Reconciling Reach And Brand Safety In B2B Advertising

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media. 

Today’s column is written by Phil Hollrah, vice president, product marketing and analyst relations, at Demandbase.

One contingent must be particularly attuned to brand safety risks: B2B advertisers. Though some typically think of B2B buyers as less emotional, a brand-safety stumble may arguably carry greater downside in B2B than it does for consumer advertising.

If I’m retargeted for a pair of sneakers that I left in the shopping cart on a page with some questionable user-generated content, I probably won’t let that override my desire for those sneakers. If I’m buying enterprise software, however, and staking my job on a highly visible project, seeing a vendor’s ad on a trashy celebrity gossip site may make me think twice – even if I willingly engaged with the content. Don’t judge.

B2B buying decisions take longer. They’re more complex. They involve more people. And they carry higher stakes than nearly any purchase made by a consumer, except perhaps buying a home or car.

And while B2B advertisers must be more diligent about poor adjacencies, the problem is also compounded by the fact that they are at greater risk than consumer advertisers in exchange buying.

B2B campaigns are generally more tightly targeted, seeking decision makers and stakeholders within specific target accounts. Insomuch as these folks can be found on the exchanges, B2B advertisers often don’t have the luxury of selectivity with respect to where they are found. Chasing tiny cookie audiences around the web incentivizes ad tech vendors to open up delivery to as many sites as possible.

That leaves B2B brands vulnerable to seeing their messages show up in shadier corners of the internet. As such they face a marginally higher risk of being left out of the consideration set or passed over in an evaluation.

Seeking scalable audiences can allow B2B advertisers to be pickier about their site placements. Methodologies that don’t depend as much on match rates and declared data may also help here.

Using whitelists can also provide for well-lit environments where buyers are engaged. High-performing whitelists typically run in the thousands, not dozens, of domains.

Domain reporting and third-party protection are key. Pre-bid blocking or post-bid measurement can prevent brand safety pitfalls. This is table stakes with the major demand-side platforms but not a given in all platforms. B2B marketers deserve to know where each and every impression was bought.

B2B marketers can have it both ways: benefiting from the addressability and efficiency of programmatic advertising while keeping their budget from going to BobsPiracySite. It just takes some planning, compromises and persistence.

Follow Demandbase (@Demandbase) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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