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Making programmatic work for B2B | B2B Marketing

Joey Henderson presents a deep dive on how marketers can add real value through their programmatic channels

Programmatic advertising has seen explosive growth in recent years, now threatening to overthrow traditional buying models for TV and Radio.

Though B2C brands have embraced this trend, the B2B vertical has seen slower adoption, largely down to the fact that planning B2B campaigns for programmatic is much harder. While B2C products often have millions of potential customers, B2B products have relatively few, and targeting these audiences is challenging. There are, however, ways to tackle these challenges, before giving up on the idea of programmatic display for B2B altogether.

Balancing audience and environment

A major misconception in B2B programmatic is that environment is everything. Brands often insist on running over limited industry whitelists (as opposed to a wider range of brand-safe domains) and this has the potential to cause more harm than good. Although hitting the right publications is key, running over 10-20 domains is also extremely limiting. 

This approach is like shooting fish in a barrel – if the barrel is in a lake surrounded by other shoals of fish. Sure, you might catch a few easy leads, but due to the limited reach, you’re missing out on wider opportunities.

It also assumes your audience are robots who only browse the web to visit business publications, when in fact they’re proven to browse sites in the property and travel categories just as frequently.


So how do you cast a wider net without being generic?

  1. Leverage your first party data via buying platforms to understand where existing customers browse online, and adapt targeting appropriately.
  2. Use audience targeting (by industry, seniority, etc) to expand whitelists, while still reaching relevant users.

Capitalising on semantic targeting

Speaking of getting environment right, an underrated tool is semantic targeting – using keywords to target relevant articles.

This is another way to increase the range of publications without losing relevance. Building a custom set of keywords relating to your product, industry and competitors, you can target articles across the web, relating to trending industry topics.

Instead of targeting a whole business website, why not target just the articles that matter, along with a host of, otherwise overlooked, domains containing relevant content?

Account-based marketing for programmatic:

ABM has taken the B2B world by storm. But largely due to misconceptions about what is possible and how, many brands still struggle to integrate their wider ABM strategies with programmatic. Among others, when planning ABM for programmatic, some areas to explore are:


  1. Third-party audiences

    : There are now multiple data companies who partner with business publications to match online identifiers to account lists and these provide opportunities to build custom ABM targeting segments.

  2. IP targeting

    : This approach utilises IP range targeting to reach users at their offices during work hours. IP lists can be procured from third-party vendors and then targeted via buying platforms.

  3. Leveraging CRM data

    : Salesforce, Oracle and Axonix, among others, are now activating CRM data via programmatic channels. Many B2B brands are sitting on a wealth of CRM data that can be segmented by account and targeted through connections with the right partners.

None of these strategies alone are silver bullets for programmatic success but by experimenting with new targeting techniques and making the most of first and third-party data, B2B brands will greatly increase their results, taking full advantage of this often undervalued and underutilised channel.


Unleash the potential of programmatic in B2B

The world of programmatic remains one of mystery for many a B2B marketer – but it needn’t be this way. As an increasing number of B2B brands tap into the potential that programmatic advertising has to offer, marketers need to ensure they know what it is, what it can do, how they can benefit, and what the pitfalls are. This comprehensive guide provides all this and more.


Perfect your programmatic

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