Thursday, September 10, 2015

Data Plus MarTech: HubSpot and Demandbase Join the Race

There were two industry announcements this week that were unexpectedly related. The first was HubSpot’s announcement yesterday that its CRM offerings would now include access to a 19 million account prospecting database. The second was Demandbase’s acquisition of data-as-a-service vendor WhoToo, which offers its own set of 250 million profiles relating to 70 million business professionals.

The WhoToo acquisition marks a big step in the continued evolution of Demandbase, since it's a change from targeting companies to targeting individuals (although DemandBase still won’t sell you their names). More precisely, WhoToo aggregates audience data from multiple sources and makes it available for selections based on company and individual attributes. The company does know the identity of some individuals and will use these to target email and Web advertising to names you provide. It will also let you market to audiences in those channels without providing their names. This is a nice extension of Demandbase’s existing account-based marketing capabilities. What makes WhoToo really special is it has the technology to access its data with the split-second speed needed to purchase display and mobile ads in real time.

The addition of individual-level targeting puts Demandbase on a more even plane with LinkedIn, which of course already sells advertising to its own huge database of more than 350 million profiles. The WhoToo deal won’t fully close that gap, but it does help to keep Demandbase competitive. (I’m sure Demandbase would argue it has its own advantages over LinkedIn.)

In this context, the HubSpot announcement is interesting mostly because it too recognizes the importance of giving marketers audience lists without acquiring the names for themselves. You could argue this makes HubSpot a player in the super-hot Account Based Marketing category, although they didn't use the term.  If they are, it's ABM-lite, in the sense that HubSpot will give CRM users basic profile information, usually including a phone number, but doesn't offer contact names or email addresses. It also pulls recent news stories.  This is pretty consistent with HubSpot's historic aversion to unsolicited outbound contacts.  The company does approach the line by giving enterprise users an option to find other people in their company who have a contact at target accounts and ask for a warm introduction.

On the other hand, HubSpot also announced integration with LinkedIn for paid ad campaigns and said a Google AdWords integration is in beta, which are definitely in outbound territory. Naturally, HubSpot says its LinkedIn and Google campaigns will be giving potential buyers information they want, so they are not at all like that bad old interruptive advertising that HubSpot has always opposed. No, not one bit.

Anyway, the point here is that both HubSpot and Demandbase are adding data to their marketing technology, something we’ve seen in other deals like Oracle buying Datalogix. There are still plenty of stand-alone data vendors, especially when it comes to B2B prospecting lists. And there are plenty of vendors who combine prospect data with predictive – including LinkedIn itself since its recent FlipTop acquisition. But I think we can add “data plus tech” to the tote board of martech horse races.

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