Bizo on how publishers need to leverage audience understanding into marketer insight
September 5, 2012 - ABM member Bizo is experiencing rapid growth. Last month the business audience marketing company ranked 86th on the Inc. 500 list, which names the fastest-growing private companies in America. The company reported a three-year growth rate of 3,036 percent ($12.3 million in 2011), and in the first half of this year alone, Bizo has nearly doubled its expected annual revenue to total $20 million. Behind the company’s success, says CEO Russell Glass, a b-to-b marketing veteran, is launching the right model at the right time. ABM chatted with Glass about the b-to-b marketing industry, including how to make Facebook ads work, the key to successful marketing initiatives and his advice for publishers.
ABM: What do you think is the key to your growth?
Russell Glass: We were fortunate with the timing of the launch of this company. We launched in 2008 and the market was just starting to think about audience targeting. And there's a continued rapid growth of digital marketing spend compared to offline spend – there’s a lot of dollars shifting very quickly and we're benefiting.
ABM: What did you learn from your tenure at ZoomInfo that helped you launch this company?
Glass: I was running marketing [at ZoomInfo] and the goal was to reach audiences to create awareness and generate leads. It was incredibly hard and expensive to target those audiences. There were some publishers and sites out there that reached those audiences but they were extremely expensive. The second thing was that search was very difficult in the b-to-b space. We would get so many consumer leads that we would sift through and throw away. The biggest insight was that as a b-to-b marketer you had to be way more efficient in reaching the right target with the right messages in order to be successful. The whole concept of Bizo is providing rich and hugely scaled audience data to marketers to reach the right audiences in the b-to-b world, and serve the right messages to those audiences.
ABM: Tell us about your services. What are you doing differently?
Glass: We have three core services, and one is ad targeting. We help b-to-b marketers target the right audiences online. We reach about 85 percent of the business audience in the United States, nearing 90 million uniques every month.
The second thing we provide is analytics. We can provide a marketer with a tremendous amount of data about what's going on with their site, on their landing pages and who's seeing their ads. So if Google Analytics is providing what's happening, our digital analytics is telling you who is performing those actions -- what industries you are having the most success with, what job titles you are seeing the most success with and if certain campaigns are reaching the right people.
Finally, we provide an ability in the social marketing space to target users on Facebook, on Linkedin, on Twitter, with targeting that hasn't been available before in the b-to-b market. LinkedIn provides some pretty rich business targeting, but reaching the right people on Facebook or Twitter has been very difficult, and Bizo's solving those problems for marketers today.
ABM: A lot of people have been saying Facebook ads aren't been working. Do you think it's a targeting issue?
Glass: That's exactly right, and frankly we were one of those groups saying 'they don't work' because we tried a year ago and it didn't work. However, we now have the ability to target and the results are phenomenal. So it's gone from 'it doesn't work' to one of our best channels for driving leads just because we now have the ability to say 'serve this ad only to the executives in small businesses' or 'only to healthcare employees,' and that's a game changer. Facebook provides this incredible scaled channel in terms of reach but now with targeting you don't have all the waste.
ABM: Is this something Facebook has changed or is it on your end?
Glass: Both. Facebook is now allowing their impressions to be targeted via datasets like Bizo, and Bizo is really the only player in the business audience space. Facebook has so much rich consumer data, but on the b-to-b side, Facebook has so little data. It's a potential competitor to LinkedIn -- you now can reach the same audiences that you reach on LinkedIn but with more scale on Facebook.
ABM: What's the key to a successful business marketing initiative?
Glass: It always comes down to really understanding who you're targeting. If you can fully understand the persona, you can get way more targeted in the messaging. The second area is understanding the business-buying process. Unlike consumer, it requires risk mitigation for the buyer, as well as buy-in from others at the buyer's organization. Think of it like this: If you went into a store and saw Coke and saw "DMG Cola," you would go right for the Coke because you know what it tastes like and you've never heard of DMG Cola. But if you saw an ad that says "DMG Cola: Tastes like Coke but completely organic" you might make a difference choice. Well, that's the consumer world.
In the b-to-b world, if your boss asked you to throw a party and buy soda, even if you saw that ad, you'd still buy Coke. In the b-to-b world, there are other factors: You are now responsible for making sure the party doesn't stink, and there's a lot more risk in bringing DMG Cola back, which no one has heard of. If it ruins the party, that's going to reflect on you. So in order for DMG Cola to convince you to choose them, they need to provide you with case studies: other peers, that you trust, have used DMG Cola successfully and have thrown the best parties. They need to provide you with references. That's going to mitigate all the risks as a b-to-b buyer.
ABM: You also do a lot of white papers and case studies for publishers. What advice do you have publishers?
Glass: A big one is admittedly a little nuanced: targeting, measurement and reaching the right audiences. Publishers have been really reticent to provide [marketers] with these figures and with good reason – it changes the business model. If you're a publisher and an advertiser comes to you and says "I know that you cater to healthcare, but I only want to target the executives in the healthcare world," publishers look at it as a risk because they could lose scale by only targeting executives of a certain ad buy.
Secondly, marketers are saying, "I need you to help me measure this. I need to know what's driving success." Again, the publisher thinks "I am Emperor with no clothes," but the publisher is in an advantageous position in this market -- they have a deeper understanding of their audience than anyone else. They should be thinking more about how to leverage that understanding and how to bring marketers more insight.
ABM: What's next for Bizo?
Glass: Today, we're primarily focused in the midmarket and above, those are that are in the top 5,000 to 10,000 in the b-to-b space. [On Sept. 10], we are going to be launching a product that we think is going to be a game changer for SMBs in b-to-b. We'll be giving a lot of the same capabilities to the small-to-medium business market to be used on a self-serving basis. We've had a lot of experiments in the SMB space, trying to figure out where Bizo can have value, and we think we have nailed it. We can now provide a lot of the things we've provided larger companies, in a full-service mode, to smaller companies.
By Elizabeth A. Reid