Too many ads, not enough conversions?

Julian Race 3/19/2018

If you are a company that sells to a businesses and you are employing B2C display advertising strategies, you’re doing it wrong.

If you are a company that sells to a businesses and you are employing B2C display advertising strategies, you’re doing it wrong. The 2016 Ad Waste Survey revealed that 71% of B2B marketers admit their organization’s digital advertising fails to meet their expectations.

One of the major fundamental advantages that came with the shift to digital channels was improved metrics and improved targeting. That influx of data is telling us we’re missing the mark—big time. Ads are being inserted all over the place, only to be seen - and ignored - by unqualified targets in some of the oddest places the internet has to offer.

Display advertising gets a bad rap, but for a good reason - It has been abused to the point of becoming the antithesis of positive user experience. Users find display ads disruptive and not useful as they are often shown out of context and are poorly designed. It’s gotten so bad that even Google is taking action against it.

Spray and Pray

Since 1995, when the first display ad debuted to a 25% click-through rate, humans have been challenged with what we now call “banner blindness”—the tendency to ignore elements of a webpage that resemble ads.

'Spray and Pray' is exactly what it sounds like: blindly burning through your budget by haphazardly spraying banner ads across the web and praying that a human sees them. It’s true, you could be spending thousands of dollars each month, only to get your ads seen by a limited group of unqualified humans. Unqualified, due to the fact that your ads aren't being placed where your target audience lives on the web and limited due to the issue of bots providing fraudulent impression data.

As an enterprise IT company, SaaS company, or anyone who markets their products and services to other businesses, it's important to note that you are trying to attract a very targeted subset of the population. Fortunately, there are some emerging technologies in the MarTech industry that are helping us better accomplish our goals of hyper-targeting ideal audiences.

Display advertising in the business-to-business technology space needs to master context and relevance to be successful. Relevance is delivering ads to the appropriate segments of your target audience at the right time. In addition, the context in which one consumes an advertisement can have a significant impact on how it is perceived. Here are two scenarios where relevance and context converge:

1. Native Advertising

In the United States, display banners in the Internet & telecom industry still get less than 0.6% click-through rate, and the average time a user interacts with an ad is 15 seconds. Impressed?

Native advertising to the rescue. This is a tactic that can boost your conversion rates because it appears in an almost organic fashion, on a trusted network, with specific targeting parameters you set. LinkedIn sponsored posts, or Google’s AdSense native ads are examples of this in action.

2. Retargeting

Organic traffic can be a huge driver of leads for your website. With a well-executed SEO strategy, you can bring more qualified and engaged traffic to your site. Add a regular cadence of optimization to your site to the mix and hopefully, you will have created a conversion friendly, focused marketing experience. But what happens to the traffic that doesn’t convert? That’s where retargeting comes in to play. Not all organic visitors are created equal, but if there’s a prospect out there that needs a few more touches before they convert, this is the gentle nudge that they may need to actually become a customer.

In many B2B scenarios, display advertising can be used for the forces of good. Generating brand awareness is a natural byproduct which is less measurable, (then again, so are highway billboards and those still have a way of popping up everywhere). Native advertising can be the gateway, while retargeting offers the ability to hone in on those who have already interacted with your brand.

It's not easy to execute campaigns with that level of detail, but new targeting models are being introduced each year, so don’t give up on it just yet. Success in display advertising can be had by those who resist the natural tendency to aimlessly spray messages across the interweb with no regard to who may need to see it.

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