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Not all Intent data is created equal – understand the differences and how to get started

May 1, 2019

As adoption of Intent data grows amongst senior B2B marketers, the lines between different types are becoming more blurred. In order to get the biggest return on Intent data, it is vital to first understand the nuances of varying sources, collection methods, and activation techniques. Before treating all Intent data the same, read these comparisons that Bombora’s VP of Partnerships Dale Durrett outlines.

Without a doubt, the increased use of Intent data is a positive thing for marketers, as it allows them to do more effective outreach with less 'noise'. It shows the behaviors of their prospects across first and third party data sources, and plays a major role in moving them down the funnel. However, the various types of Intent data and the signals that come from it are not always the same, and they should not be treated as such. Crafting your approach to using Intent data can begin with your campaign goals and an understanding of the entire intent landscape.

What is Intent?

At a high level, Intent data is observations drawn from web users’ behavior that can indicate what products and services in which they are interested. Take online content consumption for example: when users engage with online web materials, it represents their interest in the topic that those materials are about.

More specifically, marketers can employ ‘intent monitoringwhich observes trends in this content consumption over time, amongst a group of web users. When there are spikes in frequency or intensity of these trends, Intent signals will correlate that to increased intent. Thus, indicating the propensity to make a purchase decision and proving to be very valuable to marketing and sales decision makers. Bombora monitors consumption with a few important engagement metrics factored in, such as scroll velocity and dwell time on a page, which is packaged into actionable data points in Company Surge® .

Achieving scale with Intent data

When we describe behavioral data monitoring across the web, most marketers correlate it to third-party data. On the contrary, any form of behavioral data can be used to derive Intent signals, which includes first-party sources. The difference between the two types of data, however, is the ability to achieve scale.

As Dale explains it, “Examining this data is akin to looking in your backyard: what kinds of signals do you have on customers, both existing and prospective, and how can that drive marketing efforts? Site analytics and marketing automation deliver this view.

Your backyard, of course, is not as large as your whole neighborhood. Third-party Intent data, which comes from an external source, is more varied and akin to getting a bird’s eye view of the whole city.”

The three main sources where Intent data can be gathered include Data Co-ops (such as Bombora's B2B Data Co-op), stand-alone publishers, and Bidstream.

They each have their own benefits and drawbacks, however, because Co-ops are made up of first-party data gathered from many partners (making the collective a third-party source), they offer massive scale. On the other side of the spectrum are stand-alone, single publishers, that offer very strong signals from their own web properties but are often limited in scale.

In a category of its own is Bidstream data. Bidstream is collected by ad exchanges across biddable online advertising inventory and surely has massive volume. However, it is increasingly falling out of favor due to the GDPR compliance risks and publisher platforms (SSPs) have restrictions against commercializing derivative data without direct-user consent. We know, that’s a mouthful; you can do more research on Bidstream vs. Bombora Intent data for more detail.

Activating Intent data

The final differentiator between Intent data types of course lies in putting it to work. Dale advocates for combining first and third-party Intent signals to achieve optimal results.

Why? Third-party Intent data helps to paint the larger picture. It identifies when prospects are actively in research or buying cycles for a product or service based on their behaviors across the broader web. More granularly, the accuracy of first-party data shows specific brand preference. If prospects visit your website, you know they have interest and awareness of your products and services.

Programmatic efforts can be deployed to the target market that third-party data proves is interested, a tactic of Account Based Marketing (ABM). It can further be validated by seeing which of those accounts eventually make it to the brand’s website.

If combining first- and third-party Intent data signals seems a bit complicated but you’re still intrigued, make sure you’re asking the right questions of potential Intent providers. Also, make sure that sales teams and their existing prospect accounts are being considered in the process.

Have a look at the several key questions Dale outlines in his article, to help you get started. For more tools to activate Intent data and further your education, surf the resources in our knowledge base.

Parts of this post were first published on Demand Gen Report.