CES Preview: Picking the Right Data Provider

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Crafting a practical and effective data strategy is top of mind for business media and information executives. Sourcing the right data, taking control of that data and creating the right tech stack to power that data is part of the process.

The upcoming Connectiv Executive Summit offers a one-two punch to help chart your path, including SourceMedia chief data officer Christian Ward showing how to make a company “DataSmart” (see more on Ward’s four-step plan here) as well as Forrester principal analyst Steven Casey offering an exclusive look at a 21-point Forrester evaluation of B2B marketing data providers from Bombora To ZoomInfo in a session called Data Providers: How They Stack Up and Who Matters the Most.

In a Q&A with Connectiv, Casey (pictured) offers a preview of how he sees the veritable flood of marketing data providers shaping up as well as what potential customers need to look for.

Connectiv: Steven, can you give us a brief sense of how the sector of data marketing providers has changed in recent years? How has this grown in terms of sheer volume? Do you predict a shakeout (I’ve seen people talking about a collapse in the number of martech vendors for a while)? In the near term, what should we be prepared for with this sector?

Steven Casey: The proliferation of third-party data for B2B marketers has commoditized many basic firmographic and demographic data types — a trend accelerated by the same providers aggressively licensing their data to each other to maximize revenue and round out their offerings.  As a result of this commoditization, many vendors have expanded their capabilities to offer a wide range of value-added tools and services that solve specific business problems for marketers and sellers. This transition from tactical list provider to strategic data-as-a-service platform is nearly complete, with most vendors now supporting key use cases for marketing, sales, and data management, such as creating ideal customer models, enabling territory planning and management, and performing deduping and normalization. 

I’m not sure I’d call it shakeout, because as much as this market continues to see consolidation, it’s also attracting lots of new entrants.

Connectiv: Are there certain capabilities among these vendors that are starting to separate some from the pack? Are they moving toward some kind of differentiator?

Casey: I believe the vendors in this market have four possible paths forward: focus on a single or a few data types, provide the most data and complementary services, serve the needs of a single or few industries, or build a data-agnostic data management platform.  Niche vendors like Orb Intelligence and Bombora are doing a great job at the first strategy.  Companies like DiscoverOrg are pursuing the best-and-most strategy with a string of acquisitions.  And a number of vendors such as Lattice, Leadspace, and Radius are all pursuing the data-management path – going all-in on the customer data platform (CDP) opportunity.

Connectiv: What should prospective clients be looking at with these vendors?

Casey: When we advise clients on selecting data partners, we make two key points.  The first is to test for data accuracy and coverage in a real-life proof of concept.  This is the only way to ensure the best fit for their company's specific data needs. Many B2B marketers are familiar with this process, and we’ve found just about all the vendors are ready and willing to prove the value of their offerings before customers sign a long-term contract.

The second is to give up on the idea of finding a silver bullet. A big part of data providers' value comes from connecting the dots between the multiple data sources they aggregate (often from other vendors) to improve accuracy and generate more insights. In the same way, most B2B marketers end up using multiple data providers, finding the value of broader coverage to be worth the additional cost.  We believe this practice will continue for the foreseeable future.


Editor’s Note: WE ARE ALMOST SOLD OUT: The Connectiv Executive Summit takes place May 14 to May 16 in Charleston, SC. To register, click here. Our room block at the Belmond Charleston Hotel is sold out but we do have extra rooms at the nearby King Charles Inn for a special rate. To make reservations, guests may either call in to 866-546-4700, reference their dates and group name with agents or they can go online using this unique link - SIIA, enter their stay dates, click on “have a group code” and then enter "SIIA" for special rates. 

Matt Matt Kinsman is vice president of content + programming at Connectiv, the only association focused on the integrated b-to-b model—including publications, events, digital media, marketing services and business information. Prior to joining Connectiv's predecessor American Business Media in 2011, Kinsman was executive editor of Folio:, the leading information provider for the magazine industry.