It's difficult enough for marketers to stay on top of the latest data about consumers, but reaching the right people in the B2B world presents a whole host of new challenges.
On Friday, Oracle unveiled what it calls the largest marketplace of audience data targeted specifically at brands that sell to other businesses using programmatic and data-driven B2B marketing techniques.
The new offering from Oracle Data Cloud includes more than 400 million business users and one million addressable U.S. companies, the company said. Factored into that mix are proprietary insights from Oracle BlueKai, Datalogix, and AddThis as well as data from Oracle partners Bombora, Dun & Bradstreet, FullContact, Gravy Analytics, HG Data, Infogroup, PlaceIQ, and TransUnion. Predictive analytics from Leadspace are included as well.
The data derives mostly from the U.S., but some international B2B segments are available, Oracle said.
"B2B marketers can now take advantage of more than 700 enhanced Oracle B2B audience segments, as well as a robust B2B audience marketplace boasting more than 4,000 pre-built audiences from partners," Oracle said.
The offering aims to help marketers align digital expenditures with campaign objectives and sales outreach, providing a regular flow of relevant and qualified leads from target accounts.
The move is likely in part a result of Oracle's $1.2 billion investment in Datalogix in late 2014, said Jim Wheaton, principal and cofounder with Wheaton Group.
Datalogix is one of four major cross-vertical "data co-ops" that focus on the acquisition, integration, and ongoing management of massive quantities of data about American consumers and businesses, Wheaton said via email. The others include Abacus, I-Behavior, and Wiland.
Oracle has long targeted the B2B market with sales tools designed to help organizations identify new opportunities, and it's been "very useful for targeting and territory planning," said Denis Pombriant, managing principal at Beagle Research Group.
"This marketing data provides the same kind of opportunity, and I expect there might be software add-ons to sell with it," Pombriant said. Either way, "having a massive, up-to-date data source should be a boon to many companies."
Of course, not all data is created equally. In B2B marketing, it's important to understand the company being targeted using data such as its SIC code and number of employees, but the bigger challenge lies on a different level, said John Coe, cofounder and president of B2BMarketing.com.
"The issue that bedevils us is who in the company are involved in the decision to buy our product," he said.
Keeping track of that kind of detail can be trickier than it is on the consumer level because there's no easy way to track employees as they move across positions and companies, Coe said.
"When consumers move, they file a change of address," he said. "With professionals, there's nothing like that."
In larger companies, more than 20 people may be involved in a technology-purchasing decision, Coe said. "The quandary is figuring out who are the key people, and are they accurately portrayed by your data?"
There are numerous sources of such data today, Coe said, but they vary widely in terms of their accuracy. "You have to know the ins and outs and strengths and weaknesses of various data sources," he said. "What I'd ask them is what kind of priorities do you give what lists? If one company is on two different lists, which data gets preference?"
Ultimately, it's up to marketers to choose the right data providers. "You don't sell to companies, you sell to people," he said. "The proof is in the pudding, so if you're thinking about using a new data source, check it out -- take a sample of say 100 records and try to verify them."