It's The B2B Identity, Stupid

It should be clear by now that the premise of media targeting -- especially for programmatic -- has moved from inferring who or what a prospect is, to actually knowing who they are via some kind of explicit identity tracking. In the world of consumer targeting, that means acquiring and applying data along a strata from “probabilistic” to “deterministic.” Not surprisingly, B2B marketers have been on the same path, and today Dun & Bradstreet will announce a new system tied to its venerable "DUNS" identities, or Data Universal Numbering System.

What’s a DUNS ID? Think social security number for a business. Like a social security number, a D&B DUNS ID is a nine-digit unique number that companies register for so they can be authentically identified. It’s used by companies who register for incorporation and other legal statuses, as well as banking, crediting bureaus/ratings, etc., so not only is it indelible, but it’s also extremely accountable.

Not surprisingly, D&B has been working on a new method that enables B2B marketers to target businesses using this discrete ID, and the results so far are far more precise than targeting businesses using other conventional identity marketers, such as internet domain addresses.

To activate those IDs, D&B has created a new platform dubbed “Buyer Intent” that leverages machine learning and natural language processing to track and filter all of the unique web engagements and trackable conversations businesses have that can be associated with their identity in order to come up with early indicators about their business intentions that can be used to target them with products and services that have a high propensity of fulfilling their unmet needs.

The potential for this form of targeting is significant, but the first obvious use given the economics of B2B marketing is email.

In its initial trials conducted to date, D&B has found a 37% lift in email open rates using this method.

In terms of more generalized B2B advertising, it has so far found a 20% lift in ad spending and a 13% increase in conversion rates.

It’s not the first, and certainly won’t be the last method to leverage natural language processing to understand the intent of businesses -- or consumers -- and you should stay tuned for other announcements on that front shortly. But it is the first to be applied to a universal ID for businesses that is akin to a social security number.

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