The B2B Advantage: Programmatic Ads and Account-Based Advertising

I had the honor of moderating a recent Advertising Age webinar that explored new developments in programmatic advertising, and how it can mesh with the B2B focus on Account-Based Marketing. It was a powerful broadcast, with panelists Louis Moynihan, VP of strategic alliances at Demandbase and Jen Metz, who heads global demand generation efforts at multinational IT company CSC.

The event really opened my eyes to a number of B2B marketing issues I hadn’t considered before. As a former editor at BtoB magazine (now blended into AdAge), I’ve been covering the programmatic front for quite a while, and I admit it’s not been quite apparent to me how real time bidding benefits B2B companies. First, except for branding campaigns, advertising itself has taken a decided second seat to many other marketing techniques used by B2B marketers, including email, social, content marketing and even direct mail.

A second B2B concern has been that programmatic advertising has been dominated by open auctions, with advertisers bidding on unsold “remnant” inventory on marginal publisher sites.

As Louis pointed out, this is now being addressed by the rise of private marketplaces among premium publishers, and the use of Account-Based Marketing that reaches key decision makers.

New programmatic techniques guarantee pricing and inventory, and in some situations bidding is restricted to a small number of advertisers. These new techniques now are being used for both display and video ads. And, as Louis explained, these new programmatic advertising protocols—even open-auction campaigns, when appropriate—are benefitting greatly by an account-based approach to marketing that identifies website visitors by company, parses the intent of their visits, ranks their interest, and remarkets to them via programmatic techniques.

Louis explained well the supplier and buyer programmatic landscape, including how demand side platforms (DSPs), cookie deployment, data aggregators, supply side platforms (SSP) and publishers all work together to the benefit of the B2B marketer.

Jen Metz, meanwhile, took the audience through CSC case studies on how the company uses programmatic to market its solutions to 300 select accounts with “always on” banner campaigns. CSC measures the impact of companies that visit its websites, identifies target accounts, and tracks those accounts back to particular landing pages with targeted ads and personalized, highly impactful content.

I’ve long been a big fan of how CSC approaches its marketing. Jen, and her team, led by CSC’s head of digital marketing and global brand marketing, Nick Panayi, are creative and thorough in tying all the marketing threads together. They also never let a good idea pass them by, which is why they’re having success now with both Account-Based Marketing and programmatic.

After this webinar, my earlier reservations about the applicability of programmatic advertising to B2B has undergone quite a revision.

About the Author
Christopher Hosford is former east coast bureau chief at Crain Communications’ BtoB magazine, and former editor-in-chief of Nielsen’s Sales & Marketing Management magazine. He currently runs a content marketing agency in New York City.