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Top 2016 Predictions for B2B Digital Advertising

Top 2016 Predictions for B2B Digital Advertising 2

The verdict is in: 2016 will be the year that B2B marketers ramp up digital advertising efforts based on marketplace advances and greater understanding about areas such as programmatic, mobile and more. Some IAB B2B Committee members shared their predictions for 2016 and four overarching and overlapping focal areas emerged:

Top 2016 Predictions for B2B Digital Advertising 1






Predictions (alphabetical by company):

We’ll continue to see the arbitrary siloing of paid and owned media break down. Marketers want to coordinate their messaging across channels whether that be through targeted ads or triggered emails. The open marketing and ad tech ecosystems will need to work together to solve interoperability problems and ushers in the MADtech era.  -Adam Berke, President & CMO, Adroll

AdTech innovation will lead the industry away from Assault Advertising to Consensual Advertising. The winners will make ads relevant and useful at the place and time of consumer desire, and the cost per validated view will rise AT LEAST 10x. –Randall Tinfow, CTO, Click-Video

B2B Marketing as a wider discipline will be positioned by at least one leading Marketing Cloud software vendor, improving B2B’s overall air cover. Separately, Account Based Marketing will be one of the highest growth trends within B2B because attributing marketing campaigns to large closed deals just makes great business sense. B2B Marketers will start to expand their media mix beyond Events, Search and Lead Gen., essentially B2B will start scaling Display & Native.  This will force the need to join the email nurturing channel to Display Nurturing and Website nurturing channels. –Louis Moynihan, VP of Product Innovation, Demandbase (and IAB B2B Committee Co-Chair)

B2B marketers will embrace the account-based marketing model, effectively building it into their 2016 strategy. This will impact how they buy media and target users, the events they will attend and host, and most importantly be reflected in messaging. Content will be more tailored to the specific needs of individual enterprises. -Michael Goldberg, Global Director of Content Marketing, Dun & Bradstreet

2016 will be the year that buying addressable TV through a programmatic platform becomes real and opens up broadcast TV to B2B brands at scale.Robert Ray, President, DWA Media

B2B ad dollars will continue to shift to digital, although the majority of spend will not yet be through programmatic buying. Paid video on social, mobile and data-driven tactics to track true ROI will be of high importance in 2016. In addition to driving direct sales, B2B marketers are looking to own their audience through digital content, rather than rent it. –Jillian Ryan, Analyst, eMarketer

2016 will be the flight to quality. We will see a lot of companies disappear or get acquired that have me too technology. We will see B2B Marketers & Advertisers really focused on understanding who truly has the best content, actionable and real 1st party data, who can provide relevant and valuable business insights that help inform strategy and measure results. If you have been built for the mobile age, have high quality content and real 1st party data, 2016 will be a great year.  –Steven Rosenblatt, Chief Revenue Officer, Foursquare

Many programmatic platforms are now offering CPVM (cost-per-viewable-impression), demonstrating the industry’s desire to ensure quality results, which is becoming increasingly important in the age of content blindness, ad blocking and ad fraud. The natural next step in this process is to start providing inventory that is guaranteed to actually be seen, as opposed to just viewable in the user’s line of sight. In 2016, we’ll see more platforms offering measurement (for example eye tracking studies) in this area. –Ben Plomion, SVP Marketing, GumGum

Expect cross-platform measurement to move toward becoming the standard for campaigns, unifying mobile and desktop. Also, viewability will continue to evolve, and 78% of respondents to our end-of-year survey say they plan to buy/sell media based on viewability in 2016. However, fraud will remain a big issue as it continues to get more sophisticated, not only feeding off of viewability KPIs but also mimicking new engagement tracking metrics. –Scott Knoll, CEO, Integral Ad Science

2016 will see more C-level executives taking on the role of brand ambassador, not just in the boardroom, but also in social media. Whether through blogging, or just active sharing on distribution networks like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, being the figurehead of your organization, and building a set of Sr. level brand ambassadors to similarly deliver Thought leadership across social channels is likely to explode. We’re talking about going way beyond the current expectations – a Twitter account, a LinkedIn profile, etc. We’re going to see more organizations harnessing content from employees and leaders to fuel salesforces, connect future talent to hiring managers, and shift brand perception amongst consumer audiences. This will definitely have ramifications not only in the realm of B2B content marketing, but also across the war for talent and employee advocacy. –Andrew Goldman, Global Partner Lead, Agency Holding Companies, LinkedIn (and IAB B2B Committee Co-Chair)

The outlook is Cloudy, with a capital “C.” In the past several years we’ve seen an immense amount of VC and private equity money flood cloud-based solutions. At the same time, legacy firms are pivoting to the cloud. This is a radical technology shift that isn’t ending anytime soon. Like the self-hosted technologies before it, cloud-based solution providers will need demonstrate the benefits of the technology and generate awareness if they’re too succeed. They will need firmly establish their brands to differentiate themselves from their competitors and prove ROI if they are to succeed. –Tom O’Regan, CEO, Madison Logic

B2B Marketers will continue working with select premium Publishers through direct sales channels because mindset and contextual relevance are valuable attributes that still cannot be purchased effectively through programmatic buying. However, the demand for data-driven solutions from advertisers will drive publishers to create new ad products that leverage publishers’ first party data along with second and third party data more aggressively and insightfully to meet client objectives. –Steven S. Suthiana, Global Head, Digital Media and Operations, Mansueto Ventures LLC (and IAB B2B Committee Co-Chair)

With more targeting options and a steady shift to all things digital, B2B marketers should loosen their purse strings to target decision-makers at the right time, right place, and right price point. The B2B data floodgates have now opened up, giving marketers more targeting options including a wide array of firmographic data combined with a broad range of intent data. Now that the right tools and data points are available, next year, more B2B markers should take advantage and execute full funnel marketing, giving each stage of the decision making process the proper consideration and budget allocation. –Ethan Simblist, Director/Digital Advertising, MeritDirect, LLC

I think there will be a push from advertisers buying sponsored content from publishers to have that content be part of a distribution strategy – either the publishers’ or their own. It’s advantageous for all parties because the publishers can deploy their audience dev teams on a more revenue-focused activity while agencies get more eyeballs for their brand clients. -Joe Webster, Head of Business Development, SmartBrief

This will be the most exciting year for the Post-Programmatic companies. Those who are not doing Data Science, Machine Learning and the OpenRTB will be left behind. I believe that Data combined with the strong user-experiences will bring new ad formats into live. Content, Radio and OOH will adopt some of the Programmatic trading principles. By the end of the year a lot of Media Buying won’t be done by people, and will be replaced by the machines with strong focus on ROI and KPIs.  –Ivan Guzenko, Co-Founder, General Manager USA, SmartyAds LLC


As the IAB lead for the B2B Committee, it is clear that while the digital advertising gap for B2B vs. B2C is narrowing, there is still a good deal of education needed on key areas such as programmatic and mobile. The committee will be meeting on February 17 to set the 2016 strategic agenda with the goal of producing documents and hosting events designed to help publishers, SMB and enterprise businesses navigate the rapidly evolving B2B digital space.


Susan Borst
Head of Social and Content Marketing Solutions
at IAB