Why Did Demandbase Build Its Own Exchange Bidder?

Louis Moynihan, our VP of Product Innovation, recently wrote in AdExchanger about the power of the custom bidder. He outlined some frontiers that were and could be disrupted by custom bidding solutions. It prompted me to research how and why Demandbase decided to create its own bidder and how that has impacted the way we fit into the ad tech landscape.

When Demandbase was founded in 2007, an eternity in the ad tech space, I was working for a large B2B data provider that partnered with the upstart. The way Demandbase described how they targeted companies and used B2B data was different than anything in the market at the time. The philosophy was innovative and very ambitious but from the outside, it seemed like a group of mad scientists building a cool piece of IP targeting tech that fixed a problem no one had (yet).

It turns out that Demandbase made the decision to build a custom bidder after searching for an off-the-shelf bidder and being frustrated that the ability to target by IP was not supported. At the time, it didn’t make sense to the generic DSPs. Marketers targeting businesses were hesitant to buy programmatic and the DSPs were investing where the scale was, which B2C had. If Demandbase wanted to realize their vision, it had to build a bidder from scratch.

Fast forward to 2016. I left that B2B data provider and joined Demandbase. One of the main reasons was their feature-rich custom bidder. The platform has allowed Demandbase to focus on issues that drive success for B2B advertisers: the shift away from cookies, the need for B2B Marketers to reach a wider buying committee and Account-Based Marketing (ABM).

Our network processes between two and three billion IP requests per month and our correlation engine cross references these requests against signals from first and third party data to update our database in near real-time. Each data point is verified against internal and external databases to make sure the IP connects to the right account. Demandbase can identify 97% of the companies you care most about with total coverage in key categories (100% coverage for Fortune 1000). Other B2B advertising companies have seen the advantages and jumped on the B2B targeting bandwagon but their choice of unreliable public databases and lack of verification puts them at a disadvantage. Compared to the public registry which is usually maintained by a low-level tech contractor with neither the time or incentive to keep the entry up to date, our data is better by orders of magnitude.

Another benefit of our proprietary data, equal in importance to accuracy, is reach. Regardless of data source, every competitor uses a generic DSP that was built for B2C. This means that their ability to reach key decision makers is hamstrung from the very beginning. We pass our superior data straight through to our custom bidder ensuring that there is no loss in data, which allows us to reach more of the decision makers in your target accounts. Our custom bidder is tuned and calibrated to only look at business audiences and ignores the 95% of traffic that is consumer.

Having a custom bidder, we were able to drive leadership in a growing category of marketing, ABM. We found that instead of working to target just an individual, B2B advertising benefits from targeting the entire buying committee. When targeting groups, the philosophy of advertising shifts to ABM, a method that has grown in popularity due to new tools that scale the ability to reach groups of decision makers efficiently. It turns out that targeting individuals is not the best way to target ads to a business.

The foresight to build a bespoke bidder that addresses the shift away from cookies, the need for B2B Marketers to reach a wider buying committee and Demandbase’s dedication to ABM has paid off. We are able to amplify the utility of our proprietary database by integrating it natively into our bidding process. The foundation that those early Demandbasers built has allowed us to iterate and innovate today at a speed that a white-labeled solution would not be able to tolerate. We are continually adding advertising and workflow features that enhance and transform the way marketers attract prospects. This IP targeting philosophy, which seemed unnecessary years ago, now allows for many more domino features that would only come by taking the road less traveled. B2B Marketing as a whole is stronger today because there is at least one custom bidder dedicated to disrupting and accelerating the B2B Advertising landscape.