Last year we started seeing brands like DraftKings Nation, Lending Tree and Pfizer start purchasing more native ads—and they weren’t the only ones experimenting with the format.
According to our data, about 66% of brands that used native advertising in 2020 didn’t spend in the native B2B space in 2019. More notably, none of the top ten spending brands in 2020 overlapped with the top ten spending brands in 2019.
Many of these changes resulted from the pandemic.
Now that we’re roughly halfway through 2021, did these shifts in native advertising last?
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B2B follows B2C companies using native
You might not think of programmatic and native when you think of B2B marketing. B2B industries weren’t the first to jump on the trend, but B2B brands are following their B2C counterparts and it seems to be paying off.
“When I think about B2B social today, companies are very active on social,” said Carter Hostelley, founder and CEO of Leadtail, a B2B social media consultancy to CMSWire. “Social is discovery driven. It’s really about moving folks from discovering a brand to having interest in the brand and then finally having intent around the brand.”
According to LinkedIn, 75% of B2B buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions. After years of relying on salespeople for product information, buyers discover and do most of their research online before reaching out for any serious buying conversation.
In order to engage buyers with native, businesses need to understand their buyers and their needs exceptionally well.
“This approach is often preached but rarely practiced, which is likely why the Forrester report found that 59% of global tech buyers say that most content from vendors is useless,” writes Jonathan Franchell, founder of B2B growth agency Ironpaper.
To distribute native advertising and content well, brands must create relevant content by better understanding their ideal customer profile.
Native advertising is often an experiment for brands. Even if they’ve mastered one platform like LinkedIn or Twitter, there’s still more to learn on other platforms like Facebook or yes, even TikTok.
Last year there were roughly the same amount of brands purchasing native ad space as 2019—but the interesting thing was that the majority (66%) were new to the format.
Over the last several months, we’ve seen even more B2B brands begin using native advertising.
Looking at the data from January through May 2020, there were 790 advertisers spending $4.1mm in B2B direct native advertising. During the same period of 2021, we saw 1.1k advertisers spending $6.6mm in the same space.
A portion of this 61% increase in spend can likely be attributed to the continued shift to digital in the B2B space. Brands are also doubling down on account based marketing—which relies on personalized marketing for accounts. Social is an important targeting tool for this marketing approach.
B2B Native Advertising Stats Worth Knowing in 2021
- In 2021, 83% of all native advertisers are new.
- Brands who’ve returned year-over-year only account for 7% of all native advertising spend in the B2B space.
- The top 10 brands in 2021 accounted for 30% of the total ad spend January – May:
- Brand Hong Kong
- Zurich American Insurance Company
- E*Trade Securities
- FlexShares Funds
- PLI Practising Law Institute
- Lending Tree
- Kinney Recruiting
- Of the top 10 spending brands, Lending Tree, Kinney Recruiting, and Lawline were the only returning brands from 2020.
- Their spend accounts for 4% of all ad spend, paralleling other returning brands to the B2B native advertising space. Returning spend is very small.
Methodology: This analysis looks at the behaviors of the top B2B native advertisers January – May of 2021, and compares that activity to the same period in 2020.
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