B2B brands are slowly shifting to digital advertising, leaving an opening for new ad formats if publishers give them the opportunity.
Our B2B advertising trend report highlighted that B2B advertising spend was flat in 2018 when compared to the previous year — but not because advertising is stagnating. MediaRadar found that there was a noticeable shift of B2B ads moving from print to digital formats.
The question then becomes: which new or proven B2B ad formats are winning options for both publishers and B2B brands?
In our previous post, we outlined the four types of B2B advertising to watch this year:
- Native advertising, as it takes over online spend.
- Events, as they become a major channel for B2B.
- Podcasts, as audio ads grow with the niche medium.
- Out of Home, as it promises to expand where B2B brands can get their message across.
These four B2B ad formats will remain an important element of any marketing mix well into 2020. Thinking forward, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing for each of these formats, because brands certainly will be.
Native: Clear and Consistent Messaging for a Connection
One of the biggest trends we pointed to in our B2B report was the rapid growth of native advertising in 2018. Across all digital formats, native advertising saw the most growth by a wide margin — the format grew by more than 50 percent year-over-year.
What is the best way to take advantage of that growth?
To start, brands will want to be sure they are utilizing the right publications to reach their audience. The whole point of native advertising is to avoid presenting irrelevant advertising creatives to consumers.
“Getting your content in front of the right audience has become much more strategic, and requires brands to be more creative in order to deliver a successful ad campaign,” points out Araceli Almada on the Ligatus blog. “Native advertising is a key solution, as it allows brands to seamlessly blend their brand’s message into consumers’ natural discovery habits, ensuring a positive and engaging viewing experience.” Working with publications that fit a brand’s audience is a must; utilizing publications that are able to make personalized recommendations to their readers is even better.
Will you help them find that fit?
This level of targeting is the foundation of making that connection. To build on this foundation, be sure that you use clear and consistent messaging when you offer native advertising. Native ads are your chance to put your best foot forward with content marketing. In every piece, ad buyers will want to:
- Focus on creating something that is truly helpful or informative for your audience.
- Use the same authoritative voice.
- Be transparent with how and why you are presenting the information.
- Create engaging content with images, quotes and questions.
- Include a compelling call to action linking back to your brand’s resources.
Events: Tie It to the Bigger Picture
Event marketing has long been a popular (and personal) form of advertising in both B2B and B2C. More recently, Bizzabo found that 24 percent of organizations spend over half of their budget on events and the number of companies organizing more than 20 events each year increased by 17 percent last year.
How can your B2B publication make the most of this popularity?
First things first: remember that you are using the event to connect with ad buyers in a way you cannot elsewhere. “When done well, events have the power to create a lasting and powerful impression of all that your company can deliver,” says Marketo. “By allowing people to experience and interact with your company, product or service while participating in an event, you are connecting with potential buyers.” This is the value you are offering your clients and prospects.
Whether you are organizing an event or participating in one with marketing in mind, keep these B2B event tips at the forefront:
- Identify one major goal for the event. Is it for brand awareness? Lead generation? Upselling current customers? These can overlap, but having one pinnacle to reach will make for a much more strategic effort.
- Create realistic and specific goals. Identify what you want out of your event ROI and the metrics you will use to measure the ROI. Use these not only to measure success but also to improve future event marketing efforts.
- Widen the opportunity. Just because events have been around for a long time doesn’t mean they have to be run like the conference equivalent of Office Space. Look for ways to connect the event to the rest of your portfolio, particularly if they are digital.
Podcasts: Build Trust With Your Audience
How do brands use this audience made up mostly of marketing qualified leads?
Rebekah Bek provides a fantastic write up on getting the most return out of podcasting advertising for Ahrefs, a B2B SaaS platform focused on SEO. Bek was the Marketing Manager tasked with starting Ahrefs out in the world of podcast sponsorships. She knew she could take advantage of the highly-targeted nature of podcasts with an engaged and loyal audience.
After a number of trials, Bek presents a handful of podcast advertising tips relevant across the B2B board. Publishers should take note of two guiding principles for B2B brands:
- They want to choose their podcasts carefully. Bigger podcasts are more expensive but have broader reach; smaller podcasts have a more limited reach but a much more targeted audience. Either way, look for podcasts that have a natural fit with your niche.
- They want to make it as organic as possible. Pitch the possibility of mentioning the brand organically in the content of the podcast rather than as a midroll segment. If a separated 30- or 60-second ad is the only option, have the podcast host read out the ad script with their own spin. Finally, if neither of those are options, be able to incorporate organic elements ads like testimonials or casual language.
Finally, as with event marketing and even OOH, be sure to integrate podcast ads with the rest of your marketing mix or ad portfolio. For a hands on example, ZipRecruiter made a huge bid for B2B podcast advertising dominance last year — and to great success.
OOH: Creative Stands Out
Typically thought of as the ‘old school’ mode of advertising, outdoor advertising holds promise for B2B brands because it reaches their audience in a new way. These days, buyers and execs are used to seeing highly targeted tech and business ads pop up everywhere from YouTube to, yes, Forbes.
Read More: The Most Creative B2B Campaigns of 2018
OOH is an entirely different beast than the content- and people-focused tactics above; but here are some of the ideas B2B brands will be using:
- The Drum provides a detailed breakdown of some of the most influential out of home campaigns in 2018, with some great commentary on what works and why it works.
- Window Seat Consulting speaks to creative innovation and incorporating digital to an OOH campaign, as well as considering cost for execution.
- For some visuals, check out OOH Today’s guide to the creative process of standout billboards. Font, colors and size all matter.
Check back here each week for more on B2B events, podcast ads, native and more.