ABM Display Advertising: Untapped Revenue Opportunities for B2B Agencies (Part 1)

I talk with a number of B2B marketing and advertising agencies every week and I am still surprised at how many of them have not embraced Account-Based Marketing (ABM)–especially ABM display advertising. I see at least six trends occurring now that validate for me that every B2B agency out there should be offering ABM display advertising services.

Trend 1: Marketers Believe That ABM Works. Not only does it work, it could be the best approach that they use. According to ITSMA, almost 85% of marketers measuring ROI say that ABM outperforms other marketing investments. Alterra Group goes even further and says 97% of marketers surveyed believe that ABM had higher ROI than other marketing activities. If marketers feel that ABM is not only working but is one of the best strategies that they can implement, they are going to spend a lot of money there and look for help and expertise. Moreover, the conviction that ABM works will be shared with other marketers and they are going to check out ABM–searching for help.

Now apply ABM display advertising to the momentum. Display advertising can be set up in a couple of weeks and can be building account reach, awareness, and engagement just as quickly—much faster than other ABM tactics. ABM display advertising is the perfect channel to get clients introduced to and engaged with Account-Based Marketing.

Trend 2: Marketers Are Trying to Rebuild Trust with Agencies. According to Adweek, the 4Asthe Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and other advertising industry leaders have responded by creating initiatives and task forces to rebuild trust with clients through the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA), and the Trustworthy Accountability Group.

At a more local level, marketers are looking for trusted advisers. Agencies have the opportunity to work with a client on an ABM display advertising program where they help with target account selection, purchase data, create ads through messaging and visuals, provide program performance insights, and more. These activities require that the client trusts the agency. Furthermore, the very targeted nature of ABM display advertising causes account-level engagement by sales to happen faster. Clients will gain more trust with agencies as they are armed with real performance data that they can share with management to show progress. This data will hopefully position the clients as heroes or smart marketers. Agencies that make their clients look good typically get more trust from their clients.

Trend 3: Marketers Want to Leverage Data Better. To be honest with you, most marketers want to use data to make better decisions, but most don’t know where to start. A lot of data vendors sound the same as far as their claims of data coverage, quality, features and capabilities go. Marketers are looking for advisers to guide them through the data landscape and help them to apply data to ABM display advertising for better account selection, segmentation, targeting, reach, and more.

Trend 4: Marketers Are Looking for Deeper Reporting. As more and more marketers are complementing their demand generation experience and knowledge with ABM skills and strategies, they are realizing that the metrics and reporting are different. While demand generation focuses on contacts, ABM focuses on accounts. While demand generation highlights leads, ABM highlights opportunities. While demand generation counts number of form fills, ABM counts number of sales meetings or account-level engagement. Marketers will look to agencies to help them with KPIs, benchmarks, metrics, and reporting insights. They will ask agencies “How is the display advertising program doing?”, “Should we make changes mid-campaign to test or optimize?”, and “What insights can we identify and apply to the next program?”

Trend 5: Some Marketers Want Self-Service and Others Want Full-Service. Not all marketers are the same. Each marketer is on his or her own journey and pace when it comes to ABM and display advertising. There are significant opportunities for agencies to run complete programs for marketers in the beginning stages. From there some marketers will want to set up display or paid media campaigns on their own as they grow their internal skills. However; most marketers do not have a lot of experience with display advertising programs and do not have the knowledge, bandwidth, or desire to set up their own programs.

Obviously, it is imperative for B2B agencies to become familiar with the ABM display advertising platforms out there and chose one that it can leverage or partner with. Some questions to get answered include:

  • What is the total cost of an ABM display program execution for the client?
  • What, if any, is the cost of establishing a partnership with the platform vendor?
  • How many reachable contacts (through display ads) are available?
  • What is the platform ad serving reach—North America, Europe, Global?
  • How deep is the targeting—job function, personas, job titles, job levels,  competitor accounts?
  • How insightful is the reporting? Can your reports go beyond just clicks to identify key aspects of the buyer or influencer from the target account (say their job level, job function, geo location)?

Agencies must also decide if they are going to take on all the responsibilities of onboarding talent for ABM display advertising or whether they are going to partner with a display advertising platform vendor and rely on the vendor team’s subject matter expertise.

Trend 6: Marketers are Spending More Money Than Ever on Digital Advertising. According to eMarketer, digital advertising spending in 2018 will surpass $266 billion—up from $228 billion in 2017. That budget amount includes advertising that appears on desktop and laptop computers as well as mobile phones, tablets, and other internet-connected devices. It includes all the various formats of advertising on those platforms but excludes SMS, MMS, and P2P messaging-based advertising.

Revenue Opportunities Abound

Looking at the graphic below, with the right ABM display advertising platform, agencies have the opportunity to grow revenue through direct media buying, third-party data buying, assisting with selection of the tech platform, establishing reporting best practices, and services. ABM display advertising opens up new opportunities around ABM strategy and planning; account segmentation; integration, data, and analytics; and creative and display personalization.

Scale of the Opportunities

This is where clients can really use agency help. Imagine a large enterprise client wanting to run a global display advertising pilot campaign. The client may want to segment the accounts by region, sales team, industry verticals, and more. That is a lot of preparation. Predictive or intent Data may need to be purchased. With millions of ads likely to be served, there is also the opportunity to create the core program ads as well as personalized ads. That is a lot of creative. Keep in mind that mid to large enterprises spend from $250k to several millions of dollars in paid media each year. A significant portion of that spend is moving from traditional demand generation to Account-Based Marketing.

I hope I have convinced you to take a closer look at ABM display advertising for the next quarter. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn,Twitter, or email (kelly@kwanzoo.com).

 How to Get Started

Here are some resources to help you take that important next step:

In Part 2 of this blog I will go into detail around what skills I think are critical for B2B agency staff to have to embrace—and succeed with—ABM and ABM display advertising.

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