Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Big Willow Links Intent Data to Devices to Companies...Another Flavor of Account Based Marketing

With interest in account based marketing (ABM) skyrocketing past even hot topics like intent data and predictive marketing, it’s no surprise to find debates over the true meaning of the term. I recently had a discussion along those lines with Charlie Tarzian and Neil Passero of The Big Willow, who argued that account based marketing must extend beyond reaching target accounts to include messages based on location and intent. As you might suspect, that is exactly what The Big Willow does.

What The Big Willow does with intent data is interesting whether it’s the One True ABM or not. The company tracks which devices are consuming what content, associates the content with intent, and then associates the devices - as much as it can - to companies.

The Big Willow uses data from media it serves directly and from the nightly feeds that ad networks and publishers send to media buyers.  This tells it which devices saw which content.  The system relates the content to intent by parsing it for keywords and phrases related to The Big Willow clients' products and services.  Devices are associated with companies using reverse IP lookup for IP addresses registered directly to a specific business.  If the IP address belongs to a service provider like Verizon or Comcast, The Big Willow applies a proprietary method that finds the device location based on IP address and infers a match with businesses near that location. That’s far from perfect but can work if there is just one business in a particular industry near that location. What makes this worth the trouble is it can double the number of devices linked to target companies.

The location-based approach clearly has its limits.  But it’s important to put those aside and go back to the fact that The Big Willow is tracking consumption by devices, not cookies.  This matters because cookies are increasingly ineffective in an era of mobile devices and frequent cookie deletion.  It’s also important to bear in mind that The Big Willow is storing consumption of all content for all devices it sees, meaning it can analyze past behavior without advance preparation. This lets it immediately identify prospects who have shown interest in a new client’s industry.

The Big Willow uses this historical data to examine a client’s current marketing automation and CRM databases, distinguishing companies showing intent from those that are inactive, and also finding active companies that are not already in the corporate database. This analysis takes about two weeks to complete. The Big Willow can then target advertising at those audiences, including Web display ads to companies that have not yet visited the client’s own Web site. This extends beyond the usual ABM retargeting of site visitors. Of course, since The Big Willow is capturing intent, it can tailor the ads to the buying stage of each company.

As a final trick, The Big Willow can also track which devices have seen the client’s ads and then use a pixel on the client’s Web site to find which of those devices eventually make a visit. This captures many more connections than the traditional approach of tracking visitors who have clicked on a company ad – which the vast majority of visitors do not.

In short, The Big Willow provides an interesting option for business marketers who want to do intent-based account targeting. It probably won’t be the only tool anyone uses, but it is worth considering it as something to add to your mix. Pricing ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 per month based on specific deliverables and services. The company was founded in 2011 and has dozens of clients.

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