Demand-as-a-Service - the Holy Grail of branded demand

Barb Mosher Zinck Profile picture for user barb.mosher January 15, 2024
Summary:
Insights on Integrate’s new media arm, Pipeline360, from President Tony Uphoff.

grail

Integrate recently launched a new media division called Pipeline360, incorporating its Lead Generation Marketplace (publisher marketplace) with multichannel, full-funnel global campaign management. This move separates its SaaS demand generation platform from its marketplace services. 

Tony Uphoff was hired to run Pipeline360 as President. Uphoff has extensive leadership experience running media companies such as Thomasnet.com, UBM TechWeb, InformationWeek, and Business.com, as well as launching new companies and helping build brands. He shared how the new media division will work, why it's needed today, and the challenges marketers face in getting high-quality leads.

B2B pipelines need better leads

Pipeline360 and Demand Metric surveyed B2B companies in the US and Canada in November of last year. They found that 46% of respondents felt the quality of their current leads is low to neutral, and 42% said the quantity of leads is insufficient. At the same time, 80% say new, qualified leads are mission-critical/urgent. 

So, there’s a problem. Companies need more high-quality leads, and they need them now. This is a goal of Pipeline360 and aligns with Integrate’s “precision demand marketing” theme.” It’s a “Demand as a Service (DaaS) offering that combines targeted display and content syndication with a comprehensive marketplace of global publishers.

Uphoff first met Jeremy Bloom, CEO of Integrate, in 2013 when he was working with business.com. He sees the marketplace as an interesting model that has run under the radar for Integrate until now.

Pipeline360 currently works with 20+ suppliers in the marketplace, providing targeted display and content syndication, and Uphoff says there is a long waitlist. These suppliers are fully vetted and data-compliant, with data privacy looked at from every angle, from federal to state and global regulations. Supplier inventory is then measured and put into the marketplace, where Pipeline360 creates demand for that inventory. 

Uphoff argues that although this isn’t the only marketplace available, he sees it as unique for a couple of reasons:

  1. It is a well-spring of first-party data that keeps coming.
  2. It leverages an algorithm that can cut horizontally across suppliers based on optimization. So, the marketer doesn't have to select the suppliers; it's performance based.

Pipeline360 drives branded demand

Marketers are reaching a tipping point in terms of technology, with the number of options growing every year (it went from almost 10,000 in 2022 to over 13,000 as of this writing). Putting another technology into the stack that doesn't support their needs is something most don't want to do. 

Uphoff believes that marketers aren't looking for another technology; they are looking for performance, including:

  1. High-quality leads at scale
  2. Data governance and compliance
  3. Actionable analytics, optimizing campaigns for performance
  4. Tangible outcomes, demonstrating they are driving pipeline

Pipeline360 can help marketers surface these high-quality leads through a combination of targeted display (top of the funnel) and content syndication (middle and bottom of the funnel) across the marketplace. It brings together the brand and demand, what he calls the Holy Grail of branded demand.

Think about it. Most lead gen results sent to Sales teams result in contacting people who don't know your brand. Maybe they have downloaded a white paper or ebook to learn something new but didn't notice who created the content. Uphoff says that aligning the two - display and content syndication - means that there is brand awareness when Sales engages. It also shifts Sales teams to more of an assistance role where they can provide additional content instead of constantly pushing for meetings and demos. 

Why is this important? Because we now know that prospective buyers only contact sales once they are 70% into the purchase journey and already know which vendor they will go with by then. This means the role of SDRs and BDRs is shifting to one of a supporting role, making sure buyers have everything they need to help them make the right decision. Uphoff says: 

Brand advertising kind of got a bad name once the Internet came around because everything became performance-driven. And I'm a fan and a purveyor of performance-based marketing, but I think, to a certain extent, the pendulum swung way too far in that direction, and I think many of us struggle with how do you do brand in a digital-first world. And it's not as easy as people thought. 

And our belief is that, particularly in B2B markets where products are expensive, highly differentiated, and complex, that the integration of those together is the way to go about it as opposed to, well, I'm going to do a brand program. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Then, I'm going to launch a demand program. Wait, wait, wait, wait. Then I'm going to put people on the phone to call. Those funnels are collapsing. And so you need to do that, brand, I hate to overuse the expression, branded demand. But that's what comes to mind.

Are there concerns about supplier demand?

Pipeline360 doesn't work with traditional media as suppliers. Instead, it works with niche B2B media that are advocates for technology and vertical markets. This type of media is less fragile, and the concern with trust is low (unlike traditional media).

So, yes, it’s a niche, but it’s a very large niche, and there are no signs of it diminishing.  There’s also the point Uphoff makes that technology is critical in every business today:

I think certainly, for the foreseeable future, the single biggest differentiator for almost every business in the world today is their deployment of technology. So it doesn't matter if it’s the dry cleaner you use or it's a fortune 100 company that you do business with. It is about technology today. And what's not slowing down is technology innovation and technology purchasing.

In the context of the innovation of technology, the need to cover that innovation and help prospective buyers understand it, and the interest and curiosity amongst buyers about that technology. The other thing is the vast majority of people we're talking about are professional buyers. These are folks that are compensated by the decisions they make around specific technologies, their purchase of that technology, and their management of it in a business.”

Pipeline360 is focused on technology, but that doesn't mean there aren't other adjacent markets where their capabilities are needed, Uphoff suggests, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and financial services. 

My take

Uphoff is the right person to run the ship

If you look at Uphoff's work experience, you can see why Integrate tapped him to lead its new media business. Uphoff grew up at the intersection of technology and media. He ran magazines like Information Week, PC Mag, and PC Week and has seen almost every technology transformation over the last twenty-five years. 

He's also had a career that spanned both sides of the development of the Internet, so he understands how digital has impacted the way media works today, and how brands leverage digital channels to acquire and engage with customers and prospective customers. Uphoff has used that knowledge to help launch new companies and drive growth for brands. 

With Pipeline360, Uphoff can ensure that the right publishers come into the marketplace and that a mutually beneficial relationship exists between publishers and brands. As a technology media expert, he knows how to pay attention to trends and how those trends impact media. But even more, after talking to him, it's clear he knows how to watch and analyze markets to see opportunities. This means that branching outside of tech is not a question of should they, for Pipeline360; it's a matter of when. 

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