B2B ad spending will increase 13 percent in 2018 to hit US$4.6 billion from this year’s estimated $4.07 billion, eMarketer predicted in a report released last week.
However, its proportion of all U.S. digital ad spending will remain unchanged at 4.9 percent, which implies growth in other digital ad spend areas as well.
Desktops and laptops will continue to attract the bulk of B2B digital ad spend, according to eMarketer. They are expected to account for $2.54 billion this year.
Mobile B2B digital ad spend, which is forecast to hit $1.53 billion this year, also will continue to grow.
Areas of Growth
High-spending high-tech firms are leading the growth in digital ad spending, eMarketer found.
However, advertisers’ B2B digital ad budgets emphasize building a technology infrastructure to help execute — and measure the effects of — digital advertising, according to the report.
The most sophisticated B2Bs are focused on data collection and analysis. Machine learning, account-based advertising techniques, and programmatic buying also will play a role.
For SMBs Too
Software as a Service solutions will help cut the cost of data collection and analysis, said Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research at Nucleus Research.
“For all companies, the SaaS model makes a lot of sense,” she told the E-Commerce Times. Oracle and Salesforce, for example, have large-scale data and targeting offerings [but] SaaS, by its very nature — even from the big players — provides accessibility to smaller organizations.”
“HootSuite, Optimizely and HubSpot, to name a few, provide capabilities that can be effectively used by SMBs,” Wettemann pointed out, “and, of course, Google Analytics — which is free — can do a lot for understanding traffic and audiences.”
Further, there are “a number of freemium options with varying degrees of sophistication, depending on a company’s specific strategy,” Wettemann remarked.
“As companies look more and more to social advertising, the advantage of freemium products is they can experiment before they make a big investment,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of projects grow this way.”
Engaging the Right Prospects
The focus for many ad platforms, agencies and B2B brands has been to ensure that digital ads are targeted and displayed at the right place and the right time, instead of planning individual channel-, device- or campaign-centric strategies and budgets, eMarketer found.
“B2B marketers are investing more in digital advertising so they can reach the right buyers in their preferred channels,” said Joe Andrews, vice presideint of marketing at InsideView.
“You may want to warm up a prospect by selectively placing ads only to people at that company,” he told the E-Commerce Times. Account-based advertising platforms enable this.
“The key for B2B marketers is to spend time up front and select the right target accounts based on your ideal customer profile so you can deliver digital ads that engage the right buyers at the right time,” Andrews advised.
Old Ways Are Best?
Email was the most-used outreach tool for 39 percent of more than 2,000 executives who responded to a Ytel survey conducted this fall.
Only B2B marketers at the director level and above were approached, said Ytel CEO Nick Newsom.
Only 7 percent of respondents named digital ads as their most-used method.
Other communication tools:
- Phone calls — 22 percent;
- Social media — 17 percent; and
- Direct mail — 7 percent.
Still, “I agree with eMarketer’s prediction for B2B spend and expect the 7 percent number to increase next year,” Newsom told the E-Commerce Times.
As for mobile marketing, 58 percent of respondents to the Ytel survey used SMS.
“Most of our B2B customers use SMS to send links to blogs, landing pages, product spec sheets and more,” Newsom said. “Many B2B companies have long sales cycles and need to stay top of mind and nurture prospects in ways beyond just email.”