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Ultimate Guide To B2B Programmatic Advertising

Are you a B2B Marketer wanting to learn more about how programmatic advertising can reach your highly niche target audience?

Perhaps your not quite seeing the returns you need with Google Ads and LinkedIn?

You’ve come to the right place to learn about how you can place highly relevant ads for your audience through the world of programmatic advertising.

B2B programmatic advertising is a digital marketing process that uses various technologies to deliver ads to business customers faster, more efficiently and with higher potential for return on investment.

The Challenge

To reach their target audience, B2C marketers have been using programmatic advertising techniques for many years, allowing them to develop highly relevant online advertisements and deliver them at scale and cost-efficiently.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said in B2B advertising, where we still see low or poor adoption of programmatic.

Advant Technology is a B2B programmatic agency that has shown many B2B marketers/agencies how effectively use the medium. We work with both agencies and clients direct.

The challenge we see is that many agencies typically push what they know instead of exploring the boundaries of what’s possible. The truth is programmatic advertising requires a more niche set of skills, and it’s more complex to grasp than LinkedIn, Google Ads and Facebook.

We, as consumers, see search ads all the time and LinkedIn ads all the time, so we naturally build a better understanding of these platforms. So naturally, as a B2B marketer, you lean into using what you feel most comfortable with, what you see and what you know; paid search, LinkedIn etc., CPL demand gen or a contextual takeover on a publisher home page. Sound familiar?

The Opportunity

LinkedIn, Google Ads etc., can be great, but you are probably missing a trick by not incorporating true programmatic advertising.

B2B brand marketers willing to learn about programmatic could see more leads, sales, and increased brand awareness.

How? by leveraging data properly giving you a competitive advantage.
This B2B programmatic guide aims to take you to teach you some of the basics and advanced B2B strategies.

The Background

In a post-pandemic era now more than ever, your audience is turning to a range of digital channels to make purchasing decisions about complex products and services, face to face selling is not as powerful as it once was, and this trend is only becoming exasperated. By digital channels, we mean websites, social media, email, white papers, and third-party resources from Gartner, etc.

As a B2B marketer, increasing your awareness and building trust through these channels is imperative. Programmatic advertising is one of the sharpest, most precise tools for influencing and nurturing leads.

How to run a B2B programmatic Campaign

There are many stages to running an effective campaign that will drive cost-efficient leads that your sales team will love.

Let’s go through the steps and deep dive into each of them.


Goals and objectives

Be clear about what you want to get out from programmatic. Try using SMART Goals, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

SMART Objectives
SMART Objectives

Map the B2B buyer journey

The B2B buyer journey will be unique to your organisation. By understanding your buyer journey, you’ll be able to identify how programmatic can be used along the journey to influence purchase behaviour. The buyer journey starts typically with problem identification. The user then begins to explore solutions, builds its requirements, and finally makes its selection.

Business customers make decisions by an increasingly larger cohort, meaning you must influence the buyer cohort across a larger group of decision-makers. It would be best to influence the whole audience across the buyer journey, including ensuring you are running lead generation and brand campaigns.

B2B Buyer Journey Example

Define your B2B target audience

Create an audience persona, this will help you think of your customer more humanly, and this information will prove valuable when targeting them. Remember, you need to look at all the decision-makers influencing a purchase, not just the final decisions maker.

  • What are their points?
  • What language do they speak?
  • What companies do they work at?
  • What content do they read on which sites do they spend time?
  • Who are their influencers?
  • What publications do they follow?
  • What language do they speak?
  • Where are they located?
  • What are their job functions?
  • What is their job seniority?
  • What industry do they work in?
  • What are they searching online? Stick to business searches
  • What are their job titles? Ensure you get all variations and look at local market nuance, a director in one country might be a VP in another.

Choose a Technology – Programmatic DSP & Partnerships with DMPs

Once you have defined your target audience, it’s time to start looking at a DSP that will place ads against your ideal target audience. Our media agency tends to use Google DV360, which has access to many B2B data segments.

New partnerships with DMPs need to be formed; the DMP will be the data overlay across your line items in the DSP.

You need to ensure the data partners can integrate with the DSP, and you need to ensure the DSP operates with high volume in the markets you are looking to reach decision-makers.

Check what kind of scale/reach you can run your campaigns. If you’re an advertiser spending millions across your marketing, it probably won’t make sense if you can only spend a few thousand a month in programmatic due to audience restrictions.

If the scale is too small, consider broadening your target audience.
Note most DSPs require around $100k a month in media spend but working with a programmatic agency can give you access to DSP technology at much lower marketing spend investment levels.

Build your creatives

Your creative strategy needs to be based on your audience and buyer journey.

Build your creative strategy and messaging that will resonate with who and what you are trying to influence. Think about the medium needed to convey the message video, display or native. The ad specs will depend on the DSP but here is a good guide.

Display Ads For B2B

When it comes to B2B programmatic advertising, display ads are the most popular format.

Display ads allow advertisers to combine text and graphic elements; suitable for communicating about complex solutions.

The size with the most reach is 300×250. If you are doing a brand awareness campaign, you should consider a 970×250 and a 300×600 which take more screen space and make a more significant brand impact.
If using display, build your ads in html5 or use a tool like as the transition between frames will be much smoother and look more professional than a GIF banner, your prospects will respond better to a well-designed ad.

Video Ads in B2B Advertising

Video ads are an excellent tool for B2B marketing. The formats you need to know are pre-roll and native video/outstream. Keep your video short and to the point.

Native Ads in B2B

The benefit of native adverts (content ads) is that they blend naturally with their surrounding environment on publisher sites. Native advertising has become widely acknowledged as an effective format for B2B because they provide a more authentic form of storytelling than display formats.

Native works well for white papers; CPMs are pretty low, but you can not convey vast amounts of information due to the title and character lengths, so keep the message and call to action simple.

Check out the playbook from IAB to learn more.

Interstitial Ads

You may want to think carefully before using interstitial ads, as they can be pretty invasive.

Setting up campaigns in the DSP

A clear set-up structure will give you greater clarity in your reports, allowing you to make informed optimisation decisions.

Typically the flow will look like this:

  1. Create the advertiser
  2. Export tracking pixels and send them to the web dev team for implementation on your website, who may decide to implement them directly to the page or via a tag management system like Google Tag Manager (GTM) or even Tealium if you subscribe to it. GTM is free, though.
  3. Integrate data from your CRM such as salesforce
  4. Ensure the pixels are firing correctly and collect audiences based on events.
  5. Create a campaign / Insertion order.
  6. Create multiple line items. Each line item should have a unique set of attributes such as targeting, these are your tactics for success. For example, one line item may use contextual targeting based on keywords. Another may use first-party data retargeting, and another may use third-party targeting using Bombora data. Clearly label your line item with a sensible taxonomy/naming convention so you can come back to it later on and see quickly and easily what the attributes were. When you set up 50 line items, you’ll soon see why a logical naming convention is so important.
  7. Define the bidding strategy/algorithms on your line item, you usually have a few options such as maximising; clicks, conversions, viewable impressions, time in view, completion rate, video views at 3 seconds, 10 seconds or completed views.
  8. Assign an ad fraud tool.
  9. Import your creatives assets such as a display ad / native ad.
  10. Submit your ads for approval by the ad exchanges.
  11. Assign your creatives to the line items. You may wish to use multiple ad formats and sizes per line item or have these granularly split out.
  12. Launch / Go live, the moment you have been waiting for!
  13. Reporting, export your report using dimensions and metrics important in achieving your KPIs. Use a reporting API tool that allows you to see the progress and results that have been generated visually.
  14. You must collect enough data before beginning optimisation. Optimise the campaign by adapting creativity, targeting strategies, bidding strategies and infrastructure, creating white lists and black lists, frequency capping or introducing new algorithms from third parties to automate the whole process.
    Having accurate data on board allows you to make more informed decisions with your marketing within this whole process.

Those are the basics of programmatic advertising in B2B. Now let’s look at some of the most effective targeting options that can be utilised;


Launching Campaign DSP
Step-by-Step DSP Launch Process

Those are the basics of programmatic advertising in B2B. Now let’s look at some of the most effective targeting options that can be utilised;

Firmographic Data Targeting

B2B organisations use Firmographic data to understand their target audience better and define the kind of people who should see their online advertising. This includes relevant data such as:

  • Industry sector
  • Status & Structure¬†
  • Location
  • Size – Revenue, employees etc

B2B Intent Data Targeting

As a marketer, you know that it’s essential to understand your target audience and intent. Successful marketers who use programmatic ads are aware of intent-based factors that can help them align their strategy. Intent data is overlaid on campaigns to reach audiences who are actively showing buying signals against a given topic area related to what you sell. Bombora is one such provider of effective intent data.

Target Account Lists (TAL) Targeting

Directly targeting a group of strategic accounts + usually some job title or function.
Technographic Data Targeting
The Technology Stack of a Business: Technographic Data is a tool for analysing a firm’s technology stack. What hardware and software do they utilise? Which tools and applications are they using? How are they integrating and utilising their various systems and platforms?

Third-party Data Providers?

Let’s check out some of the leading providers:


Can offer more granular targeting than LinkedIn.

Ziff Davis

Offers technology-based audiences in publishing, research and conferences.


The world’s leading source of commercial data on companies, empowering businesses to access trusted insights about their suppliers, competitors and customers.

HG Data

A firm that specialises in developing targeted marketing strategies for the technology buyer market

The death of the third party cookies and changes in Apples privacy policies will affect the scale and quality of B2B data, so it’s recommended to take a first-party first approach.

Combining these data providers and the power and cost-efficiency of programmatic helps us to deliver more qualified leads.

First-Party Data Targeting

The most valuable and impactful data you can use for programmatic advertising is the first-party data you already have in your CRM system. You can target contacts and accounts with this CRM data by first collecting it and labelling it through proper pixel implementation or data match upload.

Types of first-party data activation

  • Submitted a lead on your form
  • Downloaded white-papers and case studies
  • Website visitors
  • People who watched video content on your site
  • Email subscribers
  • People who have attended previous webinars
First Party Data Targeting the wake of the death of the cookie in 2023, advertisers can look to contextual programmatic marketing based on a white list of handpicked sites or based on keywords.

Contextual Targeting

In combination with some of the other methods discussed, contextual targeting allows us to deliver ads in the right environment, so not only are you reaching your audience in terms of job function, job title, company size etc. but also when they are consuming relevant content.

The example below on the left is a contextual ad. It was delivered to all of our technology buyers, targeting only publications that would be relevant to them and even more detailed down to the specific publication’s section they were most likely to read. Here you can see it has been receiving over a 1.3% CTR.

The third example is a technology buyer ad targeted to publications within the technology industry. As already discussed, you can drill down much further here to reach this particular audience. The CTR for these ads was over 1.13% CTR.

B2B Programmatic Advertising FAQs:


What Is Programmatic Advertising?

Programmatic advertising is the automated buying and selling of digital advertising, in contrast to the traditional method that involves human negotiations, it is structured to replace human negotiations with AI-optimization and machine learning.

The aim is to increase transparency and even efficiency for both the advertiser and the publisher. Programmatic advertising has helped to increase media buying efficiency.

What is a Demand Side Platform?

A DSP is a software platform that allows marketers to serve digital advertisements across display, mobile, social, video and native networks. It includes a mixture of automated and manual settings making buying extremely efficient. A DSP connects to publisher inventory through an ad exchange.

Why use a DSP?

A DSP is used to buy ad inventory in real-time from multiple sources, which gives you the ability to control your advertising spend while reaching your target audience using robust data across potentially thousands and thousands of sites.

A DSP can be used to create specific audiences based on actions they’ve taken on your site, such as downloading a white paper; these audiences can then be retargeted. DSPs access ad space inventory from all parts of the world.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

ABM is a strategic approach in which you focus your time and resources on a select group of accounts that are most likely to buy your products or services. In contrast, mass marketing targets all customers within a certain market segment.

With account-based marketing, you want to identify different accounts with potential and then develop a strategy for each.

How do B2B marketers use ABM to help their sales team?

ABM is helpful to “nurture” accounts since it allows you to create personalised campaigns that are relevant for each account’s stage in your sales cycle.

For instance, if an account has already raised its hand, they may be a viable candidate for your services. Using ABM, you would execute a campaign to nurture their interest and show them how you can help them meet their goals.

What is Programmatic Direct?

It is a purchase that’s made directly from a publisher website with negotiation, contracts and tenders going back and forth.

What is Real-time Bidding?

It is the process of buying and selling ads through an open bidding system in an auction-based format where no negotiation is required with the publisher who is selling the ad space via their SSP. Most inventory is bought this way.

What is Programmatic Guaranteed?

Is where there’s a fixed rate agreed upfront with the publisher, this isn’t done via an auction.

What are Private Market Place Deals?

It is a way for advertisers to buy ad inventory that’s not on the open exchange (real-time bidding) it tends to be sold by a publisher or media owner directly with closed access to a select group of buyers and still uses an auction system.

What is a Data Management Platform?

You’ll hear the term DMP thrown around a lot and it means data management platform. A DMP is a technology solution that manages and exchanges data.

It can create audience segments, which can then be used with other ad technology platforms for retargeting or targeting audiences.

Data in B2B advertising has come a long way and it’s without question the main reason why today programmatic B2B can be so powerful.

Should I use LinkedIn and Programmatic at the same time?

The ad ops team at Advant Technology has recently looked into the marriage between programmatic and LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a powerful channel in a B2B marketers weapons arsenal. LinkedIn advertising is great because it offers you the option to target particular users by country, industry, company size and position title.

LinkedIn advertising has great formats, including the carousel, video, single image and dynamic ads.

The challenge with LinkedIn is that it can be costly. CPMs can creep above $200USD+; at this kind of CPM, you need to get very high engagement rates to achieve a cost-efficient cost per lead.
What an effective cost-efficient cost per lead means to you will vary, so do the math and set your KPIs.

By contrast, programmatic advertising CPMs will be lower, and although CTRs will also be a bit lower in programmatic generally speaking, your effective CPCs should be better, how this translates to leads and revenue is something that probably needs testing. Make sure to use Google UTMs so you can analyse how LinkedIn compares to programmatic campaigns. Google UTMs will allow you to track the performance of a marketing channel by Source/medium within Google Analytics.

How can a B2B programmatic agency help me?

All of this sounds great but complex. I want to get involved, but I don’t have the time, team experience or knowledge. In comes –> programmatic agency –> in comes Advant Technology.

The goal of a programmatic agency is to help the advertiser navigate through all the steps discussed today.

Advant Technology can help with the end to end process for planning and buying for successful B2B programmatic. Contact us here!

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