B2B Buyers Ready For Programmatic, But Pubs Still Catching Up

Kantar studySince B2B publishers are still waking up to the possibilities of programmatic, media buyers must find B2B audiences on consumer sites.

Sixty-three percent of media planners and buyers execute B2B campaigns programmatically, as opposed to 73% who do so for B2C campaigns, according to the inaugural “B2B Programmatic Media Planning and Buying” study released Friday by Kantar Media SRDS and Connectiv.

Of those surveyed, 32% buy programmatically “always or often” for B2B campaigns, compared to 51% for B2C.

The study surveyed 150 media planners and buyers from large to mid-sized advertising agencies in the United States. It found that 85% of B2B buyers target audiences and content from a mix of B2B and B2C sites because it’s easier to hit their targets through a variety of different sources. This is largely due to B2B publishers not offering all of their premium inventory to programmatic exchanges.

“Buyers want more quality inventory and data to target their audience, which they can only get from the premium B2B publishers,” said Stephen Davis, president of Kantar Media SRDS. “If I were a B2B publisher, I would want to get those dollars back over to my site.”

And B2B advertisers will pay a premium to reach their desired audiences.

The study polled buyers on the importance of seven factors that influence a programmatic buy and ranked their responses in order. Audience came in first place as the most important criteria for a programmatic buy, with 78% of respondents rating it as “extremely important.” Price trailed in fifth place with only 39% of respondents rating it as “extremely important.”

“Whenever we ask media buyers to rate the importance of media inventory, price is always No. 1 or 2,” Davis said. “The fact that it’s fifth [in this report] says to me that they will pay a premium to reach the audience because it’s hard to find and the inventory quality is critical for a campaign.”

Growing budgets

Even though B2B pubs aren’t ready to support programmatic, advertisers anticipate budgets shifting over.

More than two-thirds of respondents said programmatic was already part of their B2B digital advertising budget in 2015. Half said they believe this portion of their budget will increase in 2016, with dollars shifting over from nonprogrammatic digital display.

When asked how much of their budget would shift, respondents predicted an average of 11%.

“When you see a $7 million average subscriber spend in B2B, 11% is a pretty significant shift on a per user basis,” Davis said. “There are some new dollars in the market but it really seems like a shift coming from traditional sources to programmatic. For B2B publishers, if you’re not making your plans to address this issue, you should be.”

The study polled current media planners and buyers who have worked on at least one B2B campaign over the past 12 months. Half of respondents reported that they execute both media planning and buying functions.

This story has been edited to condense some of the above numbers.

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