How to Plan and Execute Your First B2B Display Advertising Campaign

How to Plan and Execute Your First B2B Display Advertising Campaign
Demand generation receives a lot of attention in B2B because online marketing makes it much easier to execute on lead gen campaigns than it was in the pre-Internet world. Print publications could not deliver the instant response capabilities that make these programs so valuable to marketers today. But even the online demand generation market took time to develop. Before demand gen, display advertising was the dominant online marketing vehicle. It’s widely believed a small rectangular ad purchased on (now Wired) in 1994 started it all. More than 25 years later, display advertising still plays an important role in the B2B marketing toolbox — if you plan and execute your program properly.

Table of contents

  1. What is display advertising?
  2. Objectives of display advertising
  3. KPIs for B2B display advertising
  4. Targeting options for B2B display advertising
  5. What comes next?

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What is display advertising?

Let’s take this topic from the top. Display advertising generally refers to the banners, images, and text ads placed on websites. The ads are distinct from the site’s content. Some marketers and analysts will include ads displayed on social media networks as part of the online display market. Paid ads that appear in search engine results are usually classified as search engine marketing (SEM). The most common method for purchasing display advertising is the cost per 1,000 impressions of the ad unit(s), known as the CPM (with M representing the Roman numeral for 1,000). Standards around banner ad sizes, ad viewability, and more are developed by a trade association called the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Objectives of Display Advertising Campaigns

As with any good marketing plan, you want to start by identifying your objectives. This is especially important in B2B display advertising because, as we’ll see, there are a number of ways to target your ads. Identifying your objectives early will help you identify the targeting options that will help you meet your goals. Objective: Drive Consideration One example of driving consideration of your brand is serving your display ads to website visitors who work for firms on your target account list. Ad serving platforms can use the IP address of the readers to target the display ads on the sites where you decide to buy impressions. Objective: Generate Qualified Traffic Qualified traffic is similar to the qualified leads you seek in a demand generation campaign. Visitors who are considered qualified traffic aren’t immediately giving up personal information you can use to contact them, however. Instead, they are creating high-value engagement on your site because they reacted to a display ad that promotes something like an ROI tool or a calculator. They are qualifying themselves based on the offer that prompted them to click. Objective: Increase User Engagement An ad that promotes relevant content assets is one example of using display to increase user engagement. By viewing the ad, readers become aware of the assets; by clicking through, they are engaging with them. Objective: Increase Multichannel Interactions Display advertisements can be served across devices. Running a campaign that serves ads to mobile devices allows viewers to receive your message when they take their browsing to a phone. Objective: Capture Maximum Share of Voice The massive amounts of data that are fed into ad-serving platforms often includes demographic data. Serving your display units to your target demographic will increase the likelihood the people you are trying to reach see your message.

KPIs for B2B Display Advertising

Once you identify your objectives, you need to establish the key performance indicators (KPIs) your team will use to measure if they’re being met. KPIs for display advertising can include: Conversions: Visitors convert when they sign up (for a newsletter, for a trial, etc.), make a purchase, or take another desired action. One way to purchase display advertising is on a cost-per-action or acquisition (CPA) basis, which differs from a cost-per-click (CPC) basis because the reader who clicks doesn’t always convert. Engagements: Engagement metrics will tell you, for example, whether a user watched an entire video ad, if a user hovers over a creative with a mouse, and whether or not the user clicked on the banner ad. Media Quality: Media quality is a broad term that covers the environment in which your display ads are served. It includes viewability, which measures whether readers could actually see your ad on their screen; competitive separation, which might prevent your ad from running on the same page as an ad for a competitor; ad blockers, which prevent the audience from seeing your display ad; and more.

Targeting Options for B2B Display Advertising

The targeting options for your display advertising campaign will vary from publisher to publisher. Here we’re going to use the targeting options available from TechnologyAdvice, a full-service B2B media company that offers lead generation, display advertising, content, and more, to help B2B marketers achieve their goals. At TA, the standard targeting options include:
  • Contextual, where banners ads are served based on the content published on the page.
  • Behavioral, which is based on the Web browsing behavior of the reader, including sites visited and searches conducted.
  • Retargeting, which is also known as “remarketing,” serves ads to visitors who previously visited your website.
  • Cross-device, which will serve the proper display ad to the viewer based on the device they are using.
  • Location-based, which serves display ads based on the location of the viewer.
More advanced segmentation for your display program relies on the data available to online publishers and media companies. At TechnologyAdvice, advanced segmentation options for B2B display advertising include:
  • Account-based, which targets viewers from certain organizations, much like the account-based marketing (ABM) program you might use in your lead generation efforts.
  • Install base, which can target ads to viewers who have a certain technology installed in their organization (either your tech or competitive installs).
  • Demographic and firmographic, which refer to data used to create segments. Demographics create segments of people by grouping them together by, for example, their age. Firmographics do the same for businesses, grouping them by company size or revenue, for example.
  • Intent, which relies on data to gauge whether or not a prospect is exhibiting signals that show they are intending to make a purchase.
  • Lookalikes, which take an audience segment and expand it by finding more people that match the criteria. You can use lookalikes, for example, to expand your account list.
Targeting by Online Property The publishers and media companies you work with will often allow you to buy banner ads across certain media properties to help ensure you’re reaching the audience you want and not wasting impressions on viewers who aren’t interested in your products and services. At TechnologyAdvice, we offer our customers the opportunity to run display ad campaigns targeting our owned and operated media properties in a number of ways.
  • Run of network (RON), which will serve the display ads across our properties.
  • Run of IT, which will serve ads on sites that target IT professionals.
  • Run of developer, which will serve ads that target software developers.
TechnologyAdvice can also extend its audience reach beyond our owned and operated network of sites. Our multi-channel DSP access provides brand-safe inventory from 99 percent of connected US devices. We do this because we know B2B decision makers consume an average of 13 content pieces during their buyers’ journey, and they probably won’t read all 13 on our sites. We don’t think you should have to work with several publishers to reach those eyeballs.

What Comes Next?

Your objectives are chosen, your KPIs are identified, and your targeting options are set. Where does your first B2B display advertising campaign go from here? It goes in much the same direction as your demand generation campaigns, actually. Your display campaign is going to generate all sorts of data on impressions, clicks, and more. Review your data and measure your performance against your KPIs. As you would expect to do with a demand gen program, use the performance of your display campaign to make adjustments if your goals aren’t being met. With B2B display advertising in your marketing toolbox, you’re able to plan different types of campaigns to increase the awareness of your brand, target specific audience segments, and increase the visibility of your content assets and online experiences. Want to learn more about display and digital advertising solutions at TechnologyAdvice? Drop us a line at:  
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