Bizo (www.bizo.com) has just announced a major new executive hire – Frannie Danzinger as Director of Market Development – and a fantastic growth of over 130% in 2011. We have spoken to Russell Glass, Bizo’s CEO, about business audience targeting and how it supports Bizo’s recent growth.
Otilia Otlacan: Bizo has recently been ranked the #4 fastest-growing company in the Bay Area, in an industry that is insanely competitive. What are Bizo’s main growth drivers and what sets it apart from the competition?
Russell Glass: We’ve really seen our business grow, entering 2012 at an $18M+ run-rate and 6 consecutive months of accelerating growth. There are a few factors fueling the kind of hyper-growth we’ve experienced since we started the company in 2008. At a macro-level, we’re all consuming most of our information online so it’s inevitable that advertising dollars would flow online to keep up with the eyeballs. Across the 400+ brands that we support, we’re seeing a very tangible and significant shift of dollars online where ad spend can be better targeted and more effectively deployed, measured and tracked.
Against this backdrop, Bizo’s focus, platform and the team we’ve built have separated us from the pack. We uniquely focus on helping marketers reach very specific business audiences across the web. Given that business professional audiences are among the most affluent, educated, and influential online, this generally makes Bizo not only a top performing channel for any B2B brand but for any B2C marketer looking to reach high-net-worth audiences.
And, the platform we’ve built is fueled by business demographic data on more than 80% of business professionals in the US, which gives our advertisers the kind of precision and reach they can’t get elsewhere.
But, the real key to our success is our people. We’re approaching 60 employees, about double the staff we had this time last year. Hiring the right people to support this growth isn’t easy, but I’ve had as my consistent top priority to make sure we maintain this A-level team and strong, positive culture that we’ve built which, at the end of the day, is probably our most potent differentiator.
Otilia Otlacan: It’s all about audience targeting these days, or so it seems. What kind of publisher is advantaged in this ever changing media buying landscape and what can publishers do in order to facilitate audience buys on their properties?
Russell Glass: Audience targeting data is of course a win for marketers, but is arguably just as valuable and creates huge opportunities for publishers of just about any shape and size. Over 2,000 business publishers have partnered with us to get a better handle on the demographics of their own web audiences and to leverage our platform to enable their advertiser clients to more precisely target audiences on their web properties – and across the web. This is creating an upsell opportunity in every conversation a publisher has with an advertiser, and is increasing and diversifying a publisher’s online revenue streams.
Otilia Otlacan: Your company, Bizo, specializes in reaching and engaging business professionals. What are some of the challenges you are facing when working with this audience?
Russell Glass: The key to a successful display campaign is putting the right message in front of the right audience – at scale. Since we’ve now collected and organized rich, anonymous demographic data on over 100 million business professionals, our platform has the inherent scale to drive success for most marketers looking to reach different segments of business audiences. It’s only when a marketer’s target audience becomes overly granular (e.g., CFOs in the Pharmaceutical Industry in Wyoming) that there may just not be enough unique individuals of a certain profile for audience-targeted display advertising to be effective. That can be a challenge because the marketer knows we can do it, but we have to push back and tell them that there’s simply not enough scale to be worthwhile.
Otilia Otlacan: For our curious hardcore ad ops readers, please tell us something about the ad platform and the tools you are using and about the typical day in your ad ops team.
Russell Glass: The platform that ties all of our activities together is BAMP, our proprietary Business Audience Marketing Platform. We recently moved our ad server of record to AppNexus from DFP. In fact, all of our advertiser campaigns and managed publisher inventory are also run through AppNexus, and our primary source of RTB inventory is also AppNexus. We use Simpli.fi for keyword retargeting and Adap.tv and BrightRoll for pre-roll inventory.
For billing, pacing, and reconciling we use a home-grown application built on salesforce.com’s Force platform. We call it the Silver Bullet.
To ensure and monitor our advertisers’ brand safety, we use a combination of a blacklist of domains (4 years’ worth of domains we’ve seen that we don’t want our ads on), AdXpose and Proximic brand safety segments.
As with most ad ops teams, there is no “typical day.” We try to staff our team with smart people that really love solving the problems that come along with online advertising. Each member on the team has to be well versed in trafficking and buying RTB media on multiple platforms, creative QA, retargeting and conversion pixel placement, campaign optimization, and pacing and reconciliation.
Otilia Otlacan: I’ve filled in my bizographic information at http://www.bizo.com/businessProfessionals/your_bizo_cookie and noticed that the ad inventory for international audiences appears to be rather limited. Do you have plans on chasing non-US audiences and if so, do you have any partners lined up?
Russell Glass: We currently reach business professional audiences with scale in U.S., Canada, and the UK. We plan to build out our non-U.S. audiences more aggressively in the future since many of the brands we support are global, so there is a clear opportunity to extend our capabilities into other regions. That said, we believe we’re still just scratching the surface of the market opportunity for Bizo in North America and that remains our focus today.
Otilia Otlacan: Last but not least, is there anything else you like to share with us?
Russell Glass: One area you’ll see us diving into more aggressively this year is working with consumer brands to reach the business audience. In addition to brands using Bizo to target high-net-worth individuals, we’re also seeing increased demand from consumer brands who want to reach businesspeople in general. With more disposable income, this audience is more likely to purchase many different types of consumer products, from cell phones to financial services.
To this end, last year we collaborated with comScore to marry Bizo’s unique bizographic data with comScore’s insights into the online behavior of consumers. The comScore Bizo Index gives marketers additional insights into Bizo’s audience segments as desirable and effective consumer purchasing segments. For example, a marketer for a telecommunications company can use these insights to target their ads at Bizo’s “Small Business Professional” audience, which is shown to be 161% more likely to purchase mobile phones and plans online than the average U.S. Internet user. Here are some other interesting data points: our Tech Professional audience is 580% more likely to buy computer hardware online, and our Marketing audience is 112% more likely to visit airline sites.
These are just a few examples – we’ve uncovered powerful connections between consumer behavior and Bizo’s business audience segments across a wide range of product and service areas, so we’ll be working to further explore these opportunities this year.
Bizo is how marketers reach and engage business professionals, wherever they travel online. Bizo can precisely target more than 100 million professionals around the world, including more than 80 percent of the U.S. business population. This unprecedented reach and targeting gives marketers cost-effective access and insight into business professionals – the most valuable online audience segment. Simply put, Bizo knows business audiences. More than 400 leading brands including AMEX, Monster, Salesforce.com, Microsoft, and FedEx count on the precise display ad targeting, social media measurement, and deep audience analytics that the Bizo Audience Marketing Platform provides to successfully execute their branding and direct response initiatives.
For more information on Bizo, or for a free look at the Bizographic make-up of your website audience, visit www.bizo.com.