The hype around creating data businesses is at an all-time high in the B2B media sector. With display ad revenue falling off a cliff and lead-gen business models becoming more challenged, there is a clear focus to diversify digital revenue further, and data models are a clear player in that picture.
But, as I talk to colleagues in the sector, many are trying to find their way on the data front. One obstacle in becoming a data player lies in the fundamental way media brands have their databases set up.
Most B2B media players tout that they have in-depth insights on users through their database. The problem with this approach is that it does not align with the way many companies want to start their data journey. While many marketers will look for one-on-one connections with people, the process of gathering data and gaining market insights often starts at the company/organization level.
There are many reasons why this is the case. On one hand, most of the data searches by a marketer start with trying to understand general trends across a market sector or region. While this data can be obtained at the individual level, it’s much easier to see these trends at the company level.
On the other hand, marketers are getting highly targeted at the companies they want to reach – at Edgell, we had a large technology provider come to us that wanted to reach only 300 companies at one point. While this can be done at the individual level, it’s much easier and more accurate to achieve with a company table structure in place.
Making Company Data Come to Life
Clearly, the lack of a company structure in today’s databases is hurting media brands in their data business launch efforts. But, how do we overcome this obstacle?
There are several ways to start. First, you need to shift your team’s thinking and culture. While capturing info on an individual is important, you have to put a structure in place where you’re equally collecting data at the company level.
Beyond the cultural shift, here are some tips that will help make your company table structure come to life:
Tip 1: Define what you need to capture
By adding a company table, you have a chance to bring valuable data elements to your database. So, you should use this as a chance to bring in data elements that you may not be capturing today. For example, you can bring in things like industries the company covers, overall company revenue, divisions, and other elements that you may not have in your database today.
Tip 2: Align data
The addition of a company table also allows you to align data across individual records. For example, in an audience-driven database, you can have one employee at company X that puts down divisional revenue while another puts down group revenue. Through the company table, you can use publicly available info from Company X’s financial reports or from tools like Hoovers to align all users from that company under a single revenue bracket.
Tip 3: Start with your top companies
Once you’ve built the foundation for the company table, you should develop a strategy for rolling it out to all of your audience members. But where do you start? The 80/20 rule is a good solution here. Take your Top 50 or Top 100 companies and roll the company table out to these organizations first. Likely, you’ll have the most contacts from these companies. That will allow you to create a good sample size for data collection/alignment and also a good way to build a plan for future migration.
Unlocking the Power of the Company Data
Once you’ve started supporting and collecting data, the next trick is putting the reporting tools in place to get value from the company data. Even more important is to have your company reports in place so your customers can leverage them for running market analysis reports, market trend reports, and more.
There are a number of options that can help on the reporting front. To me, one of the most powerful is the integration of a visualization tool like a Tableau or a Good Data. Visualization tools let you pull in different data sets, align them and create reports that can show the combination of data cross companies. This is extremely powerful when dealing with company data because you see trends around companies based on revenue, business/industry, and more.
There is no doubt that many media brands are struggling to find their niche in the data business. While not the end-all solution, leveraging a company table in your database architecture is one way that you can better position your organization for data success.
Rob Keenan is the President of Keenan Media, LLC, a consultancy firm providing digital, content, marketing, and audience support to the media sector. Rob has worked in the BtoB media sector for 20 years, most recently at the VP of Online Media for Edgell Communications. You can contact Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org.You can also follow him on twitter @robkeenan11 or connect with him on LinkedIn.