Programmatic Advertising Tricks For B2B Marketers

As more B2B buyers favor online channels, targeted advertising is gaining traction as an important part of an end-to-end marketing strategy. In 2024, U.S. B2B marketers will spend a third of their budgets on digital channels, according to a recent study from Winterberry Group, with 42% spending on CTV and 39% spending on display — but I think both numbers should be closer to 100%.

Targeted CTV and display advertising are proven to help create brand awareness and move B2B buyers through the purchase funnel — if B2B marketers set up their campaigns correctly. There are several important best practices that can add up to creating much more successful campaigns, from data onboarding to campaign planning to measurement. 

Not All Onboarding Is Created Equal

One of the most popular tactics that marketers believe will help them through the depreciation of the cookie is to activate their first-party data. First-party data can be the most accurate, but it can lack scale, which can make many B2B marketers hesitant to lean into targeted advertising the way so many B2C advertisers do. 

CTV and display advertising are both great for targeted B2B advertising, but B2B marketers need the right approach. Working with data partners and identity resolution companies can help in several ways. For example, a data partner can provide access to third-party data that offers scale for early-stage awareness campaigns, while an identity partner can help marketers match their own first-party data to a partner to reach their audiences effectively on different channels. 

Marketers should ask a lot of questions to make sure they know what they are getting and what’s happening with their own data. A lot of data that’s available from onboarding partners tends to be individual B2C data, such as personal email addresses. A lot of B2B marketers see this as a hurdle because it tends to produce low initial match rates, but it can actually be used creatively to their advantage.

B2B marketers need to take a “B2B2C” approach that uses a privacy-friendly way to connect the dots across these data sets. Ultimately, connecting the two approaches can dramatically improve scale and enable a B2B marketer to buy on top websites and on larger CTV programs. Think of an insurance company targeting people watching golf based on a B2B2C ID graph. 

Make sure to understand the underlying match for CTV campaigns to target all identifiers a graph provider can offer, not just B2B emails. It’s important to note that CTV data is often available at the household level, while B2B marketers usually have individual level data in their own database. They will need to work with an identity resolution provider that has a graph that can connect the dots between the two to accurately target on CTV and get scale. Some identity resolution partners will provide marketers with the data behind the identity resolution to help them augment their own database and understand why match rates are high or low, while others will not. 

Making The Most Of Data Requires A Plan

However, I find that with the right use of both first- and third-party data, digital advertising can be a big performance driver, but it requires a good plan.

The user acquisition journey (from landing page to action) needs to be understood so that pixel implementation and targeting strategies can be planned out. That means talking about the full strategy with partners so that they see the entire picture from awareness to action. Then it’s possible to stitch together a variety of tactics that can add up to a complete media plan.

Combining third- and first-party data strategies can help B2B marketers take advantage of digital advertising at scale. For example, using third-party data is great for early-stage advertising, like awareness. First-party data can be a tremendous asset for B2B marketers looking to reach dormant leads and re-engage them. 

Many B2B marketers start their digital advertising with awareness goals in mind, but they need to better understand the user journey and the actions that a buyer takes. With those insights in mind, practitioners can align on larger campaign goals and set up the campaign to capture all the insights they need in order to help drive the top-of-funnel audience further down the funnel with other efforts.

Messaging matters: Unlike common email, search, website and social media content where there’s room for a paragraph or more, digital advertising needs to be clear and concise. The message needs to be well-crafted so that it delivers just the specifics needed based on the specific goal of that ad. For an awareness campaign, B2B advertisers should focus on impactful imagery and simple text. For a re-engagement ad, a specific benefit or product capability should be highlighted — nothing more. 

Creating successful B2B online advertising campaigns isn’t impossible. Even smaller B2B marketers can get a lot from a well-targeted campaign. Simply looking for a partner that can deliver the right audience at scale isn’t enough. Online advertising requires a thoughtful combination of first-party and third-party data, expert identity resolution and a well-coordinated campaign that combines different targeted messages for people across different stages of the buyer journey. 

Karl Hjartarson is the SVP of Digital Operations at Anteriad, a provider of full-funnel B2B marketing solutions.

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