Two-Thirds Of B2B Marketers Are Using Programmatic Ad Buying And Are Planning To Increase Their Spending In 2017

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Nearly two-thirds of B2B marketers are currently using programmatic ad buying to procure online advertising and they are planning to increase their spending in 2017, according to a survey by Dun & Bradstreet and Adweek BrandShare. Surprisingly, the survey also revealed that fraud, lack of transparency and viewability were considered major challenges for only 15 to 18% of the survey participants. The firms conducted the survey to gain a deeper understanding of how B2B marketers are handling programmatic ad buying, an automated method of buying, selling or fulfilling advertising.

Programmatic Advertising Spending

Programmatic ad buying continues to become more sophisticated, and spending on this ad buying technique is increasing. According to a recent US programmatic forecast from marketing research firm eMarketer, more than two-thirds of all digital display advertising will be purchased programmatically this year. Overall programmatic ad spending, according to eMarketer, will top $22 billion in 2016, and jump to more than $27 billion in 2017. Full infographic at the end of this post.


B2B Programmatic Advertising

The adoption of programmatic ad buying among B2B marketers in the US is at a tipping point, according to the Dun & Bradstreet survey. The firm revealed that almost two-thirds (65%) of B2B marketers are currently using the programmatic ad buying technique to buy online advertising. Like eMarketer, Dun & Bradstreet predicts that spending on B2B programmatic will grow significantly in 2017.

Nearly 70% of B2B marketers participating in the Dun & Bradstreet survey said they plan to increase their spending on programmatic advertising in 2017, with 22% saying they will increase it by more than 25%. 28% said they would spend the same amount, only 3% said they would spend less. But while overall spending on programmatic ad buying is increasing, it is not yet at the level of B2C spending, where almost 70% of digital media spend will be programmatic by the end of 2016.

The vast majority of B2B marketers (80%) participating in the Dun & Bradstreet survey plan to earmark less than half of their 2017 media spend to programmatic ad buying. 13% said they will reserve between 51-75% of their budget for programmatic, just 6% go all the way, allocating between 76 and 100% of the media budget to programmatic advertising.

Another recent study, covering B2B programmatic advertising, conducted by Kantar Media and Connectiv, found that nearly 79% of B2B marketers were planning to purchase at least some portion of their 2016 digital display advertising programmatically. But despite the projected increase in programmatic spending for 2017, it was clear that B2B spending on programmatic advertising has not caught up to the spending levels on the B2C-side. The Kantar study pointed out that more than half of B2B marketers admitted that programmatic ad buying for consumer campaigns was always or often included in their B2C campaigns, while only 32% of marketers said the same about purchasing programmatic advertising for B2B campaigns.

Adoption Of B2B Programmatic Advertising

There’s still quite a bit of confusion about programmatic ad buying among B2B marketers and that is holding back further adoption, especially among smaller advertisers. The Dun & Bradstreet survey revealed that 60% of B2B marketers felt they do not have a clear understanding of what programmatic ad buying is, while slightly more than one-third indicated that programmatic’s scale was too large for their highly defined business-to-business targeting. Another 35% of marketers said that programmatic’s impression-based model did not align with their cost-per-lead strategies.

B2B Programmatic Challenges

While B2B marketers are gradually increasing their investments in programmatic ad buying, significant obstacles remain. Targeting the right audiences, tracking success metrics and lack of technical knowledge and skill to run effective programmatic advertising campaigns are the top-3 challenges B2B marketers are facing today.

Surprisingly, fraud, lack of transparency and viewability were considered major challenges by only 15 to 18% of the Dun & Bradstreet survey participants. Click fraud will become so rampant that it will cost advertisers more than $50 billion by 2025, according to The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). The push for better viewability also remains a top priority for publishers and advertisers. According to April 2016 research from ad tech provider Mixpo, 29% of US digital ad professionals working at publishing companies said they were extremely concerned about viewability,

Data-Driven Campaign Metrics

Often sales-related metrics are used to gauge success. It is, therefore, no surprise that B2B marketers participating in the Dun & Bradstreet survey rated conversions (47%) and leads (43%) as the two most important programmatic metrics to gauge the effectiveness of their programmatic campaigns. But many still appeared to be using metrics such as website traffic (44%), which don’t directly relate back to bottom-line results, as well.

Data-Driven Marketing Tactics

Along with programmatic ad buying, B2B marketers are adopting more data-driven marketing tactics. The Dun & Bradstreet survey revealed that a high percentage of B2B marketers were using or are planning to use data-driven tactics, including look-alike targeting (53%), cross-channel marketing (60%), cross-device targeting (55%) and multi-channel attribution (32%).

Opinions About Programmatic Advertising

The B2B marketers participating in the Dun & Bradstreet survey expressed some strong opinions about programmatic ad buying. In fact, in the survey, nearly half (46%) of B2B marketers said that programmatic and ad tech companies didn’t “get” B2B marketing and advertising. Nearly half (49%) of survey respondents felt that it’s too hard to stay on top of all the fast changes taking place in programmatic and data-driven marketing and advertising. More than one-third felt they can reach B2B customers using the same digital tactics and strategies that are used to reach B2C customers and 4 in 10 indicated they see B2B as the biggest growth opportunity in programmatic advertising.

B2B programmatic ad buying