Is Your Ad Tech Fluent in B2B?

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August 15, 2023

6 mins read

Gabe on GTM Feature

Is Your Ad Tech Fluent in B2B?

I’ll get right to the point. If you’re using ad tech from a provider other than Demandbase, chances are you’re using a platform that doesn’t speak B2B as its native language. Other “B2B advertising” providers rely on third-party ad tech that was originally built for B2C and they’ve retrofitted it for B2B. That’s not the case at Demandbase. We built our ad tech from the ground up specifically for the unique challenges of B2B. 

B2B, B2C, or Retrofitted B2C: What’s the difference and why does that matter? 

(In a hurry? Check out this 1-minute video clip.)


I’ll warn you, I’m going to get in the weeds, but I think you’ll appreciate the details.

Let’s start by examining the differences between B2B and B2C buying journeys. In B2C, you usually have a large market, mostly made up of individual buyers making simple buying decisions that are low cost and don’t involve multiple decision-makers. B2B is the opposite. Most purchases are complex. They take time and involve a whole committee of people, each with a different role in the buying process. 

In the B2C scenario, you do one of two things, either mass branding to a large population of people who fit a certain profile or retargeting to people who’ve shown interest in your product. Think boots. If you recently checked out boots at an online retail site, the B2C advertiser will serve you an ad for those very same boots, hoping to entice you to buy now for the low price of $59.99. Done. Easy decision.

In B2B, most of the time there’s no budget for mass branding. After all chances are pretty good there are a lot more individuals interested in boots than in your B2B solution. And retargeting does not result in conversions. Why? Because B2B buying decisions take longer. Relying solely on either of these strategies will result in a massive waste of budget. B2B digital marketers only want to target people at accounts that are a good fit for their company and likely to make a purchase. 

The problem is that B2C ad tech has no concept of an account or buying group. They choose their targets based on demographic data such as age, gender, ethnicity, level of education, income, and so forth. Not only is this irrelevant in B2B, but the “facts” they gather are often wrong. 

This also means that B2C platforms can’t measure results that matter in B2B. You can track individual impressions and clicks, but there’s no way of knowing if your ads are generating engagement, pipeline, bookings, or revenue from your targeted accounts.

Enter Retrofitted B2C

To address these problems (and to compete with Demandbase), other B2B advertising solutions adapt B2C ad platforms to provide some account characteristics. What they do is upload IP addresses and cookie IDs to their partner platform to serve ads exclusively to a specific group of accounts. That might sound great, but the underlying technology can’t optimize bidding to accounts, so all sorts of problems arise, like individual accounts sucking up all the campaign budget and the inability to prioritize bidding at the account level. What’s more, some companies have an incredibly large pool of IPs and cookie IDs that represent mostly people outside of the buying groups, which leads to targeting people within the account who don’t care about the product being advertised. In other words, wasteful spending.

Perhaps the most significant flaw with retrofitted B2C ad tech is that it can’t tap into the holy grail of B2B targeting data that uses real-time B2B intent signals to prioritize the IPs and cookie IDs to use within each account. Without this, IP-based targeting is all you get. 

I’ll admit, the retrofit is better than nothing. But there’s still too much wasted spend, and there’s a better way.

Meet Demandbase Piper

Earlier this month, we rolled out the red carpet for the Demandbase Piper B2B DSP — the new name for our proprietary B2B ad tech. The technology has been around, honed, and perfected since 2012, but we decided it was time to give it a name as distinctive as its capabilities. 

Piper stands for Pipeline + Revenue and it was built from the ground up to tackle the unique challenges of B2B, with a native account object and the ability to use real-time B2B intent signals to optimize targeting and bidding.

It only serves ads to people associated with a target account, and prioritizes impressions to the buying group members in an active buying cycle. How does it do that?

Suppose you were able to narrow your targeting to an individual with the right title at an ICP account and they’re showing interest in your product (something other ad tech is not able to do, by the way), you might think you’d hit the jackpot. But not necessarily so. That still doesn’t mean the company as a whole is in a buying cycle. You need to be able to analyze behavior across the entire buying group to determine if the company is actively considering a purchase. Demandbase is able to do just that through our Demandbase One™ platform. It considers predictive models, engagement minutes, intent, anonymous web activity, and more to decide who to advertise to, and feeds those audiences directly into the Piper DSP. 

In short, Piper, combined with Demandbase One™, is able to identify ICP accounts and their buying groups and track intent and other engagement behaviors across the groups. These are the two absolute essentials for B2B advertising. Anything less will result in wasting your ad dollars on the wrong targets.

In addition, with Piper and Demandbase One™, you can:    

  • Track each buying group member throughout their journey, so you can target them individually and customize your messages for their role and stage in the buying process.
  • Measure business goals, not vanity metrics, so you can see how impressions and clicks contribute to pipeline, deals, and revenue — at the account and individual level.
  • Pace your campaigns and balance impressions across your target accounts and buying group members, so you don’t accidentally spend your whole budget on a few large accounts.
  • Advertise only on whitelisted, context-appropriate sites. You’ll never see a Demandbase ad on a celebrity rag or radical political site. That can’t be said of other “B2B” advertisers.
  • Automatically optimize bidding to achieve results that drive revenue, such as account lift, engagement, and account reach.

That’s everything you’d want and expect from an advertising solution that’s fluent in B2B. Can that be said of your ad tech? If not, contact us and we’ll gladly introduce you to Demandbase Piper. 

In case you’re wondering, DSP stands for demand side platform. It’s the inside term for a software platform that facilitates ad bidding and targeting across multiple ad exchanges. In other words, “ad tech.”  

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Gabe Rogol

CEO, Demandbase

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