Friday, April 24, 2015

Bombora Feeds B2B Data to Everyone

One of the little patterns that caught my attention at last week’s Marketo conference was that several vendors mentioned using data from the same source: Madison Logic Data, which recently renamed itself Bombora*. The company was already familiar to me through clients who deal with it. But I had never gotten a clear picture of exactly what they do. Those additional mentions finally pushed me to explore further.

A couple of emails later and I was on the phone with Erik Matlick, Madison Logic founder and Bombora CEO. We went through a bit of the back story: Madison Logic was founded as a B2B media company six years ago. It built a network of B2B publishers to sell ads and gather data about their site visitors. Both businesses grew nicely, but the company found that selling media conflicted with finding partners to gather data. So last November it spun off the data piece as Madison Logic Data, keeping Madison Logic as the media business.  The change from Madison Logic Data to Bombora was announced on April 13.

To which you probably say, who cares? Fair enough. What really matters is what Bombora does today and, more pointedly, what it can do for you. Turns out, that’s quite a bit.

Bombora’s core business is assembling data about B2B companies and individuals. It does this through a network of publishers who put a Bombora pixel on their Web pages.  This lets Bombora track activities including article and video viewing, white paper downloads, Webinar attendance, on-site search, and participation in online communities. The company tags its publishers' content with a 2,300-topic taxonomy, allowing it to associate visitors with intent based on the topics they consume. It identifies visitors based on IP address, domain, and registration forms on the publisher sites. It also attaches demographic information based on information they provide on the registration forms and the publishers have in their own profiles. The volumes are huge: 4 billion transactions per month, more than 250 million business decision makers, and 85 million email addresses collected in a year.

All that information has many uses: [feel free to insert your favorite cliché about how data being important]. Like meat packers who use every part of the pig but the squeal, Bombora is determined the squeeze the most value possible from the data it assembles. This means selling it intent and demographic audience segments for display advertising, marketing automation and email segmentation, Web audience analytics, data enhancement, content personalization, media purchasing, and predictive modeling.  Different users get different data: sometimes cookies, device IDs or email addresses, and sometimes by company, individual, or segment. Publishers who contribute data are treated as part of a co-op and get access to all 2,300 intent topics. Others only can select from around 60 summary categories.

If you’re a B2B marketer, you’re probably drooling at the thought of all that data. So why haven’t you heard of Madison Logic and Bombora before? Well, like those thrifty meat packers, Bombora sells only at wholesale.  In each channel, partners embed the Bombora data within their own products. Sometimes it's baked into the price and sometimes you pay extra. It’s a “Bombora inside” strategy and makes perfect sense: everything’s better with data.

At the risk of beating a dead pig, I'll also note out that Bombora illustrates a point I've made before: that public sources of data will increasingly supplement and to some degree may even replace privately gathered data.  This is a key part of the "madtech" vision that says the data layer of your customer management infrastructure will increasingly reside outside of your company's control.  The risk to companies who use this data is that their competitors can access it just as easily, so there's still a need to build proprietary data sources in addition to adding value in other areas such as better analytics or customer experience.

Enough of that.  I'm hungry.

*Something to do with surfing in Australia.  There's a sea of data metaphor in there somewhere, I think.

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