Beat Big Data with Deep Data
Big Data killed the value of unique B2C audiences before we called it Big Data. It's been years since someone selling cars has needed to advertise on a car enthusiast website to reach car buyers. Now auto ads follow car buyers around the internet like yellow-jackets at a barbeque.
B2B publishers still have a chance to maintain the value of their readerships, but not unless they make the effort.
The vast majority of what we now call Big Data has been collected about consumers. Members of our household, education level, where we live-all that is out there about everybody, accurate or not. This is what powers real-time bidding (RTB) exchanges and retargeting. Data is readily available at prices so cheap it has driven B2C ad rates through the floor.
For the past few years purveyors of Big Data have sunk their teeth into B2B data and have had trade publishers in their crosshairs. Fortunately for B2B publishers, that task is not so simple. When categorizing us as consumers, identifiers like age and income are easy to fit into data fields. But take the term "storage" for example. An IT buyer uses server racks, an oil executive uses tanks and retailers use warehouses. Try sticking those in one field.
The diversity and depth of B2B data buys publishers time by setting the bar higher, but not much time. Google has been competing in the B2B space forever; Bizo is retargeting to your readers and LinkedIn has the largest, most nuanced and up-to-date database of all. What can you do when all the forces of the internet are stacked against you?
Your built-in advantage is the ability to dive deep, so let's call this Deep Data. You have the focus the others do not. Your editorial content covers the niches and nuances of your industry. Your oil industry audience reads not just about tank storage, but whether they are below ground, above ground, on trucks or ships. Retail readers know the difference between warehouses and distribution centers.
Online you have multiple opportunities to collect data more immediate and richer than any cloud aggregator. Every time a reader registers to read content or download a white paper; when they attend a webinar or register for a conference; when readers buy a book or report; sign up for a newsletter or subscribe to your magazine - these are all opportunities to build a deeply valuable database. That is literally having your finger on the pulse of your industry.
A problem I see is most publishers keep all of this valuable input in different silos. The fulfillment vendor manages subscription records, usually separate from the email service provider which manages opt-in newsletters. Ecommerce sales and conference registration is almost always done through systems unrelated to either. Lead-generation sales most often is a function of your advertising department and the names are captured by yet a different silo.
Now may be a good time to take inventory of how many data silos your company maintains. Where can you combine? Time to go Deep.
Andy Kowl is a journalist and entrepreneurial publisher with more than 30 years developing, marketing and growing publishing companies. He is senior vice president of publishing strategy for ePublishing Inc., the leading enterprise publishing system (EPS) provider which manages content, audience data, workflow, newsletters and e-commerce for hundreds B2B online publications. He helps publishers increase reader engagement and response by integrating behavioral data with contextual content, and shows them direct ways to monetize the results. Andy writes the B2B Beat blog for Publishing Executive magazine. His background in B2B includes publishing, editing and/or owning magazines and information products covering specialty retail, horse breeding, real estate, credit unions, Wall Street compliance and wireless technology.