Future Selling: The Role of Ad Tech and Programmatic in B2B Media

ad tech and digital media convergeTwo weeks ago, I spoke at the Business Information & Media Summit on the impact of ad technology and programmatic buying on B2B media. The title of my talk: “Future Selling in B2B Media: Yes, there is a future.”

To give you a sense of perspective, #BIMS14 brought together 400 senior executives from business media, information, data and software companies ranging from some of the largest in the world, to start ups.

Related Article: B2B Marketing in 2014: The Trends, Successes and More

It was an audience of smart, experienced professionals, many of whom are still struggling with the havoc that the Internet has wrought on their traditional media and information businesses. To create a sense of context, I started with the major milestones that have shaped the digital landscape in which we currently live and do business:

  • 1995: Birth of the commercial web
  • 2000: First phase of the Internet as a platform
  • 2004: Social Networks introduced
  • 2006: Online targeting emerges
  • 2014: The Intention-Based revolution begins

This most recent milestone, the intention-based revolution, is a significant from-to shift. Advancements in digital technology have given us the ability to see users’ behavior in real time, improving both the experience for the audience and also creating more natural engagement with relevant advertising.

The power and potential of the intention-based web is reflected in the sheer number of marketing automation and ad tech companies that exist today. Estimates suggest there over 1,300, with new ones popping up daily. While the capabilities vary widely, the vast majority of these technologies were developed to help marketers leverage intention-based data to drive their digital marketing. Heck, to drive all of their marketing. Period.

The presentation on the future of selling in B2B media pivots on the following two fundamental concepts:

  1. All media today is digital. Regardless of the media you produce, whether it’s live events, data and business information, digital marketing or print, digital is increasingly the way audiences find, engage with and evaluate your offerings.
  2. Digital media and ad tech are converging. As they do so, this convergence is creating the intention-based media era as B2B marketers now have access to real-time data that signal the intentions of their prospects and customers.

For B2B media and marketing professionals, these are both exciting yet challenging times. There are 4 key steps to help start the process:

  1. Understand digital body language: Listen to your audience. Start looking at more than visits and views. Capture, analyze and retain all of the data you can. From initial visit, to content and advertising viewed and engaged with, to time on site, IP address, titles, functions… look at all of the firmographic and demographic data you can.
  1. Leverage targeted content: Start leveraging targeted content that you and your advertising customers produce. Relevant, contextual content is the fuel for intention-based media.
  1. Harness your own data: The data you collect is your best friend. Real-time, first party as well as third party, behavioral analytics data—digging in and understanding your data is an integral part of intention-based media.
  1. Embrace ad tech: In order to take advantage of the intention-based landscape and the future selling that comes along with it, it’s essential that you embrace ad tech. This includes programmatic advertising and media buying, as it’s estimated that by 2017, 83% of all ad buys will be programmatic.

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Historically, B2B media created value for advertisers based on retrospective data; qualification forms, registrations to a trade show or email newsletter subscriptions. Today, B2B media value is based on a publishers ability to use ad tech to act on real-time, intention-based data, and create media inventory that can be sold directly to marketers and/or indirectly through programmatic exchanges.

Publisher to marketer map

Ad tech model diagram and map of content

The Business.com Case Study

We’ve spent the last year rebuilding our platforms, site and business model around this new landscape. Harnessing real time, intention-based data, generated on Business.com, allows us to provide a uniquely contextual experience for our audience of business decision makers. It also allows us to scale digital marketing programs for our advertisers by using this data to intelligently engage these buyers on our site, across our proprietary performance-marketing network and across the broader web. Media, marketing and technology have become inextricably intertwined. To provide value for both reader and marketer however, they need to be engineered to work together, which is the approach we’ve taken with Business.com.

Intention-based media is opening up new opportunities for B2B media and marketing and it’s still in the early stages. We look forward sharing our journey with you and as always look forward to hearing yours. View the entire presentation below.

Future Selling: The Role of Ad Tech & Programmatic in B2B Media from Tony Uphoff

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