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More B2B Advertisers Use Programmatic: How Much Are They Spending?

More B2B Advertisers Use Programmatic: How Much Are They Spending?

Many events of 2020 were unexpected: a global pandemic and Georgia going blue on US election maps. In the marketing world, there was an unexpected rise in the number of brands turning to programmatic advertising.

Programmatic is certainly nothing new, and the growth itself isn’t surprising. What’s surprising is the rate of growth and how soon it arrived.

Here, we break down this growth and some of the contributing factors.

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COVID‐19 Drives a Boost in Programmatic

Early in the year, experts were already predicting a sizable shift to programmatic advertising options. Some sources expected 69% of all digital media advertisements—over $100 billion in value—to be programmatic.

However, growth is exceeding expectations. The Trade Desk reported 100% YoY growth in programmatic buying across Connected TV, 70% YoY growth across mobile video, and audio programmatic spend grew about 70% YoY. 

“So far in 2020 we’ve seen several years of advertising disruption and innovation compressed into a few months,” said Jeff Green, CEO of The Trade Desk. “As a result, advertisers have become more deliberate and data-driven with every advertising dollar.”

Measurability Plays a Key Role In Programmatic’s Popularity

The measurability of programmatic advertising offers marketers a major advantage.

“Almost every marketer and every large brand is being asked to do more with less,” said Green to AdWeek. “And that means that advertisers have to focus on ad opportunities that are measurable and comparable, where the business ROI can be understood and proven.”

Programmatic is just the thing for those advertisers. Rather than building awareness blindly, advertisers can target audiences that already have an interest in their services.. 

Targeting abilities are only getting better with the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI). IBM’s AI bot, Watson, helped reduce cost per click (CPC) by 71% in the U.S. and U.K.

With its cost benefits, flexibility, and automated nature, it’s hard for traditional marketing techniques to keep up.

MediaRadar Insights


This analysis looks at the behaviors of the top B2B programmatic advertisers in 2020 to answer the following question: Did the large shift of ad dollars from print to digital in the B2B space influence the size of programmatic campaigns?


One of the most notable observations for programmatic is that the number of programmatic advertisers is increasing at a faster rate than total spend.. 

For example, from January through October 2019, there were forty thousand programmatic advertisers who spent $211 million. In that same period of 2020, there were 54.6 thousand advertisers spending $250.4 million.

This 19% increase in spend suggests that though there has been an additional 14,000 programmatic advertisers in this market, ad buys are relatively small. This could be for any number of reasons, including limited budgets and the relative novelty of programmatic.

Among the top 1000 programmatic brands of 2020 (by spend), 775 of them are new: they did not place programmatic advertising at all in 2019. That also indicates enormous growth in the advertiser base.

In both 2019 and 2020, the top programmatic category was finance. However, the overall spend in this area decreased by 4% YoY. The tech, retail, and media categories all increased by at least 2% in the same time period.

The top five B2B companies placing programmatic ads in 2020 are:

  • Interactive Brokers
  • Lending Tree
  • E*TRADE Securities
  • TD Ameritrade
Ameritrade Ad
Interactive Brokers Ad

These 5 brands account for 6% of programmatic spend in B2B advertising in 2020 so far—$15.5 million overall.

It will be interesting as time goes on to see what categories and brands continue to invest in programmatic marketing. Only time will tell if this year’s programmatic trends endure as  business becomes more predictable. 

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