In the past few years, Bizo CEO Russ Glass says that marketers have gotten smarter about using online data for targeting – and that’s a good thing, since his company’s success revolves around B2B audience segments gleaned from data partnerships with publishers. It’s less about “evangelizing the value of data,” says Glass, as the marketer brings specific desired outcomes that they want to effect with data’s help.
AdExchanger spoke to Glass last week about data trends and Bizo's evolution.
AdExchanger: How do you make the case for third-party data? And do you believe first-party is key to a marketer’s success in online ads?
RUSS GLASS: These labels are other people's labels. Third-party data sometimes is someone else's first-party data, right? The whole nomenclature is not quite right. I would much rather see it be high-quality data versus low-quality data.
I'll give you our use case. It would correlate with any data company using registration data and other very high-quality sources of first-party data that create this data set. In fact, I would say that our data is going to be of higher quality than most first-party data sets for the same reason that the Experians and Acxioms of the world exist: we spend time and effort keeping data up-to-date and relevant. It's impossible for any first party to have that same level of effort in their own data, so they tend to outsource it.
The marketer needs to think about quality instead of whether it’s first-, second- or third-party data.
Recency is important because the world changes. Any data set – whether you're dealing with purchase intent data or business demographic data – is going to go stale over time. Certain data sets go stale faster. Purchase intent is a great example. If someone's looking for a golf club via online shopping, you probably only have minutes to an hour to serve the right ad in front of that person before they buy that golf club.
When buying a car, you have a little longer, probably because the consumer is going to do a little more research. You probably have days to a couple of weeks. Whereas if you look at our kind of data, business demographics, people change their jobs just about every 18 months. You have a longer window – months to years.
Data is a perishable good. That's why recency is important. The more recent that data has been captured, updated and refreshed, the more likely it is to be accurate, and the more valuable and high-quality it can become.
Let's take your business demographics data with an 18-month “lookback” window. Does that mean you have a single cookie that you store for 18 months? How does that work?
If you could capture a piece of data – let's say it's somebody's title – on the day they started that job, then yes, if you maintain that “title” cookie for 18 months before they change that job, you wouldn't have to update it. In the real world, you're going to be capturing that data at different stages, though. The key is even though that data will tend to be more static than purchase intent data or other types of real-time data, you don't necessarily know where in the lifespan it is, so it is still important to continue refreshing it and keeping it up to date. At Bizo, if we haven't seen any updates from a user within six months, that cookie might be expired. On average, updating could be once a month.
How does Bizo keep its audience segmentation data up-to-date? Is it about having your pixels on the right vertical sites? Is it about just having big reach through an exchange?
You nailed it when you mentioned vertical sites. We capture data from all the data partners whom we're paying. There's a monetary exchange for things like registration data and IP address information. We have enough of those sites across our B2B world that as users are visiting these different sites, and we can often look and say, "Hey, this person is still at such-and-such company” or “This person still has such-and-such title,” and so on, and then we verify that the data we have is still up-to-date.
Other data sets are more purchase intent-based. Their keys are going to be a little different. They just want as much scale as possible so that as somebody makes a bunch of shopping intent moves around the web, [the data set] can see as much of that as they can and determine where they are in that purchase cycle, ensuring that they're getting all the freshness and recency to that purchase intent they need.
How much of a problem is the degradation of cookies? Users are deleting cookies. Maybe they change machines.
We see less of all that than I think the average data company sees because we deal exclusively in B2B data. It's computers at work. There's much less cookie-clearing at work than on personal computers for the simple fact that the stuff you're doing at work is very different than what you might do in a more privacy-sensitive way in your personal life.
If cookies are cleared, that user is going back to the same sites that they use to be successful in their job everyday or pretty often. We're able to recapture that anonymous business demographic information on a frequent basis.
If you look at our partnerships contributing this data – B2B publishers – they tend to be smaller publishers. They tend to need multiple modes of monetization to provide the content they're producing. Again, the key is that they do it in a privacy-sensitive way, so we never capture anything like name and address or anything that could be tied back to personal information.
For other companies in the B2C world, there's so much competition for consumer data. So many companies go after some of this data – particularly the high-value stuff, the auto intender stuff, and the kind of retargeting cookies that are within minutes of someone making a purchase. A lot of cookie bombing still goes on, where you get credit for the last look or the last click so that these vendors get credit for the buy. But it’s something this industry is working hard to clean up.
Is the marketing automation sector interested in your B2B data?
To be honest, it's the crux of what is so exciting about the next stage of this space. Real-time bidding (RTB) brings phenomenal value, but there's a little bit of "so what?" When you can start to integrate automation into the core systems that marketers are using to be successful, now things get exciting because you've enabled more efficiency in the enterprise and the marketing team than they've had before. I'll give you an example. Bizo has integrated with Eloqua – one of many systems that we're integrated with – and this enables a marketer with the same process that they’re doing day-to-day, but through automation. It syncs email with social and display such that within a certain marketing automation wave, a consumer is going to get the display ad that syncs up with that message. As they move down the funnel, they’re going to get different ads, case studies – whatever the marketing may demand, based on where they are in the tunnel. From an outbound standpoint, you just automated a huge part of what the marketer does beyond email.
What's even more aligned with the Holy Grail of marketing is that all of that information about number of display ads viewed and that this person was served two social ads – that's now all part of the attribution data. You as a marketer can see how you are going to most effectively model to drive success. That’s a big example of the power that automation, integrated with the right marketing systems, can create.
The programmatic space and marketing automation – do these two come together at some point?
The jury is still out. But if you define their “coming together” as being part of a single marketing stack, then yes, I think that they do come together. My example would be Adobe, Oracle or IBM. I would also add that it most likely comes together through acquisition versus any one company developing all of these capabilities. But then, you're going to have vendors like Bizo who are saying, "We have a lot of relevant capabilities to start tying these things together,” because you're certainly going to have to.
Slight change of subject. How's Bizo’s media business going?
As you may know, we launched Bizo with the media business and then added our data business. As companies, marketers and publishers were saying , "It would be great if we could have better insight into the people coming to our site." We created a data business to help power that. Now we have two sides of the business: marketing solutions or media solutions, and data solutions.
Data solutions and all the integrations are the latest iteration of the data business. We're taking it from just a pure data set to a data set plus all these integrations that marketers can use to leverage their marketing stack.
Is offline starting to play in your world more?
It is, but the last statement you made is important in here. We use offline data to help our clients associate their CRM system and all of their first-party data with our broader data set. Bizo doesn't maintain any kind of PII ourselves, but we help out clients be smarter about their data sets and more effective with their data sets through offline data. The onboarding process actually tailors the offline data.
What is the offline data these days that people try to onboard or use through you guys?
It's the business email address. That's the key to the B2B "kingdom" – the business email address.
About Facebook – it is a B2C play, obviously. Does Facebook fit into your B2B world?
We didn't think it did about a year and a half ago, when we did a bunch of testing and results came back to say no, Facebook doesn’t fit. Then later, we started to retarget and use our data to address businesspeople on Facebook. It was kind of a “holy cow” moment where you combine our data with the low cost of the inventory on Facebook, and Facebook is our single best ROI source of inventory today.
I think there are a couple of reasons for that. One is that it's a highly engaged audience. Two is that – specifically for B2B – it’s an audience that's just wasting time. When they get something that's actually interesting, they have time to download it or engage with it. We see a ton of opportunity. Our Facebook channel is the fastest-growing new media source for us, and we've integrated it in with our full-funnel integrations. I feel a lot of potential there.