The Single Network Trap: Why B2B Advertising is Different

The B2B buying process has never been as complicated as it is today. Not only are there multiple stakeholders who need to formally sign off on a purchase, but every single one of them is likely to discover and access your brand through a different channel. Research from CEB finds that, on average, 5.4 people now have to formally sign off on each purchase. Before they can do that, they’re likely going to research your company, content and solutions leveraging a variety of online and offline channels.

And of course, they’re also doing research on your competitors. To stay ahead of the curve, you need to ensure that your brand is wherever your (several) potential buyers are. Despite this, most advertising campaigns are still run through one specific exchange, network or publisher.


The problem with this is that no single channel can target your entire audience. You can use a specific network to advertise to a particular title or individual, but unless the whole buying committee is on board, the deal won’t close.

“Whereas an IT supplier might have once sold directly to a CIO and his or her team, today that same firm may also need buy-in from the chief marketing officer, the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer, legal counsel, procurement executives, and others.” – Harvard Business Review

Why One Network Won’t Cut It

Some networks may also be disproportionately heavy in certain job functions or verticals you don’t really care about reaching. For example, you may be interested in reaching IT professionals in financial services companies but the network you are advertising with skews high in sales and recruiting professionals.

Furthermore, leaders and major business decision makers don’t necessarily spend time on specific social networks or publishers. When you narrow down your search, you miss the opportunity to deliver ads to these critical groups.

In order to reach the people who actually have power to drive the buying process, marketers need access to the right inventory. The right mix of inventory is not only key for driving engagement, it’s also necessary if you want to reach key stakeholders on an account.

It’s time for B2B marketers to rethink the way they negotiate, plan and purchase campaigns. To see digital advertising success in the next 12 months, marketers will have to move away from silos and build personalized ad campaigns that reach the right audiences across the right channels.

Ready to move beyond single networks? Read our latest eBook: The State of B2B Digital Advertising.