Thursday, March 26, 2015

Terminus Offers Targeted Display Ads for B2B

Tuesday’s post on the Adobe Marketing Cloud illustrated the complexity of solutions that combine many marketing and advertising components. Despite my best efforts, and much cooperation from Adobe, I’m sure it still misses many nuances of how Adobe components do or don’t work together. Nor does it address the challenges that users face in making sense of it all. Coincidentally, yesterday's FierceCMO blog indirectly quotes Lenovo’s Michael Ballard on this very point: “Adobe is not a solution for everyone because it requires a lot of expertise and attention. To help the system run smoothly, Lenovo has both dedicated internal Adobe teams, as well as full-time support people on Adobe's payroll, which means the company spends equal amounts on both products and support services.” And Lenovo uses just only two of Adobe’s eight solutions.

For many smaller companies, a suite like Adobe, Oracle, IBM,, SAS, or Teradata isn’t an option and would be overkill if it were. Those firms will generally do better with a simpler solution that was built as an integrated whole, such as a StrongView (recently reviewed here) or SiteCore (reviewed here not so recently).

But such integrated solutions are rarely comprehensive. This means that meeting a full range of needs requires connecting with external systems.  Some vendors do this better than others. A good foundational system also needs a robust customer database that can integrate data from all the channels, whether it supports them directly or via partners.

One area where partners are especially common is ad management. Although martech and adtech are on the path to merging into madtech, they’re still largely separate, especially outside the big enterprise suites. This means that integration has largely meant sharing audiences defined in a marketing automation system with demand side platforms (DSPs), so the DSPs can bid on audience members when they appear on ad networks. For B2B marketers, this has happened mostly through Demandbase and what was formerly Bizo (now part of LinkedIn). Vendemore (reviewed here) is another option.

Terminus, which officially launched in February, is new alternative. The system imports lists of target accounts from a company’s CRM or marketing automation system, or lets clients build their own lists from Terminus’ own B2B company database. Users can then specify the corporate roles they want to target. Terminus uses third party data partners to identify cookies belonging to people in the specified roles at the selected companies and connects to ad exchanges, Facebook, and mobile apps to bid on them. The system automatically monitors response and optimizes its bids to get the best results within a company’s campaign budget.

Here are a few features to consider when comparing Terminus with other B2B advertising solutions:

- self-service. The system provides users with a multi-step process to import their data, select target segments, assign creative materials, set daily and/or total campaign budgets, define campaign end dates, and start executing campaigns. During campaign set-up, the system shows how many companies and contacts match the segmentation criteria within the imported CRM or marketing automation data and how many Terminus can find in its cookie pool.

- email-based targeting. Terminus selects cookies by using LiveRamp and other data partners to match them against email addresses from the CRM or marketing automation system. The company says this is more accurate than targeting based on IP address. (The company can also use its own database to reach people not in the clients' systems.)  Integration is currently available for CRM, Marketo, and HubSpot, with plans to add Pardot and Oracle Eloqua shortly.

- ad inventory.
Terminus currently integrates with well over fifty ad networks and exchanges. It is adding programmatic premium inventory and direct deals to the base programmatic impressions.

- sales stages. Terminus imports opportunity stage from the CRM system and can use this in segmentation. This lets it build separate campaigns to serve different creative to companies in different stages. But the system isn’t tracking messages to specific individuals, so it can’t avoid showing the same message multiple times to the same person.

- automated optimization. Terminus adjusts bids based on twenty variables such as ad size and time of day without asking marketers to make any decisions. Like most real time bidding systems, it typically aims to optimize click through rate or cost per click. The system will automatically serve alternative creatives and pick the best one; true a/b testing and reporting is planned for future release.

- reporting: the system shows spend, reach, impressions, and clicks for each account, giving marketers a precise view of how each account has been treated. Opportunity value can be imported to add return on investment analysis. Reports can be filtered by opportunity status, for example to show only closed deals. Reports can also summarize results by device, ad format, creative version, and other variables. Marketers can change creative from within the reporting screen if they spot something that isn’t performing well.

- pricing. Terminus charges a fixed platform fee and passes through the advertising expenses at cost. The company considers this among its most important innovations, compared with other firms that make their profit by marking up advertising expenses. The Terminus approach provides greater clarity and lets the company optimize its clients’ ad purchases without affecting its own profits. The platform fee is currently about $500 per month although Terminus expects to offer several tiers starting from $725 to $1,000 per month later this year.

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