B2B marketing has been going through a digital transformation for over a decade now. But during the pandemic, digital platforms became nothing less than critical to the survival of businesses, allowing them to continue connecting with buyers and consumers.
This need was, and continues to be, reflected in the shifting patterns of ad spending. In 2019, 71.0% of B2B advertising investments went to traditional media outlets. By 2024, however, that share will drop to 51.0%, and trend lines suggest this number will slip below 50% for the first time ever in 2025. Even as staples of pre-pandemic B2B activity have returned—think trade shows, conferences, speaking engagements, etc.—budgets for digital have still been steadily increasing.
Here’s how those industry shifts translate into B2B advertising trends in 2023:
Workers are returning to US offices at the highest rate since they were temporarily shuttered in 2020—a movement playing out against a backdrop of falling infection rates and intensifying “back-to-office” efforts from business leaders. There are geographic nuances to this, though, and corporate policies vary considerably. Case in point: East Coast professionals are returning at higher rates than their West Coast counterparts—research shows traffic to offices in downtown Manhattan increased by 53% over the 12-month period ending July 2022, while offices in downtown Los Angeles only saw a 21% visitation growth in that time.
What does this mean for advertising? In short, targeted audience strategies and an omnichannel media presence will be key to reaching business decision-makers wherever they’re working.
With digital channels like video, connected TV, and podcasts now seeing mass adoption, how can B2B advertisers continue to innovate? One way is to focus on new ways to distribute branded content at scale. LinkedIn Document Ads, for example, allow advertisers to promote long-form content directly in their audience’s LinkedIn feeds (and they’re compatible with lead generation forms). Savvy B2B advertisers should also keep a watchful (but far off) eye on emerging technologies—are there opportunities to experiment with your B2B products and services in extended reality or the metaverse? Use cases there could include virtual events and conferences, remote assistance, and immersive training.
With an economic slowdown in the forecast, spending plans should account for growth while focusing on optimization and resilience. B2B media buyers should look to invest in more relevant and reliable customer data to help sharpen audience targeting strategies and shift budgets into higher-yielding tactics with proven value. The outlook for 2023 will ultimately demand technology that is fine-tuned for efficiency, which equates to increasing the use of machine learning and algorithmic decision-making.
Want to learn about some of the macro trends affecting digital marketing more generally? Check out our 2023 Trends Report to stay ahead of the curve as you plan for the year ahead.