By 2020, programmatic is expected to account for 86.3 percent of digital display advertising expenditures, which, according to eMarketer, makes programmatic synonymous with digital advertising in general.
If you’re a B2B marketer, though, you might be thinking, “So what?”
Programmatic display might not seem like an effective or even appropriate way to reach your target buying groups because of the long-held belief that business buyers have their business-buying hats on at the office and their consumer-buying hats on in the off hours. But as we all know, that line is blurred and blurring.
Business buyers don’t just visit LinkedIn and Bloomberg when they’re at work; they visit sports and weather sites, personal accounts on social networks, and make purchases and handle other personal tasks while on the clock. And even if they are lounging in a hammock on vacation, the right glimpse into something they’ve been thinking about at work might turn out to be that serendipitous a-ha moment.
Once you move beyond concerns that programmatic is only effective in “contextually relevant” environments, you can explore all the ways that technological and industry changes have made programmatic a powerful targeting tactic for B2B.
Here are four reasons to at least evaluate programmatic as part of your marketing mix.
Reach and scale to target audiences
You can now use programmatic to reach target audiences with more precision than ever before. This is due in large part to an increasing openness to sharing data (that is, to monetize it), which means that firmographic and intent data are available in a way they’ve never been before.
Robust firmographic and intent data means that programmatic can offer unprecedented scale for reaching target audiences across thousands of different sites. Again, without restricting display to only those platforms or sites that we assume business buyers would only visit while at work, programmatic offers many more opportunities for target audiences to engage with your advertising.
In recent years, concerns about ads showing up on sites that might not align to your company’s values have made B2B marketers hesitate about using programmatic and take conservative measures when they do. But tools for safeguarding against unwanted adjacency effects have also improved. Now, you can make sure your ads aren’t showing up next to content that is risky for your brand, and you can verify the authenticity of ads and the viewability of their placements.
Opportunity to test diverse ad formats
Programmatic isn’t just digital display. It supports a diverse set of media options including traditional display banners, native ads, video ads, sponsored content, out-of-home ads and connected TV. So, multiple platforms are available to choose from and mix-and-match to your campaign objective.
Native, video, and sponsored content align well to the to the complex storytelling required for most B2B campaigns, and this is in fact where half of respondents in the B2B Marketing Advertising and Marketing 2018 report said they were investing advertising dollars.
Get insights about the sites that drive performance for your targeted audience
Because you can target across a vast variety of sites, you can better determine precisely which sites perform well for each of your target audiences. And not just the site, but which site by time of day and whether or not those patterns result in conversions.
For instance, you might see a spike in conversion rate across certain verticals of sites on weekends. That lets you know to allocate more budget during those times to increase conversion volume.
Programmatic really opens up the ability to analyze engagement across different kinds of sites and other situational parameters so that you can begin to really isolate the sweet spots to hone in on and understand more precisely how and where your audience engages.
Integrated martech and ad tech is key for precise targeting and tailored messages
For programmatic to pay off, though, your martech and ad tech need to be joined at the hip and walking in lockstep. Doing this will take some investment in time and expertise, up front, to make sure the systems are set up with appropriate definitions and accurate measures that you can use to identify and reach key audiences at meaningful points in their buying journey with content accurately customized to both. If you don’t do it, you might try programmatic to lackluster results and dismiss it as ineffective channel.
Brands that have martech and ad tech connected have been able to get deep audience insights that help them get the most out of their investment in programmatic. But it also adds nuance to the buying journey that is useful to marketing’s effort to make more relevant content and sales’s effort to have direct conversations about what matters to prospects.
Programmatic is less of a buzz word than it was a few years ago—it’s something we are all aware of—but it has taken a backseat to other channels that have appeared to B2B marketers to have more direct relevance to business-buying audiences. Bringing it to the forefront for consideration offers you an opportunity to scale your performance and reach your target audience in more precise and diverse ways than you might think. And the big one: It will increase sales velocity over time. So, give programmatic a look as part of your paid media mix.
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