Incorporating Programmatic in Your B2B Campaign Strategy

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Business to Business (B2B) campaigns need to be approached differently than Business to Consumer (B2C) campaigns, as B2B sales cycles are typically much longer than B2C cycles, along with higher price points, smaller target audiences and more decision makers. As a result, your digital campaigns need multiple touch points with softer calls to action (CTAs), more educational content to build business cases, and competitive analyses to make you stand out against your competitors.

This makes the nurture phase of your campaigns even more important. You need to keep your brand top of mind, while standing out against competitors and providing consumable, valuable information that will help progress the sale. Programmatic advertising plays a crucial role to make all of this possible.

Programmatic is the solution for B2B advertisers to reach audiences wherever they are. It uses software to buy digital advertising, online and in real-time. Rather than needing requests for proposals and human negotiations, machine learning and algorithms are used to purchase ad inventory.

When using a demand-side platform (DSP) to run your programmatic campaigns, you can reach your target audience across all of their devices, through all different channels—native, display, video, CTV, audio, in-game, and digital out-of-home—all while streamlining your workflow, enabling you to spend more time optimizing your ads.

There’s lots to keep in mind when running programmatic, so our analysts took a deep dive into B2B campaigns that have run on StackAdapt to determine some best practices and insights that will help you succeed.

Goals for Programmatic B2B Campaigns

Like any other campaign, you should establish your goals before launching. Knowing what you’re aiming for will not only impact who your audience is and where to target them, but the media you decide to run with. When we looked at the B2B campaigns that ran on our platform, we found that about 87% of them were awareness and engagement campaigns, and under 13% had conversions as a primary goal.

Since B2B products and services have higher price points and require client commitment, it is no surprise that the majority of ad dollars for the B2B industry are going towards mid-funnel tactics. More than likely, a conversion for this type of campaign would be a signed contract—and often this wouldn’t come easily. It may take a series of negotiation cycles, with longer wait times.

So, the best way to spend your budget is on awareness and engagement, to help push your warm leads through to the bottom of the funnel where your sales team can take over and close the deal. Now that you know what you’re aiming for, let’s dig into which channels you should use for your B2B campaigns.

Channel Mix for Your B2B Campaign

When developing your B2B campaign strategy, it’s important to incorporate native, display and video together. Each has its unique benefits, and when combining them, you’ll have a powerful campaign—it’s the ultimate recipe for campaign success!

Benefits of Native

When it comes to engagement campaigns, native needs to be in your media mix. You’re able to engage mid-funnel users with the information they want, with a spin in favour of your brand. Even though eMarketer states that native is the preferred way to consume content, only 30% of North American B2B marketers use native ads for content distribution. This leaves a lot of opportunity for your brand to stand out, something our users are taking advantage of. Our analysts found that of all B2B campaigns run in StackAdapt, 81% of them were native.

Benefits of Display

Display ads are great for building awareness and brand recognition, because they are highly viewable and you have the ability to use unique and creative ads that capture attention. Top and mid-funnel users who are doing research need to be reminded of your brand and your product or offering—and display is the way to do that. Our users agree, with 12% of their B2B campaigns using display.

Benefits of Video

Video reinforces your brand voice and identity in a more engaging format. Video captures your target audience’s attention, while still providing information and keeping your brand top of mind. You’re able to speak to your prospects as people and engage them in a way that interests them enough to watch. Keep in mind, you want to keep your video at a length where the user is not likely to skip. We found that videos between 11-15s have a 79% completion rate compared to 91-120s videos, which had only a 45% completion rate.

Once you decide on the channel, and more importantly, the combination of channels you want to run with, you need to think about how you’re going to target your audience.

How to Target B2B Audiences

It’s important to reiterate that B2B campaigns are best suited for awareness and engagement campaigns, making retargeting and 1st-party data ideal. As you nurture your audience, you want to have multiple touch points through the mid-funnel journey.

Your 1st-party audience already knows you in one form or another. Maybe they’ve done business with you the past, or they’ve stopped by your booth at a conference requesting more information. First-party data is a great targeting tactic for B2B campaigns, and with StackAdapt you can easily upload your 1st-party data through our integrations with Adobe Audience Manager, Salesforce and LiveRamp.

One of the most effective tactics for any campaign, but especially for B2B targeting, is retargeting. Again, you want to be sure you’re constantly nurturing your leads through the funnel with engaging and informative content, and a great way to do that is with retargeting. An example of this would be to retarget users after a video completion. You already know the user is familiar with your brand, because they’ve watched one of your video ads. So, you can push them to more informative content through a native retargeting ad that leads to an article you’ve composed comparing you and your competitors—with you coming out on top! As you can see from our data below, StackAdapt users who run B2B campaigns consistently choose 1st-party and retargeting across all channels.

Finally, you want to ensure you appropriately leverage 3rd-party audiences and other targeting options as well. StackAdapt has a large 3rd-party audience catalogue, featuring audiences from B2B forward providers like Dun & Bradstreet and Bombora. When advertising for a B2B product or service, there are usually multiple decision makers, normally c-level professionals who have final sign off. It’s important to remember that these decision makers should be educated through the funnels as well.

Several B2B marketers employ an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy. To complement your ABM efforts, leverage programmatic advertising and 3rd-party audiences. Dun & Bradstreet offers ABM segments that are based off your list of target accounts that enable:

  • Expansion to include the full family tree for your target accounts.
  • Exclusions or restrictions to matched businesses ensure you are not wasting impressions and media spend.
  • Professional overlays to reach professionals in certain seniority levels or job functions at your target business.

ABM cookie pools can be built from D-U-N-S Lists, Target Account Lists, Domain and IPs.

If you take one thing away from this post, let it be this: when it comes to B2B campaigns, there are a number of tactics that can be applied to complement your existing initiatives or to introduce programmatic advertising into your marketing mix successfully.

Want to run exceptional B2B campaigns? Request a demo to learn more about StackAdapt.

Kaitlin Forbes
Kaitlin Forbes

Senior Director of Product Marketing


Kaitlin partners with various stakeholders to determine product messaging, positioning, sales enablement, and go-to-market strategy. With 10+ years in product marketing, Kaitlin has worked on various forms of SaaS products including programmatic and CRM.