Is ad wastage killing your campaign?

For such a long time, the only B2B online advertising you could do would be brand focused banner adverts on media portals or PPC, and usually you needed big budgets. These days, things are different.

Digital marketing in B2B is much more approachable and pretty much anyone can do it. It’s possible to buy ads anywhere and you don’t need a budget of millions or a media agency to manage it for you. You can do it yourself, but at your peril.

Inbound marketing and marketing automation platforms go hand-in-hand with digital marketers doing it themselves. But it’s not always as simple as it looks. Taking campaigns in-house often results in poorer performance due to lack of hands-on management and the stats prove it.

In recent research by Demandbase and Wakefield, B2B marketers admitted to significant ad wastage and 71% said advertising fails to meet expectations.

The biggest challenges faced were:

  1. Difficulty in measuring ROI
  2. Targeting not focused enough (96% admitted this. Ouch.)
  3. Digital marketing mix was not optimised (89% agreed)

To me, this suggests several aspects that require expertise and support. If these are known issues then what can you do about them?

Difficulty in measuring ROI

Whilst the research states there was difficulty in measuring in ROI, it didn’t state why. It could be a systems issue such as incompatible systems (CRM and marketing automation technology not syncing correctly), technology under par or no technology, or something as simple as the tracking breaking.

As an agency we also see simpler things such as lack of access to reports where the corporate HQ limits access to information in a type of command and control approach with plenty of authority and layers of red tape.

Alternatively, it could be something as simple as not knowing how to track end-to-end from impression right back to conversion or sale. Whilst it sounds simple, reporting at that level and presenting the information back to the senior management team takes time – something that the in-house marketer often doesn’t have the luxury of.

And in some cases, there simply isn’t the drive within the business to examine the campaign to that degree. This is what leads on to the next point.

Targeting not focused enough

In Demandbase’s research 96% admitted that their digital advertising inevitably reaches a significant number of people outside of their intended target, leading to ad waste.

Now, this surprises me. With the sophisticated targeting options available on virtually all platforms – media titles, search and social platforms; this simply shouldn’t happen.

And with retargeting and remarketing options available, there’s absolutely no excuse to not engage deeper with those that have already glimpsed at your website or are in your database – all while controlling your ad spend budget.

B2B online marketing should be about quality over quantity every time. We’re not in a volume game where impressions matter. With demand generation, the focus has to be on the right targeting from the get go, regardless of the volume – and with niche markets, sector specific marketing and account based marketing this is even more important.

When it becomes a volume game, the wastage is always high. There’s always the risk of finding those that aren’t quite so relevant. It surprises me that the 96% stat is so high.

To resolve this, B2B marketers need to spend more time considering their audiences and their targeting as well as get to grips with the various ways that the platforms offer targeting. The glory of high volumes isn’t always what it seems and if the results aren’t going to impress the CMO or sales director, then think again about how you use your B2B advertising budget.

Digital marketing mix was not optimised

It comes as no surprise that this stat was high, because unless your marketing budget is in the millions, it’s unlikely you can do everything. Therefore, most respondents would say that they’re activity is not optimised. I know I would.

As marketers we also get distracted by shiny new toys and ways of doing things (oh, shiney, new… let me just try that…) but doing a few things really well can have a much greater pay off.

My suggestion would be to focus on areas where you know you can improve rather than widening the mix of activity with new elements. For example, simple things like better content and messaging aligned to buyer’s needs, improving landing page conversion, implementing remarketing for email or better targeting on your ads – all of which will be pay dividends and don’t cost the earth.

Bringing it back to B2B online advertising, we’re seeing more and more clients moving budget into paid media spend. It’s harder to generate the volume you need organically through owned channels, therefore to generate the right (targeted) numbers, you’re going to have to pay.

There are plenty of ways to ensure that budgets are maximised, campaigns are tracked and ad budgets are not wasted – you’ve just got to know what you’re doing, or ask someone who does.

What are your experiences with B2B online advertising? I’d love to hear about it, let me know on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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