Increasing Programmatic Spend Highlights Issues Across The Ad Ecosystem

Published: December 7, 2018

Vikram A HighResWith the rise of data-driven marketing and campaign automation, programmatic advertising has become more prevalent among savvy marketers. It has moved from being a novelty to a mature industry standard. Recent research found that 63% of B2B marketers said they are buying or selling advertising programmatically. While that number is comparable year-over-year, spend among those using programmatic continues to rise, with 61% of marketers saying they will increase spending in the coming year.


As spending increases and more campaigns are being executed programmatically, shortcomings are becoming more obvious. Underlying many of the challenges is the fact that B2B companies are still having trouble harnessing data efficiently. That includes having the right data and being able to share that data across departments and systems in their organization for a holistic customer account view. Over a third of respondents in the aforementioned survey cited siloed or inaccessible customer data, integration of marketing and sales platforms, incomplete customer data and lack of data expertise as obstacles to succeeding with data-driven marketing.

It comes as no surprise that, with lack of quality data and integration capabilities, many companies are finding it difficult to target the right audiences or measure their campaign success.

Rounding out the list of top three challenges is the lack of programmatic skills. This skill gap is something that’s often overlooked and needs to be more of a priority for any company executing programmatic campaigns and more so as companies start looking to bring programmatic in-house. In my own experience, I have seen companies have data in place, get programmatic campaigns set up and ready to run, then not be able to manage things well because they lack the in-house resources to do so.

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Agencies Versus Brands

Because of the skills and resources it takes to run programmatic campaigns effectively, one of the trends has been for brands to hire agencies to execute their programmatic buying and selling of ads and ad space. While there has been much talk lately about brands bringing programmatic in-house, the study shows that brands may not be ready to take over the load just yet. B2B agencies still appear to be ahead of their brand counterparts in most data-driven tactics. For instance, 42% of agencies currently use predictive analytics compared to only 28% of brand marketers. In addition, 58% of agencies say they’re currently doing real-time campaign optimization, compared to 39% of brands. And, while both brands and agencies have similar difficulties, brand marketers are much more challenged by targeting (49% versus 32% of agencies) and programmatic execution (37% versus 27% of agencies).

Improving Programmatic Success

You simply cannot achieve programmatic success without the right data foundation. Ninety percent of survey respondents agreed that the use of data and analytics is changing how they approach marketing and advertising. The next step is to get that data in order with a proper data strategy and execution. Starting with quality data that has been standardized and shared across the organization, the single view of the customer is critical to the programmatic process, as well as other key marketing initiatives such as ABM.

In the B2B world, in addition to understanding the individual you are interacting with, it is also extremely important that individual customer actions are tied to an account for a more holistic account view. The actions that one employee has taken is only one part of the actions that the entire buying team across the organization takes over the course of the sales process. It is therefore necessary to be able to match individuals back to the accounts they represent and track the engagement at the account level. Having the right data assets that allow you to do so have become critical to success.

Finally, whether you plan to bring your programmatic process in house or whether you plan to continue to work with agencies and other partners, it’s necessary to build programmatic skills within your marketing teams so you can take the best action, measure the programs effectively and give your partners feedback on changes to make the programs more effective.

As programmatic advertising becomes a staple in modern marketing, B2B businesses need to mature their data processes and skill sets to keep up with the increasingly complex technology and processes that are being used in programmatic campaigns. Assess whether your business has the expertise and resources to execute campaigns on your own or whether it makes sense to partner with others in the ad supply chain. The more companies spend on programmatic, the more critical it becomes to plan, test, measure and adjust to make sure you are getting the most from every campaign, every click and every dollar you put in.

Anudit Vikram is the SVP of Audience Solutions at Dun & Bradstreet, and is responsible for leveraging the company’s vast commercial and contact data assets to solve sales and marketing challenges in the physical and the digital world. Prior to Dun & Bradstreet, he led digital technologies from the inception of ad exchanges and programmatic buying with Right Media/Yahoo!

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