Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why b2b online advertising isn't working

Research published by the AOP claims that business to business web sites are the best place to stick your ads because decision makers use them a lot.

The PPA claims the same thing for business magazines. Who is lying?

You don't need to do research to intuitively work out that business readers have gone online at the expense of business magazine readership. Strangely the advertisers haven't followed as enthusiastically. Why?

1) A lot of business mag advertising was driven by seeing a competitors ad in the industry bible. Covering your competitor by matching their advertsing was a wise defensive approach. Today, a marketing director may not even notice where and when his competitors advertise on the web. Result - not much advertising. Solution - ad monitoring of b2b web sites. Now theres a business opportunity for someone.

2) We trained advertisers to expect certainty from cirulation management. We identified the top 20% of decision makers, persuaded them to request a copy of our magazine and then got the advertsisers to buy the idea that there message was seen by all the right people with no wastage. In the on line world most b2b websites don't know who their audience is. It's probably mostly the right people, but advertisers are sceptical.

3) On line ad inventory is poorly optimised for effectiveness. Marketing managers don't want advertising or even clicks- they want leads they can convert in to sales. The two are not necessarily the same.

4) B2B teams don't understand what they are selling.

5) Many trade advertisers wouldn't know what to do with an ad click if they got one. Until the potential advertisers develop a sophisticated trade web marketing strategy they will never get the habit of online advertising.

6) Online ad rates are too low (partly as a consequence of al the above) to support a compelling online edit strategy. To date b2b on line content has been subsidised by offline profits. As these profits dwindle we will need to solve the the conundrum of how to make the b2b business model work on its own.

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