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Capturing the research intent of users and aligning your messaging to their stated needs is a cornerstone of best-practice marketing. A demand-side platform (DSP) is a software platform that helps you buy ad space on the open market and allows you to bid on ad inventory in real time, significantly enhancing the process and the outcomes.

You may be thinking, ‘I already have a DSP. I use Google Ads.’ However, Google Ads, or to be precise, their DV360 media buying platform, along with other leading DSPs such as TradeDesk, are examples of B2C DSPs, designed for businesses that sell directly to consumers (B2C). But for those in the B2B space, this option is not fit for purpose. Unlike buying ads in social media environments, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, a B2B DSP focuses on buying premium placements on leading B2B news sites.

I’ve been building technology for this space for several years, including FunnelFuel’s specialist B2B DSP. Integrated end-to-end with our analytics and ABM monitoring platform, it provides a 360-degree view that supports an organisation’s overarching marketing strategy. I’m often asked by prospects and clients about the differences between our advertising solutions and those of our competitors. Fundamentally, that’s the same as asking what’s the difference between a B2B DSP and a B2C DSP. Here are the five main points of differentiation between the two, and the five key reasons why you need a B2B DSP.

1. Targeted data points

A B2B DSP generates insights based on ABM data points, enabling you to reach IT decision-makers (ITDMs) who are actively researching your products or services online. If you’re not using a B2B DSP, there’s a very good chance you’re not reaching your target audience.

With programmatic advertising, the insights revealed by its data can turn an ad impression from being worthless to being incredibly valuable. B2C DSPs lack the 360-degree data views of a B2B DSP, and therefore can’t identify the highly valuable and hard-to-identify ITDMs, C-suite and other segments that a B2B DSP can. Any client who wants to execute ABM optimally needs technological separation from what the generalist DSPs can do; which is B2B brand marketing.

2. Targeted audience reach

A B2B DSP allows you to target your ads to specific companies and job titles within those companies. Let’s say you sell marketing software. Standard DSPs measure performance with web cookies, which have an average shelf life of around 30 days. They lack the data insights and performance metrics that are crucial for B2B marketers. With a B2B DSP, you can target ads to marketing directors at tech startups in Silicon Valley.

B2B requires a much more integrated analytics solution, one that can build more persistent IDs with longer shelf lives that do not rely on cookie data. B2B needs analytics that can segment named accounts by their true funnel stage, which in turn requires detailed funnelling, goal building, action tracking and full cross-platform media attribution. Without this, any DSP or the person operating it, is buying impressions blind, which is unlikely to move the needle for any B2B client.

3. Tracked data

A B2B DSP allows you to track conversions and measure ROI to see which campaigns are performing well and which aren’t. This data can be found in top-class generalist media buying platforms like TheTradeDesk and MediaMath. However, because B2B represents only a very small proportion of their overall revenue, they haven’t invested in modifying their reporting to capture data such as named account interaction, clicks, views, etc. If they can’t report on it they can’t target by it and are therefore unable to deliver the precision media buying demanded by B2B.

B2C typically calls for huge scale, linked historically to cookie pools. B2C marketers typically have huge addressable markets based on factors like geography and basic demographics to identify key decision-makers in specific named accounts. In many ways, B2B is the polar opposite of B2C.

4. Access to exclusive data and inventory sources.

The era of ‘open programmatic’ is drawing to a close. B2B media was one area left behind by the ‘open era’. In the early days, real-time bidding (RTB) was linked to concepts like ‘remnant’ and higher fill at lower prices, which played a role in populating large news sites with lots of ads but failed to meet the needs of B2B publishers who command high-value audiences in limited quantities, and value alignment between their content, audience and ad products.

The programmatic pipes can be hugely beneficial for B2B buyers and sellers, which is why FunnelFuel has developed solutions for both sides of the market; a DSP and analytics platform for buyers, and pipework built around the same analytics for the sell side. It provides access to exclusive data and inventory sources that are not available on other platforms, such as Google Ads, enabling B2B marketers to reach their target audience with highly targeted ads via the channels and premium publishers they use for their research, and, importantly, where they make their purchasing decisions.

5. Specialist not generalist

In a world of privacy awareness, you need a specialist joined-up single platform that brings sellers and buyers into the marketplace rather than a generalist solution that bolts on to declining third-party data and providers.

A specialist B2B DSP

• allows you to reach decision-makers who are actively researching your products or services online in premium content sites dedicated to their niche with targeted ads; something that’s not possible with a B2C DSP like Google Ads.

• enables you to track named accounts and measure ROI so that you can see which campaigns are performing well and which ones need improvement; something else that’s not possible with generalist platforms.

• provides access to exclusive data and inventory sources that are not available elsewhere, enabling you to reach your target audience on the channels where they’re actually making purchasing decisions.

If you’re not using a B2B DSP your organisation is at a massive competitive disadvantage, and in today’s highly competitive marketplace that could mean the difference between success and failure.