Upwardly mobile: B2B advertising in the era of the smartphone generation – Tabmo

Traditionally the domain of consumer-focused advertising, mobile is increasingly recognised by B2B brands as a highly effective channel for their offerings.

Here, Shanil Chande, head of agency sales at TabMo  (pictured left) and Katy Maloney, head of Maxus for Business (right), discuss this trend and the critical factors to getting it right.

SC: Five years ago we wouldn’t have been having this conversation because mobile advertising was almost solely focused on the consumer market. What do you think has influenced the rise of mobile use among a B2B audience?

KM: Simply by nature of a time poor and on-the-go audience, we have seen a seismic shift to mobile consumption. This is coupled with the expanding demographic – a new generation of business people – that is increasingly young and has grown up with mobiles being a given in their working life to date.

In short, we have a bigger audience that is increasingly mobile-focused; it’s hugely important therefore for planners to consider mobile as a dedicated marketing channel.

SC: The B2B audience may be permanently plugged in to their mobile, but it’s still a very personal device. Does business-focused advertising really work?

KM: The personal nature of mobile devices acts to the advantage of B2B marketing because messaging can be highly targeted and specific; for example we can reach people based on their job title, the industry they work in, the company they work for, etc.

Because B2B brands often have very niche audiences, this granular level of targeting is invaluable. It means that advertisers don’t waste impressions on users that aren’t relevant.

In addition, more and more business publishers understand that their audience is mobile-focused. This is increasing the amount of premium mobile inventory available, and therefore the opportunities for B2B advertising.

But business-focused advertising also works because today’s sophisticated technology means it doesn’t have to be boring! As long as all the elements (data, technology, media and creative) work together to deliver the best possible user experience, mobile platforms such as TabMo provide the opportunity for really human and relevant interactions to occur.

SC: Does the unique nature of mobile, which marries digital and physical footprints, help with driving engagement?

KM: Most people are familiar with the concept of targeting audiences when they are in the vicinity of a specific place. But historical location data can also be used to make sure that the ad will be relevant to that person.

Looking at where a device has been over a period of time gives anonymous insight into where the device owner lives, works, spends time, etc. Mapping this with personally unidentifiable offline data provides advertisers with a much clearer picture of who they are reaching; this is as critical for B2B campaigns as it is for consumer-focused equivalents.

Location adds an unprecedented level of data and therefore insight that helps to ‘get it right’. This is crucial to drive engagement and significantly eliminate campaign wastage.

SC: How does real-time location-based advertising feature in campaigns?

KM: Location data also means we can introduce context to the targeting equation.

In addition, people can be targeted and re-targeted thanks to location data. This has worked really well for various events; for example in the lead up to a conference, hotels in the area are ring-fenced so that people attending receive relevant reminders before and during the show, as well as practical information about the city they are in such as transport links and where to eat and drink. Once the event is over, relevant follow-up messages help to re-engage attendees.

SC: The creative element is a big focus for TabMo. Do you see benefits in generating different creatives depending on the location and context in which it is shown?

KM: Bespoke creatives, depending on where someone is and what they are doing, are another way to maximise audience engagement. For example, during the day, in recognition that people are busy and work-focused, a low-impact, non-intrusive ad might be shown; this is followed up in the evening when they potentially have more time with a richer, more interactive version. Historic understanding of the type of creative a user has engaged with previously ensures content is delivered in their preferred format.

It’s also really important that the creative is suitable for the mobile format; re-using other digital (or TV) assets rarely works well and jeopardises the effort that has been put in to carefully targeting the right audience in the first place.

SC: We often hear that programmatic leads to a lack of control and transparency around inventory. Has Maxus for Business found this to be the case?

KM: Naturally there is a heightened concern with automated buying that advertisers lose control over the placement of their ads and the context in which they are seen. However, we have worked very closely with our clients and partners to ensure two key element; firstly we only work with premium partners with direct APIs (such as TabMo) or clean and vetted site environments, and secondly we have implemented verification technology to allow us to monitor and report on viewability, ad fraud and brand safe delivery of any inventory. This is important to all brands, but even more so from a B2B perspective where it is hugely damaging to be associated with any negative sentiment.

Through mobile and working with TabMo we’ve been able to provide unprecedented access to premium publishers and complete transparency about where the ad has been shown, combined with sophisticated audience targeting based on location data. The partnership is highly effective – and brand safe. The key is to work with best-in-market technology providers that deliver third party verification and brand protection. As referenced above, it’s an upward spiral – there is more premium mobile B2B inventory as publishers realise it has a growing audience.

SC: What benefits do you feel a B2B agency team can provide to clients?

KM: In terms of planning mobile, and integrating it seamlessly with digital and offline strategies that reflect the nuance of business audiences, it’s important to have a specialist and end-to-end B2B team. This ensures mobile isn’t an add-on and works from a strategic perspective within the wider media strategy.

SC: What other opportunities does mobile advertising offer the B2B sector?

KM: Video, social media and content are primarily consumed via mobile, which offers interesting real-time targeting opportunities, particularly given our strategy to ring-fence events and key business areas for clients as this combination can be very powerful.

In any B2B decision, buyers engage via multiple touchpoints and a variety of content forms before making a purchase. Mobile content strategy can therefore be pivotal in developing an emotional connection and warm leads before any direct response conversion tactics are employed.

SC: Thank you. We’ll watch this space!