An Interview with Anudit Vikram
BEYOND THE HYPE
Thank you for your time Anudit. Let’s start off with an easy question.
What is your role at Dun & Bradstreet?
Sure, my role is to drive the product technology and data sciences behind our
“Within the B2B space,
we see deterministic
data providers. Then
the data offerings can
be further classiﬁed
demographic, intent data
and so on. The space is
getting “fuzzier” as
more providers offer
ACCOUNT-BASED MARKETING (ABM) A PEEK BEHIND THE CURTAIN
digital efforts. Within our Sales and Marketing line of business we have been
building out our digital products over the last few years and that is what I drive.
My primary focus is digitizing our data assets and building products for digital
marketing, online advertising, or to use in the adtech ecosystem.
? The data provider and data management vendor space is getting more
crowded every day. How do you view and segment the different players
From the B2B perspective, the act of creating a data asset is governed by the
birth of the data—“where is the data coming from?” Most third-party data providers
Within the B2B space, we see deterministic versus probabilistic data providers. Then the data offerings can be
further classiﬁed as ﬁrmographic, demographic, intent data, and so on. The space is getting “fuzzier” as more
providers claim that they offer a wide variety of data.
out there are scraping websites or tagging pages or building relationships with
Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and other media vendors to get “the ﬁrehose” of transaction data coming
data coming through. They then build some models around that data and do some analysis to ﬁgure out
what data assets can be created. At Dun & Bradstreet we talk of our data as being “inherently deterministic”—
meaning that the data that we collect is provided directly from companies themselves or through transaction
systems that the companies are using. This data is explicitly mentioned as such. When a speciﬁc company
gives us data around revenue we do not run models to determine the revenue, the company has told us that
revenue information and we have other native validation points that we use.
2. ? With sales and marketing teams looking to data to be more effective, what is D&B doing to stand
out and maintain its leadership position?
First, we believe it starts with the underlying quality of the data itself. We feel that we are in a much stronger
position regarding that than anyone else. Secondly, a key factor is the scale of our data. We are
seeing in the B2B space that data scale is rarely available. It is different for us. For example, we have
-99+% coverage of all the businesses in the U.S. market. Today we have data sets and attributes on
have about 265+ million businesses that we track and have information on. So, we certainly have
data at scale.
Thirdly, we are strong at converting offline data to online assets. Typically, the drop off rate is high
during this conversion due to the difficulty in ﬁnding cookies, device IDs, and other online identiﬁers
data on, we can ﬁnd online data for about 16 million of them. What that translates to for the B2B
marketer is that in a U.S world of about 70 million business professionals (contacts), he or she can
reach about 42 million of them with D&B online data.
B2B market. In regard to ABM, since D&B is purely in the data business, we feel that we are uniquely
positioned to help account-based marketing programs become much more effective and efficient.
We can provide the data to help you become hyper-targeted and hyper-focused or identify exactly
what you want to go after. You may use the commercial intelligence and the attributes we have on
businesses through the D-U-N-S® Number (Data Universal Numbering System) or you may identify
speciﬁc contacts within businesses that you might want to reach with a speciﬁc message. However,
? According to 2016 D&B programmatic research, “65% of B2B marketers are buying advertising
programmatically, and 70% are using or plan to use account-based marketing (ABM) in 2017.”
24.4 million marketable businesses—and that is pretty much the U.S. market itself. Globally we
to associate back to companies or individuals. Of those 24+ million companies that we have offline
Does D&B see ABM as an important market?
Yes, we see “account-based marketing” as a label identifying a hot button space within the overall
we are not an ABM campaign provider like Kwanzoo.
Keep in mind, in the B2B space, we have been supporting strategies such as account-based marketing
for quite a while. We’ve been identifying businesses, accounts, and contacts to help our customers
have been doing this forever. Only now there is new technology that helps package these activities
into something a little bit different under a new moniker—account-based marketing.
have targets for brochures, events, webinars, or some other lead generation effort. It seems like we
3. ? You’re right. The holy grail of B2B seems to be able to identify every company and individual
We believe that a unique persistent identiﬁer is of paramount importance. You ﬁgure that an average enterprise,
B2B deal spans about seven departments in an organization and involves 14 to 17 people. Those people
are interacting with you via website, email, events, and phone. The close rarely happens at an online
stage in the process. Being able to analyze and measure a campaign with all of its touchpoints and
contacts can be cumbersome. You need to pull all the contacts that came from the same company.
You need to measure the effectiveness of email, direct mail, events, phone calls, social media, and
more. You need a token or identiﬁer that will cover all of those channels. We think that the D-U-N-S®
you review cross-channel marketing reports and data. It doesn’t matter who you are buying your
These are the companies that are truly interested in you.
I agree. We are seeing the same thing. We do believe that ABM is so much more interesting now
because technology has the capability of enhanced cross-channel and multi-channel marketing.
That is exciting as no enterprise ABM program can be fully successful through just one channel.
Unfortunately, those marketers who have been focused on lead generation typically look to leads and
form ﬁlls. It is harder for ABM marketers to assign key performance indicators (KPIs) and measure
performance. Attribution and reporting across those channels is not that straightforward. It gets
complicated as true B2B marketing requires both online and offline activities to drive opportunities
and revenue. We believe that marketers need a universal identiﬁer that can be used to track online
? Yes, D&B is striving to be best in class for data in the same way that Kwanzoo is looking to be
best in class for ABM display and retargeting. While we agree that many marketers have been
doing a variation of ABM for years, we are ﬁnding that many have a hard time converting their
attention from leads to accounts and from form ﬁlls to engagement.
and offline attribution. To us, it is the D-U-N-S® Number.
business user with a unique persistent identiﬁer across online and offline channels. Can you
go into more detail about D&B’s thinking around that?
Number best ﬁts that need.
If you use D&B data, all of our cookie information ties back to D-U-N-S® Number. We can tell you which D-U-N-S®
Number visited your website, which ones opened your email campaign, etc. As long as you can tie every
interaction with somebody to a D-U-N-S®, you are essentially tying it back to a company. So, you can
track interactions with 15 different people from the same company as interaction with one company
15 times versus interaction with 15 different people. That difference gives you the insight you need as
data from or what attributes you use, we can show you which D-U-N-S® interacted. So, if 1,000
people saw your ad and 100 clicked through, we can show that those 100 came from 10 companies.
4. ? So, does this D-U-N-S® identiﬁer approach work across all channels including work addresses,
home addresses, and cookie-based and IP-based formats?
D-U-N-S®. As I mentioned earlier, we also have cookies and device IDs that are tied back to D-U-N-S®.
So, in most cases, if you come online at work, we can look at that work IP address and tie you back
to a D-U-N-S®. If you go home and log in, we will most likely have a cookie that will tie back to your
company. What makes us unique is that we tie the cookie back to the D-U-N-S® and we do not give
the D-U-N-S® to any other data provider.
Yes, we have found that lookalike modeling does work in B2B but the model is only as good as the
quality and quantity of data that goes into the model. More often than not, B2B models tend to rely on
smaller data sets. That does not hinder us. With our “strategic proﬁling” product, we can take a
customer list and see which customers are working well for you—and not working well for you. We then
overlay that group as a suppression ﬁle against our known business universe and will come up with
“proﬁles” (connection of companies) that look like the customer list you gave us.
? Lookalike modeling is a well-known strategy to ﬁnd additional targets in B2C, does it also work in
B2B such in areas as expanding target account lists? What is D&B doing in this area?
5. as the quality and quantity of data put into them. I am sure that the smart people working on them will
only get better. I truly believe in the concept but I feel that we are a long way from being mature yet
in that space. On a scale of 1 – 10, we are barely touching a two or three.
? There are more and more predictive tools coming out to help with account selection in ABM. How
We see the predictive tools space as an interesting one. There are many companies coming out with
machine learning models, specialized models for doing predictive analytics and lead scoring, and so
on. The theory is fantastic. The promise is fabulous. However; I don’t think that anyone has “cracked
the code” for providing a scalable and viable product. These predictive data models are only as good
The reason why we come up with so many proﬁles is so that you can gain insights from a variety of
different perspectives. Proﬁle A may be companies that are similar to your list in customer lifetime
value. These companies may have a high lifetime value but be few in number. Proﬁle B may have a
lower lifetime value but has more companies in it. You then have the option of creating a very
account will give you less money but you will have more accounts. Or you could do both. By default,
we provide ﬁve proﬁles with our strategic proﬁling product so most of our customers apply different
marketing tactics to each proﬁle. Currently we offer these proﬁles at the account level. We are
investigating various privacy issues and concerns to see if it makes sense for us to also offer the
proﬁles at the contact level.
does D&B view the whole predictive space?
How do you envision data products and data usage evolving over the next one to two years in the
world of B2B and ABM?
I spend a lot of time thinking about that question. I truly believe that data is the fuel that drives
campaign efficiency, marketing ethicacy, and so on. The way that data will become more recognizable
6. Yes, that is a problem. Data is usually at least one step removed from the end result. Let’s say you run a
display advertising campaign and you do not get good results. The ﬁrst inclination is to blame the
data as being bad. In reality the campaign could have been bad. You targeted the wrong sites, you
Unfortunately, no matter what providers say, the only way to ascertain the value is to test the data
through display advertising campaigns, etc.
? Thank you for your time today Anudit. We have just one more question. We are hearing that ABM
customers are having a hard time distinguishing data provider products and services as every
is when you are able to attach more value to it. That will happen when data providers are able to
take a data asset and translate it into something that actually returns dollars and cents. Today, in
most cases, data assets are two steps removed from the end result we want to achieve. It is only
when the value can be tied directly to the data that the data will become more prevalent.
data provider is promising data scalability, data quality, etc. How do you think prospects can
differentiate one data provider from another?
were not spending enough money for the media (which can get expensive quickly), etc. It’s tough.