A Programmatic Approach to B2B Advertising in 5 Steps

Posted on by Christena Garduno

It’s no secret that advertising isn’t what it used to be. From streaming services to Instagram stories to traditional website and news sources, the digital ad space has become congested with content flooding audiences from a variety of channels, planned by both media and AI. With so many options available for reaching audiences, advertisers must take a new approach to funneling their clients’ budgets into advertising efforts—a data-backed one.

For B2B targets specifically, a programmatic approach can be utilized to meet this audience, creating an automated process for buying and selling digital advertising space in real-time. Programmatic buying can occur across various digital channels, including display, video, mobile and audio, with benefits of increasing efficiency, improving targeting and enhancing the overall effectiveness of digital advertising campaigns. The process involves the use of algorithms and technology to make decisions about which ads to display, when and to whom, contrasting with traditional advertising methods.

Here is a 5-step approach to strategically master programmatic advertising:

  1. Understand Your Audience

In order to establish a core list of your target audience throughout your programmatic advertising campaign, prioritizing firmographic data—relating to categories like company size, industry and revenue—will ensure the correct audience is pinpointed. Targeting the right audience and transforming their data into valuable insights to use in the future will enhance campaign optimization and boost the success of programmatic campaigns.

Analyze your audience thoroughly to understand their behavior, preferences and pain points. To ensure you are targeting the right audience, utilizing tools such as surveys, analytics and other market research will help develop an understanding of how different factors drive or steer away your audience.

Start with gaining an understanding of your target audiences’ interests, demographics, spending behavior and patterns. For example, creating buyer personas that embody the different characteristics you are looking for in your target audience will help you tailor marketing strategies that will resonate with and cater to the needs of the audience you are aiming for. 

  1. Use the Right Data

Prioritize the use of firmographic and behavioral data to effectively target your campaigns. In order to collect data from the right audience, the integration of various types of data is crucial. This includes behavioral, demographic and firmographic data to create targeted campaigns and strategies.

Using behavioral data such as purchase history will ensure precise targeting based on past activity, making sure all data sources are updated regularly to maintain the accuracy of the prospective consumer. Incorporating behavioral data will help you understand the online activities and engagement patterns of the target audience, delivering personalized content that resonates with the interests and needs of B2B decision-makers.

Leveraging firmographic data, such as job function, job title, industry, company size and more, is key to defining the right target audience in programmatic advertising. This data is essential for reaching B2B customers while maximizing the efficiency of marketing campaigns. For example, cloud-based project management software providers would use firmographic data to find and get in front of their ideal prospective customers. Doing this requires multiple steps, starting with identifying the industries that benefit the most from a product or service before refining the target audience by focusing on company size that would most likely use the product or service.

Then, geographic targeting is needed to identify the regions with a high concentration of businesses that would use the product or service to find prime locations for potential customers. Following this research, further firmographic data such as revenue capacity and marketing channels can be evaluated to determine the best methods for sharing the service or product and start mapping out customized messaging for the target audience.

By using behavioral and firmographic data, companies can optimize their B2B campaigns to focus on the most promising segments of the market, increasing the likelihood of attracting qualified leads, improving conversion rates and ultimately driving the success of their marketing efforts in the B2B space.

  1. Test and Optimize Results

Testing is a crucial aspect of any advertising campaign, allowing advertisers to optimize performance, understand audience preferences and maximize the return on investment. Various elements within an ad campaign can be tested to identify what resonates best with the target audience, such as the creative elements, messaging and targeting parameters. Continuously testing campaigns will help enhance your overall effectiveness of them overtime, and by analyzing the different pieces of your campaign regularly, you will be able to identify successful approaches while also finding areas for improvement.

Testing different elements within an ad campaign typically involves structured experimentation and comparison of variations, with two primary methods for testing being A/B and multivariate testing.

  • A/B testing, also known as split testing, involves comparing two versions of a single variable to determine which performs better by sending each variation to different segments of your target audience. A/B testing can be used by replacing various elements of the campaign, such as ad creatives, copy and targeting parameters with different versions to compare.
  • Multivariate testing involves testing multiple variations of different elements simultaneously to understand how different combinations impact performance. While more complex than A/B testing, multivariate testing allows for a deeper understanding of interactions between variables, such as headlines, images and your call-to-action (CTA).

Overall, effective testing of your advertising content that meets clear objectives set by your team includes a significant sample size and consistent measurement to allow for the most accurate test of your future ad performance.

  1. Focus on Quality Over Quantity

Focus on high-quality placements that are likely to engage your target audience. Placing emphasis on the campaigns that align with your target audience is important to maximize impact. Focusing on where your audience is most engaged will encourage higher engagement from them, leading to higher conversion rates. Rather than pursuing a high volume of placements with no strategic planning based on audience data, aiming for personalized content placed where the audience is spending its time will resonate with them further, bringing them closer to your product or service.

  1. Plan Agile Campaigns

Be prepared to adapt your strategies in response to market changes, new technologies and ever-evolving audience behaviors. It’s important to stay on top of market trends and shifts in consumer behavior so that you can be prepared to adapt your strategies in response to market conditions. Creating campaigns that can be adapted quickly and efficiently based on unforeseen roadblocks, new audience behaviors and technology will extend your digital reach and allow your brand to be flexible at all times, softening the blow that unexpected market shifts can bring. Keeping innovation at the core of media planning and focusing on an in-depth industry education for your clients will help your team stay ahead of the game.

A programmatic approach to reach B2B audiences is not a linear progression, nor is it a speedy process. However, in the ever-evolving digital advertising landscape, time well spent on a data-driven strategy will benefit your clients and your business in the long-run. Using a programmatic strategy will help improve the efficiency of campaigns, narrow your target audience and maximize the life of your campaign and its reach, all while delivering dynamic and personalized content to your target B2B audience. These advantages collectively make programmatic buying a powerful tool for advertisers seeking to maximize the impact and efficiency of their digital advertising efforts.

Christena Garduno is Chief Executive Officer of Media Culture


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