The Oracle Data Cloud blog highlights the latest data-driven insights and trends in digital marketing and ad tech.

  • October 20, 2016

B2B industry pressures shaping the next decade of agency-client relationships

This week’s guest blog is contributed by Deniz Olcay, Product Marketing Manager, Dun & Bradstreet.

Marketing and advertising technologies (MadTech) are transforming the agency-client relationship as we know it. 150 players back in 2011 have increased to a dizzying swarm of 3,500 companies, growing by 87% this year. But that’s not the whole story.

The forces driving this change are in plain sight: B2B brands and their buyers.

Think of the last time you bought a TV. How many friends did you call? Did you visit a store? Marketers are confounded by the complexity of these interactions and how they’re influencing buying.

Now take that journey and add 10 decision makers, 12 months, and about $200K and you have a B2B buying journey. Keeping this in mind (and that 58% of US brands will review their agencies in the next 12 months), agencies must drop B2C preconceptions and grasp B2B complexities.

Buyers: Quicker, More Confident Decisions

Business audiences, influenced by consumer experiences, want buying experiences that enable quicker and more confident decisions. While it’s known that 74% of buyers do more than half their research online before a purchase, what’s elusive is what online and offline interactions say about the account as a whole.

Digital connectivity will continue to create scads of touchpoints to manage. This creates a tantalizing opportunity for agencies: Create a seamless online and offline buying experiences, and you’ll attract B2B clients.

B2B Brands: Stronger Business Results

Marketers are tasked with more responsibility to drive organizational growth than ever before. This year, B2B marketing and advertising budgets will increase by 5% to $161 billion, with digital making up 52 percent (1). It’s no wonder B2B marketers are laser-focused on driving results.

Case in point: the rise of Account Based Marketing (ABM). 71% of marketers rate ABM as one of their most important revenue-generating strategies. “Data and technology now allow B2B marketers to align with sales and execute ABM at scale. Since they’re increasingly measured on revenue impact, they’re more incentivized to drive higher-quality leads. But they need to prove their efforts through attribution,” says Sean Crowley, Director of Product Marketing at Dun & Bradstreet.

Agencies must lift barriers to attribution by being fully transparent about data and tactics used. 90% of the top 200 US advertising brands are looking for agencies that can create a relevant strategy and deliver results. Firms that can’t, risk losing business to B2B brands that will bring functions like programmatic advertising in-house for more control.

MadTech Companies: A Single Customer View

MadTech is growing in configuration complexity. The combination of various tech platforms are creating data and team-based silos for marketers who aren’t executing a robust master data management (MDM) strategy.   

Therefore, tech solutions are becoming increasingly integrated. Based on research from Luma Partners, Q1 of 2016 saw 72 M&A events in MadTech. Once these platforms are combined with maturing predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities, tech players will inch closer to providing marketers with a single customer view for intelligent decision making.

But marketers can’t afford to wait. It’s time for media-buying agencies to add strategic MadTech stack consulting to their service menus and start acquiring tech-savvy talent.  

What’s Next for Agencies?

We shouldn’t lose sight of the broader relationship between B2B brands and their buyers. Agencies must develop a deeper understanding of the complexities of the B2B buying journey and how data and technology fit into that picture. Those who do will steal the spotlight from MadTech by driving results for clients.

About Deniz Olcay

Deniz Olcay is a Product Marketing Manager at Dun & Bradstreet, a data partner for 90% of the Fortune 500. Deniz is a passionate ad tech thought leader and sales enablement expert tasked with educating the D&B organization on all things digital. His prior experience includes working for a global sales consulting firm, where he’s trained thousands of sellers on how to better communicate value. He holds a MBA from Babson College, where he received his degree in Marketing with high honors.

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(1) “Annual Advertising and Marketing Study 2016: B2B Advertising” Outsell, Inc. March 2016.

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