested in buying based on the content they are consuming.

We sat down with Greg Herbst, VP of Audience Solutions at Bombora, to discuss what they’re all about, and the specifics of how advertisers can incorporate second-party and third-party data, or intent and demographic data respectively, into their digital strategies.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, and how you came to be SVP of Global Partnerships at Bombora?

“I started my career in the 90s working as a commercial corporate credit officer. It was there that I started to understand the value of digitizing dollar, and data, in a time where everything was paper-based. It opened my eyes to the huge amount of b2b data, that existed in-between enterprises, banks and the processing powerhouses. It was fun helping corporates interconnect their data from operations to purchasing and billing to inventory and many more workflows.

I was around a lot of different technology back then and I developed a passion for transforming paper-based systems to digital. Then, I became involved in the dot com era where I was a proud part of the online banking revolution. From there, I expanded to other data verticals like entertainment, healthcare, eDiscovery, enterprise and pure b2b search. It was Bizo (the first company to really bring B2B data online), where I was heading up data partnerships. It was also where I entered adtech and quite frankly, was surprised to see all the industry opportunities to adopt technology like Artificial Intelligence.

Back then, intent data was purely a b2c thing. My big opportunity came when LinkedIn purchased Bizo.

I had many offers as to where to go next, but I chose Bombora because of their concept of a b2b data cooperative (‘co-op’), in which publishers share their anonymous user data and in turn get access to the larger, pooled dataset.

Back then, I didn’t really know what a b2b data co-op was but joined the small team on day one… and it’s still just as exciting to see the power of it. The data co-op really is the next generation of data. It makes possible new use cases like a private marketplace (PMP) that complements marketing and analytical initiatives.”

Why is Bombora relevant to today’s B2B advertiser?

“B2B marketing is much more complex than consumer marketing. It’s not just one person making a purchase decision, it’s several.

Using our data, you can target a professional with all the topics relevant to them—the data is based on much more than just a job title. It’s important because while the ultimate signoff may be made by one person with a specific title or seniority level, the research that influences that decision is made by many people at all levels across a company, and the one thing that flags them is their interest in specific topics.

Relevance for today’s B2B advertiser comes from reaching all of the people who are helping make the purchase decision, but also in aligning advertising with sales efforts.”

How advertisers consider Bombora in their day-to-day?

“Programmatic should be a mainstay—including identifying and targeting professionals and companies based on who they are and what their b2b behaviors and interests are. Using it for Account-Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns is especially effective as we can run a Company Surge report on a brand’s list of target accounts and in turn they can prioritize the campaign budget on those companies that are in market.

Our data also fuels the marketing tech stack that in many ways is a perfect match with the adoption of AI workflows and analytics. Company Surge is integrated into a number of business solutions, as well as martech and adtech platforms.

It can be fed into a brand’s tech stack to supercharge lead gen initiatives, be used through Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) to help make email campaigns more relevant, and used through Customer Resource Management (CRM) systems to alert a sales rep when a new prospect or client is in a market to help them have more relevant conversations.”

What is intent data?

“Intent data is collected about web users’ content consumption or ‘observed behavior.’ It can provide insight into their interests, and from this, indicate a potential ‘intent’ to take an action.

The source of our Intent data is the first data co-operative of premium B2B publishers, analyst firms, events, b2b vendors and brands. Bombora scans their websites and categorizes their content into a taxonomy of over 4000 b2b topics. Co-op members contribute content consumption and behavioral data about their audiences. On average we monitor 1 billion online interactions a day.

This forms the basis of our Company Surge data. Combined with demographic and firmographic data, it can help identify what topics particular audience segments are currently interested in, otherwise known as their intent.”

How do think an advertiser should fit third-party data into their digital marketing strategy?

“Third-party data, or demographic data, performs better when it has big scale. Programmatic costs are lower for this very same reason.

Things get better when you combine with 2nd party data. Bombora’s intent data is 2nd party data, which can help advertisers gain insight on their audiences most recent b2b interest and personalize their messaging accordingly.  

Fusing 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data helps the savvy marketer optimize across every marketing initiative.

Really, the great divide with most brands is within their sales and marketing teams and technology. Good quality data will help bridge the gaps of adtech and martech and help a brand work cohesively across the board.”

How can Taboola marketers leverage Bombora’s Account Based Marketing (ABM) offering?

“It’s easy. We can create a custom segment from a list of companies, through an automated process. Working directly with our team of b2b data specialists, marketers will identify the most relevant topics and ways in which to activate the data.

Adding Company Surge will help identify what accounts are in market and build a more precise list to target. What’s more, we can create a list of companies interested in topics relevant to your business, that are not already on your existing list for prospecting purposes.”  

Do you have any predictions for user data in 2018?

“Right now, I think we’re all trying to figure out the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and privacy. There’s leakage in our industry, and the companies that will win are the ones that are transparent about their data. I predict that privacy and transparency at the professional and company-level is what’s next for us.

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to improve, improve, improve. Both of these things together are going to create a better-quality life for all the advertisers out there.”

Bombora is currently a Taboola partner, and has been since 2015.

*Note: Currently there are 63 segments in Taboola, made up of several topics from Bombora’s large taxonomy of over 4,000 intent topics.

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