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2023 MediaRadar Prediction: B2B Industrial Advertising Remain Cautiously Optimistic

As we kick off the new year, we’re covering trends from key markets in 2022. We’ll recap the state of each industry over the past year, the ad strategies of its biggest players, and what we predict 2023 will hold.  

Supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine, lingering pandemic concerns, unstable inflation, and a recession have caused a perfect storm—or nightmare—for advertisers. Many are seeing their advertising budgets slashed as a result. 

Meanwhile, other advertisers are finding every opportunity to spend. 

Travel advertisers, for example, are increasing their investments as people pack their bags with confidence for the first time in years. 

At the same time, education advertisers are boosting their budgets in tandem with layoffs and the Great Resignation shaking up the job market.  

You can add B2B industrial advertisers to the list of those weathering the uncertainty. 

While their YoY spending increase was modest, they could find themselves in a prime position to spend in 2023. Here’s what you need to know about the state of B2B industrial advertising.

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MediaRadar Insights on B2B Industrial Advertising in 2022

Nearly 25K B2B industrial companies spent $1.9b on ads in 2022, representing a 4% increase both in spending and the number of advertisers. 

Advertisers in three industries drove this increase: agriculture, energy, and industrial machinery. Collectively, these advertisers spent $652mm, or 34% of investment from all B2B industrial advertisers in 2022.  

Agriculture and farming advertising

Agriculture and farming advertisers spent nearly $169mm in 2022, a 6% YoY increase, thanks to big investments from advertisers promoting equipment, seeds, and industrial tractors/mowers/UTVs. Advertisers in these categories accounted for 65% of the total agriculture advertising investment in 2022.

Equipment advertisers

Ad spending on agriculture and farming equipment saw the most significant jump, increasing by 74% YoY to almost $69mm. The double-digit increase comes on the heels of surges from John Deere and Kubota advertisers, who increased spending by 232% and 1,123% YoY, respectively. 

Overall, agriculture and farming equipment advertisers divvied up their ad dollars fairly evenly between traditional and digital formats.

In 2022, they spent $27mm (39%) on TV, $23.8mm (35%) on print, and 26% ($17.8mm) on a mix of digital media (display, online video and social media).

The sizable investment from equipment advertisers makes sense given the market’s size—the market was valued at $156b in 2021—but it also speaks to shifting consumer behaviors.   

A recent survey found that 50% of farmers want to try new products and technology to improve their operations. This willingness to venture off the beaten path started during the pandemic but will persist in 2023 as farmers look for ways to drive efficiencies during a down economy. 

John Deere is making huge waves by setting up a booth at CES to promote its robotics-based fertilizer systems and new eclectic excavator. The company is also pushing into satellites to help farmers track productivity and crop performance. 

Finally, advertisers for industrial tractors, mowers, and UTVs decreased spending by 37% YoY. That said, advertisers for Kubota increased spending by 8% YoY, which could signal more ad dollars on the horizon.  

Seed advertisers

Unfortunately, some agriculture and farming advertisers didn’t see their budgets increase in 2022, including the 160 seed advertisers. For the second year, seed advertisers spent around $20mm.

Interestingly, advertisers for the two top spenders—Bayer AG and Land O’Lakes (Croplan)—embraced radically different strategies. 

While Bayer AG decreased spending by 20% YoY, Land O’Lakes (Croplan) boosted its investment by more than 500%. 

Overall, seed advertisers leaned heavily into print (72% or $16.4mm), which makes sense given the traditional buying behaviors of farmers and their fondness for in-person meetings. At the same time, they spent roughly 27% of their $6mm budget on digital and 0.5% on TV. 

While traditional ad formats will continue to make hay, the pandemic-induced shift underway in the industry is likely to push more ad dollars to digital formats as farmers and brands alike take aspects of their operations online.

Energy advertising

Over a thousand energy advertisers spent more than $235mm in 2022, representing a 6% YoY increase. 

The advertisers driving this category came from companies promoting electric power & natural gas energy, energy, and oil, gas and petroleum, who combined to spend $153.5mm, or 65% of the investment from energy advertisers

A level deeper, oil, gas, & petroleum advertisers increased spending by 5% YoY to nearly $60mm. 

Of the advertisers spending the most—Chevron Corporation, Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Marathon Oil Corporation—Chevron’s ad team was the only one to see their budget rise. In 2022, advertisers increased spending by more than 100% YoY, while those for Marathon and Exxon Mobil decreased spending by 47% and 21% YoY, respectively.

It’s worth noting that the oil industry had a massive year, earning nearly $200b in profits. Butprofits aren’t always a leading indicator of rising ad budgets. 

Here’s proof: Exxon Mobil’s profits in 2022 increased by more than $32b.

Finally, advertisers for electric power & natural gas energy spent just shy of $55mm, representing a 29% YoY increase from last year in light of the continued spotlight on alternative forms of energy. 

Industrial machinery

More than 4k advertisers for industrial machinery companies spent $247mm in 2022, representing an 8% YoY decrease. 

The top spenders in this category included those promoting robotics, industrial machinery, and measuring & monitoring instruments, who collectively spent $78mm, or 32% of the investment from industrial machinery advertisers. 

Interestingly, despite the push for all things robotic, highlighted by John Deere’s anticipated presence at CES, advertising on related products dropped by 18% YoY in 2022. 

Advertisers from Keyi Tech, Knightscope, and Miso Robotics combined to spend $15.5mm, or 54% of the total investment from robotics advertisers.  

However, that decrease would be greater if it weren’t for advertisers for Miso Robotics increasing their budget by 67% YoY as the company stepped in to help fast-food labor shortage and Amazon test robots.

Industrial machinery advertisers followed their contemporaries in robotics with a decrease of their own, thanks primarily to reductions from HILLS (down by 100%) and Mitsubishi Group (down by 60%). 

Finally, advertisers for measuring & monitoring instruments increased spending by 48% YoY to $22mm. Advertisers for Amber Agriculture, Keysight Technologies, and Vista Equity Partners each spent more than $1mm in 2022. 

That said, advertisers for Vista Equity Partners took it to another level by increasing their budget for its LogicMonitor by more than 800% YoY after acquiring a controlling stake in the SaaS-based monitoring platform in April.

B2B Industrial Advertising Should Hold Steady in 2023

The U.S. runs on industries like agriculture, energy, and industrial machinery. That won’t change, no matter how unstable the world becomes. 

If 2022 taught us anything about how B2B industrial advertisers will respond to more uncertainty in 2023, it’s that they’ll remain cautiously optimistic. While they’re certainly feeling the outside pressure, their products are in too much demand for their ad strategies to turn off completely.   

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