Native ads have ascended to the upper echelons of programmatic advertising. According to Insider Intelligence, native display ad spending was expected to increase by 14.9% YoY and surpass $87b last year.
At the same time, native video advertising was expected to account for around 84% of all video ad spending in the US. To put that into perspective, digital video advertising spending reached $47.1b in 2022, meaning that close to $40b of that went to native video ads.
There’s no longer an argument that the less ads look like ads the better—and here’s proof. More than half of people prefer native ads over banner ads, while native ads are 18% more likely to lead to purchase intent.
B2B advertisers are responding as you’d expect. According to MediaRadar’s data sample during H1 2023, 7.9k companies promoted 11.8k brands via native B2B advertising digital outlets, collectively spending almost $171mm. On a more granular level, the average monthly investment in B2B native ads fell at around $28.5mm, with peak spending coming in April.
So, what’s next for native advertising in B2B media? Here are three trends to keep an eye on this year.
Advertisers Mix and Match with B2B Native Ads
Native ads warrant significant dollars from advertisers across B2B media outlets, but advertisers aren’t betting on a single horse. Instead, they’re diversifying their media mixes, catering to different audiences, and investing in other channels and formats to figure out how to maximize their budgets.
Pro Tip: Understand advertisers’ messaging by tapping into MediaRadar to see their most recent ad creative, when and where it ran on the page, as well as the editorial content surrounding them.
Although a fair share of advertisers in our sample spent exclusively on native ads (1.4k or 18%), including FinanceBuzz and Dudley Resources, most advertisers spread their wealth across multiple formats, including display and events.
For example, of the nearly 1.6k advertisers who opted for native and one other format, 55% (872) slotted in digital display ads, while 18% (277) went with events.
Interestingly, almost 1.4k advertisers added at least five additional formats to their investment in B2B native ads, which not only speaks to the myriad of available inventory available but advertiser’s desire to get in front of buyers in as many ways as possible.
This illustration from Gartner charts the complexity of the B2B buying journey and, more importantly, the multitude of touchpoints B2B advertisers need to address. Mixing and matching native B2B ads with other formats is the only realistic way advertisers can stay in front of buyers throughout this journey—a journey that can take months and include input from up to ten decision-makers.
A Handful of Industries Buoy B2B Native Advertising
Despite native advertising’s prominence and proven prowess as people crave more natural ad experiences—68% of consumers trust native ads in an editorial context—advertisers in just five categories accounted for the bulk of spending in H1.
For example, advertisers for 1.9k technology companies spent nearly $35mm on B2B native ads through June, with software advertisers, including those from RELX Group, SAS Institute, and Chaikin Analytics, accounting for 58% of that investment.
For these technology advertisers, the strong spending in H1 comes after an equally strong 2022. Through October 2022, more than 21.2k technology advertisers spent nearly $12b on digital, print and TV ads, representing a 27% YoY increase from 2021. Overall, their average monthly investment increased by more than 95% YoY ($930mm in 2021 vs. $1.8b in 2022), with the biggest spike coming in September in preparation for the holiday season.
Also in H1, advertisers for nearly 600 finance companies spent $30.4mm on B2B native ads, including those at State Street Corporation, Pictet Group, and Direxion, who combined to spend $10.8mm or 35% of the finance spending. Overall, financial institutions and services accounted for 72% of the category’s investment.
For these finance advertisers investing in B2B native ads, spending comes at a turbulent time. Not only did the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank throw a wrench into their advertising strategies at the beginning of the year, but ongoing economic hardships continue to reduce the demand for some of their products and services.
For example, as mortgage interest rates rise, spending from real estate advertisers has declined. In 2022, 11.9k real estate advertisers spent more than $2.3b on ads, representing 15% and 23% YoY decreases, respectively.
Finally, over 1.6k B2B Industrial companies spent more than $26mm on native media through June, namely, those promoting industrial machinery, electronics, and chemicals, who accounted for 33% of the category’s spend.
While the uncertain economy and business hardships often hit industrial companies and their advertisers particularly hard, their investment in B2B native media could remain steadfast as we move through 2023 and their target audiences take their buying habits online.
A recent McKinsey & Co. survey of nearly 4,000 business executives in 13 countries found that B2B eCommerce has taken the lead as the most effective sales channel.
Pro Tip: Get a streamlined view of all advertiser activity to inform your proposals and show prospects how their competition is allocating their advertising budgets across channels and formats.
There’s Still Native B2B Inventory Out There
Despite advertisers in five industries accounting for 79% of the investment in B2B native ads, there’s still plenty of inventory available for advertisers ready to ride the native-advertising wave.
Through June, advertisers for nearly 6k companies advertised 8k brands or product lines via B2B native ads, collectively spending more than $197mm. (Over half of that investment came from advertisers in the Technology, B2B Industrial, and Professional Services industries.)
Pro Tip: Use MediaRadar to instantly show your prospects mock-ups of what their B2B native ads will look like surrounded by your relevant reporting.
These fresh investments, coupled with the substantial sums from existing players, position B2B native ads—regardless of where they appear—in a prime position to thrive despite the uncertain economy and unprecedented pressure on advertising budgets.
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