Programmatic advertising is unlocking new opportunities for account-based marketing (ABM), and according to industry experts, interest and investments are ramping up. Research from Dun & Bradstreet found that 63% of B2B marketers worldwide are already buying or selling programmatically, and 41% expect to spend even more in 2019.
The main appeal is in the ability to target specific accounts, and the people within those accounts, with ads that tell a story sequentially through the buyer’s journey. For example, a buyer might be served an awareness-type ad, followed by a series of ads that give more detailed information on a product or brand, finishing with one that’s meant to close the deal.
Dun & Bradstreet found that 48% of B2B marketers already had this type of ad personalization in place, and many in the industry see even more potential for it.
“If you’re asking me what the thing of the future is, it’s sequencing and making sure you’re serving relevant content, and not overexposing people to one message,” said Steve Weeks, director of media strategy and planning at Adobe. “A programmatic platform allows you to do that better than you could going direct.”
The idea is that, with buyers being guided through the funnel more effectively, marketers will be able to accelerate pipeline velocity by shifting dollars based on how specific accounts perform. The same Dun & Bradstreet research found that 46% of marketers were already doing this type of real-time optimization.
Before B2Bs get lured into thinking that programmatic can magically enable account-based success, there’s a lot of groundwork that needs to be done. For example, it’s crucial that marketing and sales teams work together to identify what their most profitable accounts have in common.
Similarities to look for could be industry vertical, revenues or particular technologies. The teams can then align on a list of specific accounts to target and focus on coordinating messaging efforts.
“There needs to be continuity and orchestration between the advertising strategy and all other channels in order to nurture accounts through the buyer's journey in a strategic way,” said eMarketer analyst Jillian Ryan.
However, getting sales and marketing in the same room on a regular basis is easier said than done. Research from Engagio in 2018 found that orchestrating account interactions and running plays was one of the top three challenges B2B marketers faced in their ABM efforts. And 53% of B2B marketers surveyed for a January 2019 TOPO report said that coordinated programs across marketing, sales development and sales is the most important factor in account-based success.