What Is Cross-Device Targeting for B2B?

What-Is-Cross-Device-Targeting-for-B2B-lgAt Demandbase, we share industry news daily. Every now and then, an article or a post creates a wave of internal discussion. Back in April, a hot topic was whether or not B2B and B2C marketing are “converging.” The consensus (after much email dialogue) is that the two are not converging, other than potentially for brand marketing. But for good or for bad, B2C concepts often do find their way into B2B marketing conversations, which means they find their way into B2B product evaluation and potentially product development.

For example, Cross-Device was and is a hot topic in B2C. How do you identify and reach the same user, when they are coming to your website from a cell phone en route to work, a laptop at the office, and then their iPad at night? Plenty of articles online do a great job explaining why reaching the same user is important so I won’t attempt to do that here. But in a nutshell, marketers want to know that John Doe who looked at Converse kicks from one device is the same John Doe who might want to look at other Converse kicks on a different device, for effective ad retargeting.

Conceptually, Cross-Device makes sense in B2B. Why wouldn’t we want to share in that marketing goodness and reach our prospects regardless of whether they are on mobile devices or laptops? And, that’s how the product conversation started here.

“What’s our Cross-Device strategy? Feels like everyone is talking about Cross-Device.”

Much like the B2B/B2C convergence subject, emails proliferated and the topic was added to a weekly standing meeting. And we started scoping Cross-Device targeting, with an undisclosed assumption that identifying potential buyers across screens in B2B is akin to doing so in B2C.

But, as we started digging into the topic, we had to quickly remind ourselves that B2B and B2C marketing strategies are fundamentally different. In B2B, the goal isn’t to target ads at individuals but rather at key companies, or better said, a committee of influencers at your target accounts. If multiple employees from the same company have visited your website with some regularity, that company is more likely to turn into a buyer and/or it’s already down the funnel and you should be all over that opportunity. Whether that company is visiting from mobile devices, laptops, desktops, iPads, or wristwatches. Net-net, in B2B, Cross-Device means identifying the same company, across screens. Demandbase offers Cross-Device advertising at a company level.

Does that mean we’ll stop here and take Cross-Device at the user-level off our roadmap? Nope. We continue to explore the concept with key partners and more critically invest in our own proprietary technology.But the jury is still out for us as to whether applying probabilistic or deterministic models of user identity will ever meaningfully increase conversions in the B2B context.

We do believe that targeting ads to specific users within a target account can be valuable, e.g. with our B2B retargeting solutions where we reach specific users who have engaged in desired behavior. We also will be launching persona targeting soon, enabling Demandbase customers to reach visitors of specific profiles within target accounts. And we are very excited about our upcoming extended company targeting feature, which targets relevant B2B ads to decision makers wherever they go (be it meetings, cafes, or airports).

But back to the topic at hand. We’d love to hear your thoughts, B2B marketers. Is Cross-Device at the user-level a game changer in B2B? Or is it a B2C concept that has snuck over to the wrong side of this (non-converging) road?