Imagine how much easier marketing would be if you could read the minds of your buyers and potential leads.! You’d know exactly when to message them, where to push that message, and how far along they are in the customer journey. Unfortunately, we don’t possess Professor X’s telepathic powers. 

But there is another tool at our disposal - intent data. This data provides marketers with signals of a lead’s intent, suggesting whether they are actively looking for a product or service or simply researching. But how do you get access to this data? Through intent targeting providers.

Third party vs. first party

According to Spiceworks, there are two types of intent signal providers. So, how can you make sure you’re getting the right signals? Third party and first party providers get their data from different sources. (Personally, I think you can include 2nd party data as a third type)

Third party aggregators utilise vast publisher networks to tag their content. They then determine intent based on interactions with these pages on the various properties.

Meanwhile, first party signal owners use their own content and audience relationships to link buying patterns or beahviours with interactions on their properties.

Like most instances in marketing, first party data ownership is better. You will be getting the intent signals direct from the source. Not only does this provide you with a more accurate view of in-market readiness but, as you own the platform that built it, you will have a better understanding of how weak or strong that signal actually is, without any potential embellishments.

Source of the signals

So, what, and where, do intent signals come from? There are lots of signals that require measurement. These can include:


Unless you’ve fallen down a YouTube rabbit hole, you’re not going to search for something online that you don’t intend to find. A common intent signal comes from search derived traffic. If someone searches for the best cyber security software for a medium-sized business, there’s a strong suggestion that they’re researching prior to a purchase.

However, through your own use of search engines, you’re probably well aware of the fact that people don’t just search because they want to make a purchase or to research prior to buying a good or service.

Editorial content

Articles read online can also indicate at what stage a buyer is at. If they’re reading generic articles about the current state of cybersecurity, they might be starting to conduct research. If, however, they’re starting to read content about specific products, they’re probably going to be a lot further through the journey.

The great thing about editorial content shared on your website is that you can control the context and ensure that you are publishing articles that appeal to buyers at various stages of the purchasing cycle.

Advertiser content

People only engage with ads when it appeals to them. Clicking on an ad or downloading a whitepaper can be strong signs that a buyer is conducting purchase research and considering vendors.

User generated content

B2B buyers place a great deal of importance on reviews and recommendations. But you’re not going to interact with user generated content if you’re not actually interested in making a purchase. A buyer probably isn’t going to stumble across a forum discussing a cybersecurity solutions by accident or for the sheer fun of it.



The first thing to remember is that not all the signals have the same strength. Searching for a particular topic or downloading a piece of content could suggest a higher intent than simply reading an article. Yes, that article might discuss your products, but they might just be reading that content because they’re interested in AI, not because they’re looking to buy AI solutions.

And this is why it's important to look at more than one channel. You can’t expect to get a true understanding of what your buyers and potential leads are doing on the whole if you only focus on one specific area. Sure, they might be interacting with blog posts you share on your social media. But what else are they doing?

We understand that signals have different strengths and our first party data helps us to determine true engagements. To find out more about how we measure and generate intent data, give us a call today!