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ABM Nirvana: Reaching the Buying Committee at your Target Accounts

Presented by: Peter Isaacson, Chief Marketing Officer, Demandbase

The once elusive “buying committee” just became more accessible. With AI and sophisticated intent data, B2B marketers can easily identify, target and reach these critical buyers and influencers, and deliver the right content to them at the right time. In this presentation, Peter Isaacson, CMO at Demandbase discussed:

  • What the past, present and future of B2B advertising looks like
  • How marketers can turn their advertising into a growth engine
  • Why personalizing your message is so critical to deriving value at the top of the funnel

Sessions Notes

Gracing the stage adorned in a Kyle Lowry Toronto Raptors jersey, fresh off losing a bet with Randy Frisch, Isaacson entered throwing around Golden State Warriors NBA championship shirts. Though admitting defeat, he showed confidence in his team and himself and brought laughs to the audience (even though he wasn’t much of Golden State fan in the first place). Peter’s presentation was informative and compelling, with images and humor adding color to what the future of B2B looks like. 

The History of Digital Advertising 
Digital Advertising holds so much promise for B2B advertisers, yet has failed to live up to that promise. 

Digital Advertising Through The Years 

  • The 90s 
    • When digital advertising started there was something called “site direct contextual targeting,” so you’d go to The Wall Street Journal, but then you wouldn’t know who was reaching. 
  • The 2000s
    • Persona-based targeting meant, as an ideal, that instead of  just connecting with individual sites, you could connect with ad networks, so you could focus on the audience and reach people that really mattered—but this didn’t work, 90% of the budget was wasted—and you got the wrong person at the wrong company at the wrong time. 
      • Neilsen found that generally only 31% of impressions were delivered to the right target. Reaching the audience just didn’t work, fundamentally. 

DMPs & Ad Tech Vendors

  • Go to data management platforms and see how you’re segmented/persona-based targeted. It is not accurate.
  • But we pay for this!
  • A little secret about ad tech vendors:  “They sit on a throne of lies!” —Buddy the Elf
  • DNV study shows that only 10% of B2B demand generation professionals feel their paid online targeting is effective.

Other Methods

  • We know persona marketing is flawed. 
  • Now we have onboarding CRM data.
  • Now we can take all our contacts and advertise to them. 
  • But it doesn’t work cause of the onboarding process. (Matching the cookies from your offline (your CRM system) to your online (so you can do digital advertising) and during the process, even the onboarding vendors admit that 70 to 85% percent of contacts are lost. 

Some will say it’s not about persona, it’s really about job function - which doesn’t work either. Here’s why: 

  • For example, within a CRM Database, we have a demand base of five unique titles for individuals but people have gotten clever about the titles that they’ve used (with creative LinkedIn names like Chief Heart Officer instead of HR Professional, or the Content Ninja instead of Account Coordinator). 
  • If, for example, Dell has 300 directors of IT, and only 10 are interested in the cloud-based security that you’re trying to sell, by targeting the job function, you’re not really reaching who you need to. 

Intro To Account-based Targeting 

  • Five years ago, you could target through IP addresses the companies that could impact your business the most, but you’re not necessarily zeroing in on the people you need to
  • TODAY is B2B advertising nirvana
  • Buying Committee Targeting
  • Reaching the buyers and influencers that matter to your business (preferably at the beginning of their buyer journey)
  • Before we didn’t have the technology to make sure we’re reaching to the right businesses, but this is necessary to know what we’re looking for. Now we can connect the individuals doing the research to the companies we want to target

AI and intent to reach the buying committee consists of: 

  • Total addressable market: everyone you could sell to 
  • Target account list: everyone you should sell to 
  • High-intent accounts: accounts that should be prioritized right now

How Does This Happen?

  • By organizing contextual behavior and scale: 
  1. We have to define and expand our keywords.
  2. We have to monitor the content interaction, connecting individuals up to the companies, to know who is doing the research and in what frequency/consistency. 
  3. These interactions can be ranked and prioritize your bidding. 


  • With ABM, you don’t want to measure the result and impact based on tired metrics we’ve used before. 
  • CTRs or CPMs have zero correlation to any business impact. 
  • We can go to leading measures like: 
    • Reach: percentage of target accounts reached in the campaign (should be 90% or more)
    • Engagement: percentage of target accounts engaging on site (30%) 
    • Efficiency: cost per account engaged on site 
  • Compare ABM results against other investments
  • A lot of our customers will focus on display ads, but also try to do other sorts of ads on other channels.  However, each channel has a different indication of success, so we have to aggregate all of the information together and look at the metrics together. 

ABM Tiers 

Investment & ROI per account




1-50 accounts

Expand awareness across very large accounts
Drive expansion through cross-sell messages


50-200 accounts

Drive awareness to target accounts
Drive tailored messaging to each account


200+ accounts

Drive initial awareness in target accounts
Delivered messaging based on firmographic: size, vertical, etc. 

Key Takeaways 

  • We have to organize context and scale. 
  • CTRs and CPM have zero correlation to any business impact. 
  • We have to aggregate all the information from our channels into one place.