eMarketer’s Lauren T. Fisher spoke with Bob Ray, global CEO of media and marketing services firm DWA media, and Whitney Powell, the company’s media director, about how business-to-business (B2B) advertisers are leveraging the latest programmatic trends today, including the use of first-party data and programmatic for TV advertising.
eMarketer: Programmatic advertising has become table stakes for most companies today, though B2Bs have traditionally been slower to transition to it. I know DWA works with lots of B2B marketers. What trends are you seeing regarding B2Bs’ use of programmatic advertising today?
Bob Ray: Programmatic allows advertisers to be more conscious of not just a single decision-maker, but more importantly, the committee that so often in the B2B space influences the decision to buy a product.
We’ve found that sometimes you have to figure out whether having a broad programmatic play across the internet is right, or whether a private exchange with sites that are contextual will be better for prospecting because people are more in the state of mind to respond.
So it’s all about trying to figure out the right prospecting strategy, whether it’s consumer or B2B. In the B2B space, though, a lot of it is about understanding the segment we’re communicating to and whether it’s an influencer, a decision-maker or an end-user, and then trying to figure out how to get in front of them.
eMarketer: You mentioned deciding between open and private marketplaces. Is there a particular strategy more B2Bs tend to employ?
Ray: Anecdotally, I’ve seen more success from doing private networks or exchanges for prospecting, mainly because my big belief in B2B programmatic is not about efficiency but effectiveness.
For B2C [business-to-consumer], you can get effectiveness at the lowest level from an efficiency standpoint. We see B2B brands struggle if they’re trying to have a strategic model around programmatic that’s only focused on efficiency or the lowest cost impression that you can buy vs. the full journey. A $10 CPM might be justified because you’re reaching the right quality on the right sides and getting a much better downstream effect. From a B2B standpoint, you need to look at a number of proxy metrics to get the right picture.
Whitney Powell: To Bob’s point, we have to look at how all these tactics flow together. We don’t want to just single out prospecting vs. a private exchange, because all of that is building the overall segmentation of audiences together. We know, especially within B2B, oftentimes first-party data is so small, and it’s harder to scale compared to the consumer side, where there is an infinite audience. In B2B, the audience is finite. So we have to get more creative in the way that we leverage some of these tactics.
eMarketer: As header bidding becomes a more common tactic, how is this affecting B2Bs? Is it becoming easier for them to gain access to the right person, or is it making it harder for them to enact private deals, or both?
Powell: Header is definitely interesting. For us, it’s more the technology setup on the back end that determines the level of success when you compare it to the PMP [private marketplace] deals that we have in place.
When you have more of the headers set up with the server-to-server integration, that’s going to perform a lot better than a private exchange deal. But when the header technology is more based off of cookie data, we see some data loss there. That makes it more difficult to see viable performance or stick to the core audience we’re trying to go after.
Header bidding does increase revenue for the publishers overall as those bids compete against one another, but we’re willing to pay more when we know that it will result in a much larger revenue or business opportunity for our clients. Rather than paying $2 to $4 CPMs, we’re willing to pay $10 to $12 because it’s the exact audience that we want.
eMarketer: What about programmatic TV? Where do B2Bs stand on that?
Powell: With the way consumers are evolving their TV watching, especially with the Rokus of the world and the Apple TVs, it will allow us to get that much more targeting and have those insights in terms of who we are reaching.
TV is not usually considered for most of our B2B advertisers because it doesn’t really make a lot of sense for them. But when you have this targeted approach—knowing that we could reach the C-suite that they’re going after—it does play into that whole omnichannel holistic media performance that B2Bs want.
Ray: Think about it: If you’re an IT technology brand and you care about CIOs [chief information officers] and IT decision-makers, you could create a private marketplace across TV and digital and call it your CIO marketplace, and it suddenly becomes affordable for brands that could never spend millions of dollars on TV. But only the most progressive B2B companies are doing this at this stage.
eMarketer: Whitney, you mentioned that B2Bs are often working with a finite audience. So from a first-party data perspective, it’s often a small pool, correct? How do you help B2Bs navigate some of those limitations?
Powell: For a lot of our clients, the audience they’re going after is definitely finite, but we’ve seen a big increase in a lot of our B2B clients who have been onboarding DMPs [data management platforms] lately because they understand that their first-party data, especially their customer files, are very powerful. And I think that leveraging that with segmentation and lookalike audiences allows them to expand on that overall reach and scale.
We’re constantly advising clients on the best data sources to tap into. At DWA, we really try and stay away from third-party data. Others are using the same segments, and most of the time those third-party data sets are stale and old and not accurate, and they bring down overall performance.
So when we’re pulling together a programmatic strategy, we’re really looking at what data sources we have from the brand’s website, customer files and lead files that we have access to, as well as any data segmentation from a second party or crafted audiences or search keywords and intent signals from search and social that we can infuse into that model. We do that to get overall scale without losing the quality of the audience and the data segmentation that we’re going after.
by Bob Ray