In our last article in our B2B marketing series we reviewed the different targeting options in search and discussed the critical factors that will help keep CPA as efficient as possible.

This week we’d like to focus on programmatic and the targeting options that can help elevate any B2B performance. In a previous article we’ve outlined why (un)Common Logic thinks programmatic is a must-have channel and why we chose StackAdapt as our preferred vendor. Here’s a quick visual recap:

graphic showing the advantages of stackadapt vs other programmatic options

Programmatic can have a wider and deeper reach across display, audio, video, CTV, and digital out of home while being more efficient with your overall paid media budget. Its greatest advantage over Google Display Network or some other options is in targeting. Every programmatic platform provides marketers access to enriched and consented third party data that lets the brand reach new prospecting audiences based on profession, title, and even company.

Why Don’t More B2Bs Use Programmatic?

The problems most B2B marketers face when dealing with programmatic are two-fold:

1. Too many options

Programmatic is great in providing a lot of ways to reach audiences, but it can be overwhelming to decide on the best strategy without spreading your budget too thin or creating a campaign management challenge.

2. How to measure success

Programmatic (unless doing remarketing) is a higher funnel activity that is not expected to drive direct response conversions which makes it hard to attribute success.

Let’s discuss each one.

Which programmatic targeting options work well for B2B?

1. Geo-fence (conferences, airports, etc)

An advantage of programmatic is the ability to pinpoint locations and create a geo-fence. While this has limited reach and limited scaling opportunities, when done right, you can have a touchpoint with a highly relevant traffic while they are in the location and even target them after they leave.

Targeting individuals for B2B can be effective for:

    • Conference attendees
    • Major hospital areas or colleges
    • Airports

2. Contextual

This is the oldest method of targeting on display. Instead of targeting users, the objective is to target content (either article, video, audio). The issue with using contextual programmatic targeting is scale. In particular for B2B, there will be a limit to how much relevant content exists in the marketplace.

The biggest advantage of this method, of course, is that the user is exposed to the ad at the best time possible while they are reading, watching, or listening to relevant content.

3. Lookalike audiences using first party data upload

Third party cookies are nearly gone, but using programmatic to find prospecting audiences based on your customer match is here to stay. Programmatic platforms have access to millions of data points and an ability to create lookalike audiences across different channels.

4. B2B lists from third party vendors

Tap into your unique B2B audience using the various data providers that every programmatic platform has access to by selecting targets based on criteria like profession and title.

5. Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

ABM has picked up steam in recent years for B2B. Trying to target different touch points in the organization vs. single individuals is key as in most businesses, there are several decision makers and influencers.

Paid social through LinkedIn is already a popular way for B2B to reach their ABM audiences. Programmatic is an additional way to do just that.

While LinkedIn likely has the most reliable business data, ads’ visibility is limited to when your target users are on the platform and for the most part carries a high cost per click. In contrast, programmatic has the ability to reach users across channels and networks at a more affordable price point.

Which Channels Should B2B Marketers Test?

When it comes to choosing a channel in programmatic, it is important to note that every programmatic platform will recommend a multi-channel approach to reach audiences across networks and in multiple facets.

However, budgets and ad creation resources need be taken into account before launch as each network will need extensive testing and ads will need to be refreshed continuously to avoid fatigue, especially with a smaller audience.

  • Display and Native

By far the cheapest option from a CPM perspective and the one that is most cost effective as an ad creative. Using static or gifs will require less bandwidth and budget from your team to produce.

With creatives, testing several variations is critical. Use gifs and testimonials to help the viewer visualize the product and what it’s like to use it.

  • Video and CTV

Video is harder to produce on your own, particularly if you want to use testimonial videos, but there are several platforms like Creatopy that can help source stock videos with editing capabilities. Videos should be the preferred method when your product or service can benefit from a deeper engagement (typically those with a longer buying cycle).

  • Audio

Audio, and for B2B, preferably podcasts, should be used to reach audiences when the product or service isn’t particularly visual and the benefits and pain points benefit from a more descriptive format.

  • Digital out of Home (DooH)

DooH should be reserved for combination with geo-fencing. This allows for targeting specific locations and showing on digital “billboards” instead of targeting the individual’s device.

How do we measure success for programmatic?

As we discussed in the series, B2B brands have to play the long game when it comes to marketing. Programmatic is no exception. Marketers should not expect to drive immediate direct response from these activities.

Nevertheless, It is crucial to understand the contribution of programmatic to the best of your abilities.

As an immediate gauge, analysts should always look at the quality of the traffic the site is receiving from programmatic.

You must be able to answer questions like:

  • How much time are the visitors staying on site?
  • How many pages did they visit?
  • How was the interaction with the site?
  • Are there return visitors?

Over a longer time scale and most importantly, incrementality must be measured via a match market test.

The main 2 questions that need to be answered then are:

  • Does running on programmatic positively impact our business (leads, MQLs, sales)?
  • How much does running on programmatic positively impact our business (leads, MQLs, sales)?

That being said, every B2B should run multiple tests in programmatic, as we have found there is a path to success for each, and each one is different based on business model, goals, audience, etc.

Programmatic provides a multitude of opportunities to reach your target market in more than one way; however, the tests must be carefully designed and managed or lead to waste.

Now that we’ve covered programmatic, the next article in our B2B digital marketing series will discuss the importance of social media and lay out the strategies, tactics, and pitfalls for B2B marketing.

Contact us to talk about your B2B marketing efforts and how our (un)Common approach can help!