Over the past several years, the B2B advertising landscape has evolved dramatically. Perhaps the most notable shift is the rapid increase in digital ad spend, from just 29% of total B2B ad spend in 2019 to 47% in 2023. That’s a growth of more than 62% over just a few years!
This digital transformation is due to a variety of factors, including the lasting impacts of the COVID pandemic, a new demographic of younger B2B buyers, prolonged economic uncertainty, and the explosion of both time and advertising dollars spent on digital channels.
Amidst this digital revolution, B2B marketers face a challenging task: Find the right balance of channels and targeting to reach key consumers with the right message at the right time. To help B2B marketers as they approach this challenge, we called on Sean Cleary, Basis Technologies’ VP of Integrated Client Solutions, to answer a few key questions. With nearly 15 years of experience spanning campaign management to client and media services, he brings a wealth of knowledge to the B2B advertising space.
Read on for Sean’s top insights for B2B marketing in 2023:
Sean Cleary: To run a successful B2B campaign, marketing teams need to think about what their unique story is and how they’re going to tell it. Once they’ve got that nailed down, the focus shifts to getting that story in front of the right audience on the right channel.
In the last few years, we’ve seen this big shift to digital channels. And with these digital channels, there are now opportunities to hone in on targeting so you can get your message in front of the right audience for your specific product or service. Take, for instance, TV. Many teams might think of it in the more traditional format of buying in mass scale. Or radio, where you’re paying for ads that are reaching very broad audiences. But now, with digital channels like CTV and digital audio, we can leverage former mass broadcast formats into more targeted, efficient, and relevant activations. In other words, we’re not wasting money on scale here.
Beyond CTV and digital audio, there are a few other digital channels that B2B marketers are really leaning into to get their specific story in front of the right audience. Digital out-of-home is one, especially now that there are more screens in more places. Thanks to this explosion of DOOH screens, B2B marketers can now reach target audiences in contextually relevant environments. Take, for example, having a presence on a screen in a hospital elevator. For a health tech company, this would be a prime spot for reaching decision-makers at hospitals who might be looking for new technology solutions.
Another is social, but this is a channel where it’s especially important to think about the specific message you’re telling via a specific platform. For instance, many teams want to leverage TikTok, and that’s great. But TikTok is a fun, quirky environment, and the same creative that works on, say, LinkedIn, isn’t going to be as effective in this space. So, you may be able to connect with the right people on TikTok, but if you’re not connecting with them in the way that they are wanting to be engaged with then it’s not necessarily worthwhile to do.
SC: Effective segmentation and targeting. The focus on these has increased a lot in the past few years, likely because digital channels have exploded and advertisers have realized how much more specific you can get with your ad spend thanks to digital segmenting, targeting, and measuring capabilities.
For B2B, in particular, advertisers are often looking to connect with a very specific group of people, and they need to give specific messaging to that audience. Teams want to spend the right amount of money and have the right impression thresholds as they reach these audiences.
To do so, it’s important to have really rich audience data, and to be able to slice, dice, and activate it in a strategic way. Because there are a lot of people B2B brands could target—but what’s important is focusing in on specific audiences, ensuring ad spend is aligned with those people you want to target, and not wasting ad spend elsewhere.
SC: One thing B2B teams should be paying attention to is keeping their data clean and organized. Depending on who you’re partnering with and where you’re running ads, some folks will promise you leads. But the question is: Do you really want other people handling your potential customer data? Do you have confidence that they have the security and compliance in place to be able to manage that data responsibly?
This is important when it comes to privacy compliance, as well as regulation of your own customer data. Because when we think about recent developments in regulation, we know that consumers have the right to ask anyone who has their data to not use it anymore. So what happens if you got a consumer’s data from someone who got their data from someone else? How are consumers able to opt out?
For folks trying to get those leads, it’s beneficial to capture them directly (ideally, through a form fill on your own website). If you capture the leads yourself, you have a lot more control over the ability to qualify those leads and guarantee your practices are privacy compliant.
Interested in working with experts like Sean to level up your B2B marketing efforts? Connect with us and learn how our media strategy and activation services can ensure your B2B campaigns are telling your story on the right channels and in a compelling way.