Business-to-business (B2B) advertising has not typically been considered as innovative or “cool” as splashier B2C campaigns. However, as the B2B marketplace becomes increasingly crowded and competitive, brands are moving beyond traditional advertising channels to embrace cutting-edge strategies to capture the attention of buyers.
In 2023 B2B brands are diversifying their efforts to include formats from digital native advertising, to sponsored podcasts and out-of-home advertising (OOH). Brands are adapting to the future of omnichannel advettising.
As the B2B advertising playbook is finally getting a modern upgrade, we are here to share with you how businesses can adeptly balance tradition with innovation to obtain the most impactful position in 2023 and beyond.
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What Is B2B Advertising?
Business-to-business (B2B) advertising is a form of marketing aimed at other businesses, which means their target audience is not the general public. Generally these targets include institutions, government and non-government organizations
Unlike the business-to-customer (B2C) model which targets household consumers, B2B focuses on reaching decision-makers responsible for capital decisions..
Since B2B advertising differs greatly from B2C, strategic media placement is vital. Especially since business decision makers tend to be more challenging and the audiences are more limited.
From Traditional to Omnichannel Advertising
Advertising has evolved significantly over the years, giving rise to two distinct worlds of marketing: traditional advertising and digital advertising. Businesses have to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and create a balanced and integrated advertising strategy that leverages the benefits of both.
Traditional advertising refers to the conventional methods of marketing that have been around forever. This includes print advertising in newspapers, magazines, brochures, billboards, posters, and direct mail. Television and radio commercials also fall under traditional advertising.
One of the main characteristics of traditional advertising is its tangibility. Physical advertisements are easily accessible and they are often associated with a sense of familiarity and trust. However, they can be limited in terms of targeting specific audiences, and the reach is not as easily measurable.
Digital advertising leverages the power of the internet and technology to promote products and services. This includes various forms such as display ads, social media marketing, search engine marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, and content marketing.
Digital advertising allows for more precise targeting, real-time data analysis, and interactive engagement with the audience.
One of the key advantages of digital advertising is its ability to reach global audiences. Moreover, digital ads can be highly personalized based on user behavior and preferences, leading to higher conversion rates.
In 2023 Omnichannel Is Everything
Omnichannel advertising refers to an integrated marketing approach that provides a seamless and consistent customer experience across multiple channels and touchpoints.
The key elements of omnichannel advertising include:
- Cross-channel integration. Omnichannel advertising uses multiple channels such as – TV, desktop/laptop, mobile, print, social media, in-store, etc. The messaging and branding are coordinated across channels so the experience feels cohesive.
- Understanding the customer journey. Here brands can identify key touchpoints and optimize engagement by analyzing the data across channels.
- Personalization. Thanks to the data gathered, brands can now customize their messaging across channels and tailor offers when needed.
- Consistent brand experience. Ensuring visual identity, tone, offers and messaging align across channels to build familiarity and trust.
- Automation and integration. By using technology to automate campaigns and integrate data/insights real-time adjustments can be made.
- Measurement. Leveraging data and metrics to optimize spending across channels. This requires cross-channel attribution modeling.
The ultimate goal is to meet customers where they are at with a message that feels not only relevant, but personalized and consistent. Omnichannel provides a more meaningful brand experience than a siloed single-channel approach.
3 Types of Advertising for B2B Businesses in 2023
In today’s digital landscape, B2B companies need to leverage various advertising strategies that effectively engage their niche target audiences.
1. Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) Advertising
Traditional out-of-home advertising, such as billboards, posters, and wallscapes, have now been joined by innovations. The rise of technologies has enabled out-of-home advertising to incorporate new tech capabilities, from QR codes and 360 Video, bringing exciting opportunities for this type of advertising. In fact, ad spending in the digital OOH advertising market is projected to reach US$17.54 billion in 2023 and will continue to grow to US$22.5 billion in 2027.
OOH placements with integrated geolocation data have revolutionized the medium. Now, by using location data, advertisers can target the initial ad placement and later retarget individuals who have been in close proximity to the ad on mobile or web platforms.
This seamless fusion of the physical and digital realms represents the natural progression in B2B advertising.
Here is an example: The Trade Desk is a B2B demand-side platform that assists marketers in reaching their audiences across various channels. Despite having a high client retention rate of 95%, many marketers are still unaware of the Trade Desk.
To address this visibility issue, the company ran a “What Matters” campaign, which focused on explaining what they do and why it matters. The company placed digital panels on bus shelters, newsstands, elevators, and lobby screens. Then retargeted relevant DOOH audiences via CTV, display, and video reaching an additional 16 million DOOH audience impressions, ultimately creating a 42 % lift in ad recall.
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2. Podcast Advertising
Podcast ads are gaining traction among B2B marketers as podcasts continue to grow in popularity. In the U.S 79% of the population is aware of the format, while over 82 million people listened to podcasts in 2021. This number is estimated to rise even further, reaching over 100 million listeners in 2024.
B2B companies are both buying ads on existing podcasts and creating their own branded ones that are focused on topics relevant to their audience. As podcast listeners tend to be educated, this presents an excellent opportunity for professionals who align well with the target B2B demographics.
Purchasing podcast ads allows to reach engaged niche audiences in an environment where people are actively paying attention.
Creating branded podcasts provides B2B companies a channel for longer-form content marketing. While more resource intensive than blogs, branded podcasts can foster higher levels of engagement. Examples like Sumo Logic’s Masters of Data, demonstrate B2B brands finding success through dedicated podcasts centered around their industries.
What makes podcast ads especially effective is the host-read ad format. Research by Nielsen found ads read organically by podcast hosts rate significantly higher in authenticity and believability compared to standard pre-recorded ads. This unique host endorsement provides B2B brands an influential yet relatable way to reach audiences.
With growth trajectories forecasted to continue on the upswing, podcast advertising will likely see more emphasis from B2B marketers moving forward. The medium offers an adaptable option for brands to craft targeted and trustworthy messaging at scale.
3. Native Advertising
The demise of third-party cookies along with the negative attitudes around intrusive ads B2B advertisers have to be careful.
This is where native advertising comes in – and consumers are not against it. Natural advertising blends in with regular editorial or social media content, creating a more natural user experience: 68% of consumers trust native ads seen in an editorial context, compared to 55% for social media ads.
The key trends in natural advertising are:
- Video. Native video is an increasingly popular form of content marketing for B2B brands. Insightful videos are seamlessly blended into educational articles or social posts allowing brands to engage with the target audience.
- Branded Content Studios. Many publications now offer in-house branded content studios as a service for advertise comers. These studios allow brands to develop engaging, native-style ads tailored to the publication’s niche target audience. Examples include Forbes BrandVoice, Mashable Brand Lab, etc.
- Social Media. Social platforms have become essential channels for B2B brands thanks to their targeting capabilities and wealth of user data. LinkedIn in particular stands out as the world’s largest professional network, providing targeting power for B2B advertisers.
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In 2023, the advertising industry is rapidly evolving due to continuous innovations. B2B companies need to use integrated multichannel strategies to build deep relationships, actively involve their target markets, and achieve high levels of results and commitment if they want to stay competitive.