Programmatic B2B Advertising: A Comprehensive Guide

If you are a B2B programmatic agency, it’s likely you already have a strong B2C clientele. But if you’re trying to build a client-base of B2B brands to utilise pragmatic advertising on, this is of course doable – but it may be a little more tricky.

The way we market is evolving all the time, and it’s important that we as both brands and agencies keep up with it. That means adhering to tried-and-tested strategies – and taking the occasional calculated risk.

If you or your B2B clients are wary of programmatic advertising – don’t be. It can hold much success. Let’s look into the hows and whys, and get you launching your first programmatic advertising campaign.

Programmatic Advertising: The Lowdown

If you’re not familiar with the concept of programmatic advertising, it simply is the process of automated buying and selling of digital advertising space.

Effectively, it is a quicker and more simplified way for advertisers and negotiators to display their ads on specific websites for a set period of time. While the idea behind old fashioned digital advertising space buying and selling was good, the methodology at the time was insufficient, and subsequently, the return-on-investment (ROI) wasn’t always fruitful. This was because each ad concept was based on decisions and estimations by the advertisers, which wasn’t always accurate or foolproof.

Where programmatic advertising works is – owing to algorithmic software – because these campaigns can be managed based on automatic collated data, which doesn’t entail the advertiser wiling away precious hours collecting the data themselves. AI does it for them – and in record time and across multiple channels and formats.

In a nutshell, marketing automation software unites the needs of both the marketer and the publisher to create a deal that is profitable for both parties – all at the click of a button (pretty much) – on site data that is incredibly reliable and accurate.

Programmatic Advertising: B2B vs B2C

Programmatic advertising works for both the B2B and B2C spheres, but there are a few nuances. Let’s break them down.


Programmatic advertising has been a marketing trend for a while now for the obvious reason that it helps consumer-focused brands advertise products/services on a mass scale, but it has certainly been a labour of love for many brands (particularly if the ads appear on certain pages, like hate speech videos, etc., which has dented the reputation of certain brands).

To tackle this issue, programmatic advertising software now gives users the option to blacklist certain websites they do not wish their campaigns to appear on. Despite these hiccups, it’s still a lucrative solution for B2C marketers. Here’s why:

  • Programmatic advertising allows a brand to market a product in an web-traffic-focussed approach to boost its sales.
  • Programmatic advertising is particularly beneficial to target internet users with a history of “impulse buying” (i.e.: their data doesn’t suggest they did much research before purchasing an item).
  • Unlike with B2B, the decision makers involved in B2C are often just one person, so the sales funnel is incredibly short, which makes this particular form of marketing successful.


Don’t be fooled into thinking that programmatic advertising is exclusively successful for B2C marketers. It’s becoming a hot topic for B2B. Here’s why:

  • Programmatic advertising allows B2B marketers to discern their audiences in a manner that allows for a digital space campaign that is cost-effective.
  • B2B marketers can target audiences at specific times (when their data indicates they’re most likely to convert).
  • Enabling the marketer to attack while the audience is in the conversion part of the sales funnel.
  • It helps provide essential information for other ABM (account-based marketing) tactics.

Differentiating Between Programmatic Direct & Real-Time Bidding

So, in case you were wondering; there is more than one type of programmatic advertising: there are two: programmatic direct and real-time bidding. Here’s a breakdown of both:

Programmatic Direct

This is the go-to, simplified method for advertisers who wish to purchase a preferred ad inventory. It is sold directly by the publisher, cutting out the bidding process of real-time bidding (which we’ll get to in a minute). The two approaches to programmatic direct are:

  • Unreserved fixed-rate deals, which allows the buyer to purchase a set-price block of inventory (and at first access).
  • Programmatic guaranteed deals, which allows the buyer to reserve an inventory at a set price.

Real-Time Bidding

Real-time bidding allows the purchaser automated buying of ad space in real-time via data collated by the page and the user. Once gathered, it goes to an ad exchange, and then the inventory is sold via an online auction to the highest bidder.

There are two platforms in which the ad exchange is accessible; these are:

  • SSPs (supply-side platforms): This allows publishers to access the ad exchange and display their ad inventory for auction.
  • DSPs (demand-side platforms): This allows both advertisers and publishers to access the auction and bid for digital advertising space.

How it Works:

A step-by-step guide to how bidding on ad exchange auctions works:

  • Publishers will list their ad space inventory via an SSP.
  • Advertisers will have discerned the type of audience they wish to target via their collated data.
  • Online cookies will collate and report the data of a user back to the ad exchange.
  • If the user’s data matches that of the outlined target audience, the advertiser will go to auction to bid against other advertisers.
  • Whoever wins the auction by offering the highest bid will receive the rights to advertise via the publisher’s web page/s.
  • The publisher receives a profit from the advertiser.

While this may seem rather time-consuming and long-winded, on the contrary it is extremely fast, as the data-matching process takes mere seconds.

Also, to reiterate how quickly programmatic advertising, often either approach is completely automated and requires little-to-no manual work from either party.

Why Programmatic Advertising is Good for B2B Marketers

Programmatic advertising works for B2B marketers because it provides crucial data that allows the marketer to target the decision-makers of companies, based on their browsing history.

With this data, the marketer can identify what websites the lead is likely to visit (and when), enabling them to create an ad on said websites to encourage conversion via the purchased DSP.

It is also useful for the busy B2B marketer because it can be automated and linked up within the brand’s automation software, making the process quick and seamless. The trick is selecting the right DSP, which will be both time-saving and cost-effective.

Garnering B2B Programmatic Advertising Success

So, if you’re sold on programmatic advertising for B2B marketing, here’s how to amplify your success (and profiting) with your first campaign.

Market Research

Before you embark on your programmatic advertising journey, it is imperative to first understand the marketplace you’re about to invest in – the way to do this? Market research, of course.

Be Clear on Your Objective

This is crucial to any marketing strategy – to understand the goal behind the campaign (brand awareness, lead generations, etc). Establish your objective before you begin – and stick to it. Changing it halfway through – or trying to achieve multiple goals in one campaign – will be counterproductive.

Don’t Rely Solely on AI

While programmatic advertising is a very tech-heavy approach to marketing, there still needs to be a human element to reach and appeal to your audience. However powerful and reliable artificial intelligence is, it lacks emotion, which is a fundamental part of successful advertising. Finding a balance between the two is the recipe for success.

Find the Right Sites

This means keeping an updated blacklist, er, list, so as to avoid advertising on sites that promote misinformation or anything controversial that could damage your brand’s rep.

Be Fraud-Aware

Unfortunately, one of the downers of programmatic advertisers is that it can attract fraudsters. Ways to avoid this include:

  • Not exchanging valuable information (such as bank details) too early on via ad reach.
  • Ensure your ads are compliant with all privacy regulations.
  • Adhere to the golden rule of anything: if an ad space bid looks too good to be true – it probably is!


As with any digital marketing campaign, regularly monitoring your ad’s success is vital. Part of your campaign management will be utilising successful and reliable KPIs (key performance indicators) to navigate how it’s doing.

The golden three to monitor are:

  • Return-on-investment (ROI)
  • Return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • Click-through conversion (CTC)


So, as you can see, programmatic B2B certainly has its benefits for B2B marketers. Just follow the above advice (market research, privacy compliance, and top campaign management), and you can’t go wrong. 

If you’d like to learn more about how we help B2B SaaS and Tech companies grow their MRR through online paid advertising, contact us online or send us an email today at to speak with someone on our team.

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