The Top 5 Reasons Why You Need a B2B DSP & Why Generalist Platforms Don’t Work For B2B Marketers

If you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering what a DSP is and why you need one. A DSP, or demand-side platform, is a software platform that helps you buy ad space on the open market. In other words, it allows you to bid on ad inventory in real-time. Unlike buying ads in social media environments, like LinkedIn and Twitter, a B2B DSP focusses on buying premium placements on the worlds leading B2B news sites. Capturing the research intent of users and aligning your messaging to their stated needs is a cornerstone tactic that we use at FunnelFuel, but today we’re looking at the pitfalls of generalisation and upsides of specificity.

Sounds great so far, right? But you might be thinking, “I already have a DSP. I use Google Ads.” And while that’s true, Google Ads or more precisely their DV360 media buying platform, as well as the other leading DSPs like TradeDesk and MediaMath are actually examples of a B2C DSP. That means it’s designed for businesses that sell directly to consumers. But what if you’re in the business-to-business (B2B) space?

As a Co-Founder of FunnelFuel, and somebody who has ben making technology for this space for the last five years, prospects and clients often ask me about the differences between FunnelFuel’s advertising solutions and that of our competitors, a question which essentially boils down to the differences between a B2B DSP and a B2C DSP. The short answer is that FunnelFuel has heavily invested in building a specialised B2B demand-side platform (DSP). And it’s integrated end-to-end with the FunnelFuel analytics and ABM monitoring platform, providing a 360 degree view which supports an organisation’s overarching marketing strategy. Whereas mainstream DSPs typically used by other ABM providers are point solutions built primarily for less focused B2C outcomes.

What does a B2B DSP Like FunnelFuel do which a mainstream B2C DSP can not?

1. Generate insights based on ABM data points and enable you to reach decision-makers who are actively researching your products or services online.

A recent study found that 79% of B2B buyers conduct extensive online research before making a purchase decision. So, if you’re not using a B2B DSP, there’s a good chance you’re not reaching your target audience—the decision-makers who are actively researching your products or services online.

When it comes to programmatic advertising, its data and the insights this data reveals, which turns an ad impression from being worthless to incredibly valuable. B2C DSPs don’t have the 360 degree data views that FunnelFuel has, meaning they can’t identify the super-valuable and ever so hard to locate ITDM, C-suite and other such segments that FunnelFuel can.

This means that any client who wants to execute ABM optimally needs technological separation from what the generalist DSPs can do – which is brand marketing.

2. You need to reach your target audience with targeted ads and measure the long sales cycles that come thereafter

A B2B DSP allows you to target your ads to specific companies and job titles within those companies. For example, let’s say you sell marketing software. With a B2B DSP, you can target ads to marketing directors at tech startups in Silicon Valley. This is great however ultimately most participants in this space know that the sales cycle, especially for enterprise solutions, can be painfully long.

Standard DSPs measure performance with web cookies, which have an average shelf life of <30 days. They simply lack the data insights and performance metrics that really matter to B2B marketers.

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

3. Reporting toolkits need modifying – you need to track data like named account lift alongside the more regular conversions and ROI measurements

A B2B DSP gives you the ability to track conversions and measure ROI so that you can see which campaigns are performing well and which ones need improvement. This is vital for any business that wants to grow and scale its marketing efforts efficiently. However this is also data which you get in the top class generalist media buying platforms like TheTradeDesk and MediaMath.

However because B2B amounts to a very small part of their overall revenue, they have not undertaken the work needed to modify their reporting to capture data like named account interaction, clicks, views and then everything that goes on thereafter.

And where they can’t report on it they also can’t target by it, meaning that they are unable to deliver the super-precise media buying that B2B needs.

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 – such as U.K based men over the age of 30. As their target audiences also falls into people who receive gifts, because like us all they have birthdays and other holidays to celebrate, meaning that some wider targeting is absolutely fine. In so many ways, B2B is the polar opposite. We’re seeking über precision, looking to identify key decision makers in specific named accounts. As these individuals are SO hard to find, we need to measure the impact of our ads to the nth degree.

B2B media buying and reporting solutions like FunnelFuel can afford to report in great detail [vs generalist platforms] because we are not measuring in anything like the volumes that they are. We trade depth and precision vs raw volume. It wouldn’t be cost effective or viable to do both. 

4. You need access to exclusive data and inventory sources.

In many ways, it is now likely that the era of ‘open programmatic’ is drawing to a close. Whilst digital pipework and connectivity works for all, the specifics of open RTB have created few winners. Like most new technology, programmatic has and continues to roll through a number of iterations before it really works.

B2B media was one area that the ‘open era’ left behind. Early days RTB was linked to concepts like ‘remnant’ and higher fill at lower prices, which played a roll in stuffing large news sites with lots of ads, but did precious little to fit the needs of B2B publishers who command super-high value audiences in limited quantities.

B2B publishers did not and do not want to fill their pages with $0.50 CPM programmatic backfill ads for irrelevant B2C offers. They have always valued alignment for their content, audience and ad products, and the value of these audiences command a much higher rate.

At FunnelFuel we know the programatic pipes can be a huge benefit for B2B buyers and sellers. Its why we have built solutions for both sides of the market; a DSP and analytics platform for buyers, and sell side pipework built around the same analytics for the sell side. The ability to build sell side 1st party audiences around the incredible detail that our segmentation enables, is a ‘programmatic’ game changer for B2B publishers. Leveraging this data to extend into wider high value areas is an obvious step, benefitting both sides of the marketplace.

Therefore our B2B DSP gives you access to exclusive data and inventory sources that are not available on other platforms, such as Google Ads. This means that you can reach your target audience with highly targeted ads on the channels and in the highly premium and richly aligned publishers that they’re using for their research —the ones where they’re actually making purchasing decisions.

5. In a world of privacy awareness you need a joined-up single platform of record which brings sellers and buyers into the marketplace – not a generalist solution that bolts on declining third party data and providers

The third party data era is over. Well not quite, but its journey of travel is clear to see. Middleware data is getting attacked from all sides; government level legislation, technology advancements, cookies dying, users opting out. 1st party data from the sell side has never been more valuable.

As our competitors try and keep their solutions relevant, relying on third party providers, we’re busying expanding our B2B ecosystem of premium publishers, and bringing technology that genuinely empowers them to build their data and mobilise it for activation.

What’s so special about the FunnelFuel solutions?

B2B is our exclusive focus. We pride ourselves on truly being end to end; both in terms of working with publishers through to advertisers, but also in terms of offering solutions that wrap around media buying – powering targeting, ad measurement and on-site behaviour with our enterprise B2B analytics. We pride ourselves on building technology exclusively for this space which is made explicitly for it, and we have countless examples of how that drives growth for B2B publishers and advertisers alike.

As a business-to-business (B2B) company, it’s essential that you use a B2B DSP to buy ad space on the open market and increasingly in scarcely available B2B private market places (PMP’s). A B2B DSP will allow 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. Additionally, a B2B DSP will give you the ability to track named accounts as well as ‘the usual stuff’ like conversions 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. Finally, a B2B DSP gives you access to exclusive data and inventory sources that are not available elsewhere—giving you the ability to reach your target audience on the channels where they’re actually making purchasing decisions. In short, if you’re not using a B2B DSP, you’re missing out on some serious advantages over your competition—advantages that could mean the difference between success and failure in today’s competitive marketplace.

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