Demandbase acquires ad data experts WhoToo

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Demandbase, a leader in the account-based marketing (ABM) technology space, acquired WhoToo, a profiler of customer ad data. This deal is poised to create the largest information platform for B2B marketers.

That sounds like a good press release subhead, but what really happened is that advertisers and marcom pros got a better way of optimizing their B2B promo spend.

“WhoToo gives us a whole new dataset that we didn’t have before,” says Chris Golec, CEO of Demandbase, in an interview. “WhoToo has hundreds of millions of (customer) ad profiles.” And when B2B marketers join those profiles with an ABM strategy they can directly tie ads to customer activity on their web sites, according to Golec. In that way, ads are mapped to ABM. “(So you) serve ads to the right target.”

Personally identifiable information
For B2B marketers and customers alike that can raise concerns about privacy, but Golec assures B2B News Network that Demandbase only knows people’s attributes and that they do not know the identities of specific customers. So there is no tethering of customers to their personally identifiable information (PII).

Chris Golec, CEO of Demandbase
Chris Golec, CEO of Demandbase

For example, Demandbase can know someone is in the finance function at an account company but not that individual’s exact name. With WhoToo’s cache of ad profiles sourced from leading data providers and Demandbase’s patented real-time IP identification technology that’s been crawling the web for seven years mapping billions of IP addresses, Golec knows they have the targets. And Demandbase analytics can verify those targets, as B2BNN learned last spring.

Others in the martech space agree this action has the potential to move ABM to the next level. “Demandbase’s acquisition of WhoToo validates the idea that targeting accounts is great,” says Jeff Hassemer, former marketing consultant to Fortune 1000 companies and current head strategist at Integrate. “Ultimately, marketers need to target and engage individuals in those companies.”

More refined targeting
In the end, the marriage of ABM and hundreds of millions of customer datasets leads to more refined ad targeting, according to Golec. For example, at one of those proverbial Fortune 1000 companies, Demandbase should be able to pick out and serve ads only to HR (human resources) people and not send ads to those unconcerned about personnel matters, saving B2B advertisers effort and money. “Much of B2B marketing is wasteful,” Golec says. “It targets only 2 to 3 percent of eligible customers.”

But after the WhoToo acquisition is fully integrated, the company’s ABM technology should scale to bring B2B marketers the precision they have long lacked to cultivate interested customers. “Demandbase is likely to continue to push ABM with this acquisition,” Hassemer says. “Only now, they have the power to build out full personas on the targets for their customers.”

Martech from B2C does not translate to B2B
With marketing automation having a longer pedigree in the B2C space than in B2B, enterprise practitioners have often played kid siblings to their CPG brethren, inheriting the latter’s ill-fitting tech. “Ninety-five percent of spend is wasted on B2B martech,” Golec says, “(because it’s) borrowed from B2C companies.”

However, with the WhoToo integration in the offing and a new $30 million investment round from Sageview Capital recently in the till, Demandbase appears positioned to break that trend and bring B2B-based ABM into its own. “ABM is quickly becoming a very sophisticated strategy,” Hassemer says. “And all B2B marketers should follow these developments closely.”

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Derek Handova

Derek Handova

Derek Handova is a veteran journalist writing on various B2B vertical beats. He started out as associate editor of Micro Publishing News, a pioneer in coverage of the desktop publishing space and more recently as a freelance writer for Digital Journal, Economy Lead (finance and IR beats) and Intelligent Utility (electrical transmission and distribution beats).