ADOTAS EXCLUSIVE — In nature, an increase in prey leads to an increase in predators. Similarly an increase in ad inventory leads to an increase in the need to monetize it. So it’s no surprise that the massive growth of online inventory has lead to the sharp increase in ad networks over the past few years, and recently, the intensity of the war for monetizing online impressions has reached extreme levels. Look no further than the investment valuation of $15B Microsoft gave Facebook to lock up their ad inventory. Even after significant consolidation in the space, some say that there are over 300 ad networks out there, all vying for impressions and higher CPMs. Yet, of these 300+ networks, most with minor to indiscernible points of differentiation, there are only a few that focus on the B2B market.
That’s about to change. With the need to better monetize so much unsold inventory, the B2B ad network – with its higher CPM potential – is about to have its day in the sun. This is welcome news for the B2B marketer, and the publisher looking for better monetization of its business audience.
To date, the B2B marketer has been conspicuously ignored by the interactive advertising space. There are some high quality networks that focus on the technology professional, but generally speaking, the B2B marketer has had few options when it comes to finding customers online. This is for good reason: the B2B market is a very different animal than the consumer market, and the typical ad network doesn’t have the expertise to handle the B2B buying process. B2B buyers are often looking for direct ROI vs. branding, they take longer to buy and need to be marketed to differently depending on the phase of the buying cycle they’re in. Most consumer ad networks don’t even know what a buying cycle is. Furthermore, B2B buyers are often comparing multiple solutions and searching for information to help make buying decisions, and are more likely to target decision makers with one message, and champions with a completely different message. Finally, the success metric for a campaign is often a lead that moves a prospect into a sales funnel versus a straightforward purchase, so the measurement for the success of a B2B campaign is often more difficult.
This then, can help to explain a number of consumer networks that have failed in their B2B efforts. In an article written by Kate Maddox late last year in B2B Online, Steve Ustaris, group media director at Carat, said “B-to-b audiences are extremely niche-focused. You have to be very specific about what content you’re aligning your message to.” the article went on to say “He noted that because most b-to-b clients are trying to reach specific buyers who are at different phases of the purchasing cycle, broad-based ad networks often can’t provide that level of targeting.”
The good news for B2B marketers, however, is that options with better targeting, reach and specific solutions for reaching B2B audiences are starting to appear. The combination of new targeting technology with the pressure to increase the value of inventory should help make these new networks successful. With three new networks launching in the past few months designed to deliver solutions for the B2B marketer, the B2B ad network is something marketers should begin to attention to, particularly as their bread-and-butter email programs become less effective with the ceaseless increase in spam and spam filters.
Here are a few new and interesting options for B2B advertising worth looking into:
BBN – The BBN is a network formed by a partnership between Cygnus Business Media, McGraw-Hill, Nielsen Busienss Media and Reed Business Information. It is an aggregation of more than 200 web sites that reach an estimated 10 million unique monthly visitors, and is an interesting choice because of the quality of the publishers reached by the network.
Bizo – Bizo is a new breed of network designed to target the audience rather than specific content on a site. By collecting bizographic information from data providers across the business web, Bizo has the ability to reach a more targeted set of users while delivering the scale that has previously only been found in consumer-focused networks. The Bizo network of premium business sites reaches over 20 million targetable uniques per month in over 50 targetable industry, company size, seniority and functional area segments.
The LinkedIn Audience Network – The social network LinkedIn recently partnered with Collective Media to sell their user audience data and make it targetable across the Collective Media network of sites. LinkedIn has approximately 12 million registered users in the US, and over 5 million targetable monthly uniques. Although this network has just been announced and has not launched yet, it will be an interesting new option for the B2B marketer to try.
Penton Network – Penton Media is one of the largest online and offline publishers of B2B specific content. They have built an ad network around their online properties and serve over 6 million monthly uniques in 145 highly specific websites that cover 30 individual market sectors. A marketer looking to get in front of highly niche audiences should consider Penton in their mix.