A Research Initiative To Understand the New Rules for Planning, Deploying, and Optimizing Media at Scale in A Modern B2B Enterprise

Marketing, media, and brand executives working in business-to-business (B2B) consistently cite complexity as a critical challenge making their jobs more difficult. Every day they tell us how the inherent interdependencies of marketing to businesses and enterprises have been compounded by the digitization of business, a revolution in advanced analytics, and an explosion of channels and media.  These realities have, in turn, redefined the rules of planning, deploying, and optimizing media at scale in a modern B2B enterprise.  Why?  Because complexity drives up the selling costs and reduces the yield marketers are getting on their growth investments and assets.

Although B2C companies make all the headlines in advertising, B2B enterprises invest hundreds of billions of dollars in paid media every year, attempting to grow revenues and expand their customer relationships.  Paid media still represents the largest single budget line item in the B2B marketing budget.  When factoring in spending on all or “omnichannel” media types – paid, owned, earned and shared media with partners – the total investment represents up to sixty percent of the modern B2B marketing mix, based on an analysis by Green Thread’s Revenue Enablement Institute.

Paid, owned, and earned media are powerful tools to generate reach and frequency and build brands.  Since B2B buyers now conduct 83% of the buying process in online channels, such media investments also drive digital engagement with business customers. Unfortunately, many marketing teams isolate the prioritization and activation of their media across different budgets and teams.  Also, they often don’t factor in the spending on content, data, and technology required to support the media campaigns, digital marketing and even sales channels that drive business impact.  At its heart, the cost, complexity, and importance of connecting and orchestrating media strategies becomes a THE challenge – and the opportunity.

The frequent failure to align and connect all these moving parts makes planning, deploying, and optimizing media at scale in a modern B2B enterprise extremely difficult. Traditional approaches to managing media in isolation are less effective because B2B marketing has evolved to become a capital intensive, digital, and data-driven team sport where digital marketing channels and the systems That support enable them play a major role in the B2B marketing mix. Research by the Revenue Enablement Institute show that paid, owned, earned and shared media together with the systems, data, content, and operations required to activate them now command two thirds of operating budgets. 

Changes in customer behavior over the last decade have only more amplified the situation. B2B buyers have become more informed, considered, digital, and demanding. Buyer research by Gartner tells us the average B2B buying cycle take months, involves six to ten buyer personas, and is guided by more rigorous financial and strategic criteria. More than three-quarters of business customers describe their purchase as very complex or difficult. Business buyers demand faster, more relevant, and expert answers to their questions while also needing a reason to believe and act. 87% expect sellers to act as trusted advisors by demanding expertise and rich content. Thanks to the digitization of business only 17% of the buyer journey involves human reps. And 43% of millennial buyers would prefer to conduct the whole process online with no humans involved if possible.

Together these dynamics have rendered established models for managing and optimizing the performance of media programs and investments at scale inadequate. B2B marketers we talk to are struggling to allocate, align, and orchestrate their investments in media to accelerate growth, maximize customer lifetime value, and differentiate their brands. Our conversations and research with B2B CMOs and their partners have elevated the priority of solving these challenges and harnessing the underlying opportunities.

Unfortunately, B2B media expertise is in relatively short supply. Most of the rules, tools, and best practices for planning, allocating, and activating media at scale have been developed in consumer markets where the media budgets are larger and upper funnel media spending is a big part of the growth formula. Consequently, most of the top marketing talent and the specialized media agencies have built their skills and capabilities around consumer advertising.   As a byproduct, B2B marketers are getting less access to talent, innovation, and attention at a time when they need it more than ever.

To help B2B marketing, brand, and media leaders better understand and address these issues, Green Thread – the business to business practice of Horizon Media – i is conducting the B2B Media Research Initiative.The work is on-going, and we share the results with our clients and study participants.  This research initiative validates and quantifies the financial impact and performance of media in the modern B2B enterprise.  Learning from the experts in the field, we also want to identify the best practices for managing, optimizing, and maximizing the impact of media programs at scale on growing revenues, customer lifetime value, and firm financial performance.

We welcome growth leaders who want to participate in this research, learn from our findings and access our network of peer CMOs.  Please register your interest using the link below.

You can learn more about Green Thread at this link.

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