Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Vendemore Moves B2B Display Ad Targeting Towards the Bottom of the Funnel

My post last month on DemandBase and Bizo’s products to target Web display ads at individual businesses resulted in a call from Vendemore, a Stockholm, Sweden-based firm that has been providing similar services for seven and a half years. Like the other firms, Vendemore uses IP address to identify the company of Web site visitors, spots visitors of interest to its clients, and sends targeted ads to those visitors. This can happen via real time bidding for ads on external Web sites or on the client’s own home page. Vendemore can also use cookies to identify site visitors for retargeting on other Web sites within an ad network.

Users can assign spending limits, frequency caps, and ad contents to individual businesses or to lists of businesses. API integration with CRM and marketing automation systems also lets those systems assign businesses to the target lists. This allows marketers to send different contents to companies as the marketing automation system tracks them through different stages of the buying process. Vendemore has also developed standard formats for channels including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and surveys, making it easy to convert existing content into advertisements. It provides more global coverage than U.S.-centric DemandBase and Bizo.

It's tempting to position Vendemore and similar firms at the top of the marketing funnel, as a way to connect with new prospects that have not yet identified themselves to a company. This would offer a simple narrative about expanding B2B marketing automation beyond its home base in the middle of the funnel, where it nurtures known leads. But that’s not quite right. Vendemore CEO Christopher Engman says the system is used primarily to reach people at firms which have already begun a buying process. He said the other most common applications are to encourage cross selling within existing client accounts and to reach potential users at firms that have authorized corporate purchases of a product but left the actual buying decisions to individual divisions or departments. In each case, the systems reaches people at target firms who can't be identified by the sales force or marketing automation.  In two of those three cases, the result is actually to move further down the funnel, to existing customers, rather than higher up.

Looking even further down the funnel, today also brought an announcement by retention specialist Optimove of its new ability send retention messages via paid online advertising, in the form of Facebook Custom Audiences. I’ve recently had some other conversations as well about using marketing automation to support retention campaigns.

So we are indeed seeing an expansion of marketing automation along two dimensions: beyond email to media such as paid advertising and Web personalization, and down the funnel towards customer growth and retention. The move down-funnel makes particular sense because it leverages the known individuals present in the marketing automation database.

I still do expect to see marketing automation systems move up-funnel towards acquisition.  This will use paid advertising and social media, supported by unified databases built with Customer Data Platforms. But apparently it will happen later than I had expected.  After all, it's easier to add value when selling to existing customers, there are fewer synergies between acquisition and marketing automation (i.e., no known individuals to leverage), and marketing automation is run by different people than paid advertising and social media. If you’re sniffing around for the Next Big Thing, this suggests you might turn your nose in a slightly different direction.

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