The Importance of Audiences (and Their Data) in Supporting B2B Outcomes

audience-centric dataIn B2B right now, there are two divergent concepts of how a company can efficiently maximize access to more of the currently active demand present in its markets via purchase intent data. One is a tech-centric approach, highly dependent on publicly accessible data, and characterized by significant opacity. The other is the well-established audience-centric business model that TechTarget and BrightTALK (among others) are committed to for the long term. These models have important implications for both the near- and longer-term performance of marketing and sales that should be considered as you evolve the components of your martech and salestech stacks.

The Tech-Centric Concept

Driven by a vision that new technology might be able to mine valuable nuggets from unlikely sources, entrepreneurs in the data space have been trying to develop additional data streams to attract sales and marketing customers. They believe (and would like you to believe) that with the right combination of computing power and algorithms, using only publicly accessible internet sources, they can reassemble faint, disconnected signals into useful guidance. But is there really any there, there? Without straightforward ways to inspect the data, the process, and the incremental outcomes, it’s very hard to tell. A prospective data customer can’t inspect exactly what’s going into these data feeds and that makes any claimed outcomes hard to connect back.

Somehow, from vastly dissimilar, poorly understood datapoints, suppliers are claiming to be able to construct useful pictures of real buyers’ journeys in action. Set aside concerns about privacy or actual legal rights to this data (a still-developing legislative area), it’s a big logical leap that unrelated signals can reliably identify actual buying processes where the data points are uncoupled from each other. With all the randomness in this approach — the lack of identifiable connections between actual buying team members and connected processes — reassembling such signals into anything definitive may actually be impossible. Is surging search activity on Security, for example, indicative of anything meaningful if all companies are exhibiting it?

As such, we feel that data buyers need to proceed with eyes especially wide open here. Furthermore, your teams must be careful not to be caught on the backend by the correlation vs. causation trap that’s an all-to-common reality of ex post analyses in this space. Correlations in outcome data are common; that doesn’t mean they drove the outcome. To avoid traps like these, you deserve to be able to freely inspect the logic and substance on the front-end of the data you buy to be sure you can believe in it. You should suspect any source where the connection between the inputs provided and the outcomes promised requires leaps of faith.

The Audience-Centric Model

For over twenty years of delivering on our approach, we’ve proven to thousands of clients that there’s a much simpler, more logical and direct way of tapping into more demand in a market. It starts with really focusing on supporting buyers’ information needs – end-user buyers doing pre-purchase research. Our concept is built on the principle that more buyers in any market will congregate around the online outlets that they find consistently useful for decision making. It’s essentially the complete opposite of thinking that buyers would randomly distribute themselves (and their relevant behaviors) across unrelated areas of the virtual internet landscape.

We call these congregations our “audiences”, and we invest substantial sums every year to keep them vibrant — with original content developed specifically for making better buying decisions. Just as YouTube has emphatically proven in both B2C and B2B, valuable audiences (on even the most arcane topics) can be reliably assembled using relevant, useful content. Tech B2B audiences, with their very specific needs, congregate very much like those on YouTube do. They pursue buying research where they get buying research support. That’s why the behaviors relevant to uncovering a buyer’s journey in tech are, in fact, not broadly distributed everywhere around the web – Our model has proven that they occur in limited, clearly definable spaces.

Like YouTube’s long tail of hyper-segmentable topic areas, our content meets very specific needs that are challenging to fulfill at all and difficult for most companies to sustain on their own at any scale. Furthermore, our model makes the information needs of buyers clearly observable and verifiable, so much so, that in exchange for the content we freely provide, buyers willingly opt-in to our sharing their personal data with our clients. This give-to-get content-based relationship can’t be replicated by models built around publicly accessible data. In the tech-centric model, for example, permission for the use of the data by other marketers is neither requested nor obtained. How this plays out as Google removes cookies and privacy legislation catches up could have major implications for public data harvesters in tech-centric models.

What It Means for Our Clients

Putting it simply, when B2B buyers have a technology need, they congregate around TechTarget and BrightTALK content more than anywhere else on the internet. For you, this means that it’s much easier to find and access more of the current demand in your marketplace — because we’ve demonstrably aggregated it for you. We’ll continue to do this for your current markets and new ones as they develop, because that’s how our business model works: We provide the information audiences need so that we can supply the demand and data clients require to connect with more productively.

Among similar such congregations on the web, the most valuable ones for you are all private (because they share some version of our business model), so no amount of technology and AI has access to the data there – no matter what a supplier might tell you. The data necessary to assemble high-impact information about real buyer’s journeys is simply not available from tech-driven public access models. With respect to TechTarget and BrightTALK, because of how we built our long-tail model over two decades, none of the other outlets can rival the precision, scope or scale of important insight into buying behavior that we can provide – more than 30M opt-in members from nearly 16M companies worldwide.

Our Continued Strategy and Commitment

While we work together every day with many of you on improving your go-to-market outcomes, our broader purpose in this piece is to help every member of your team navigate what has become a very confusing and crowded space; it’s a space where promises are being made that have little likelihood of dependably paying you back in either the near term or over longer periods.

At TechTarget and BrightTALK, we’re committed to the continued development of the most active buyer audiences available around the market categories that matter most to you. So that in turn, you can develop the most effective and efficient programs possible — to target, influence, engage and close them for the continued growth of your businesses.

Active Demand, audience segmentation, b2b purchase intent data, BrightTALK, data-driven marketing, data-driven strategies, demand generation, martech, salestech, TechTarget

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