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What the transformation of B2B ad spending means for marketers

B2B ad spending is expected to grow at a higher rate than we previously forecast, as pre-pandemic activities like trade shows once again see budget share and ad buyers in this market more permanently shift to digital media, said our analyst Kelsey Voss on a recent “Behind the Numbers” podcast.

We now expect B2B ad spending to hit $14.32 billion in 2022.

“Digital advertising has proven itself to be a great strategy during tough economic times. While less ad spending may flow to experimentation during tough times, digital ad spending will not decrease,” said Voss. “In addition, spending on other marketing activities such as events will not steal from digital ad allocations. Instead, these funds will come from other sources.”

Other major milestones:

  • Digital ads will make up nearly 50% of all B2B ad spending by 2024.
  • 83% of B2B buyers prefer ordering or paying ordering or paying through digital commerce, according to Gartner.
  • Display will surpass search to account for a greater share of B2B advertising in 2023.

LinkedIn is driving the shift to display. “LinkedIn will capture nearly 50% of all display ad spending by 2024,” said Voss, pointing out the increased role the platform held during the pandemic. “When all interactions went 100% virtual, LinkedIn became the place to be. The platform provided an excellent way to connect with other professionals, attract talent, and support remote selling.”

With the deprecation of third-party cookies and changing privacy laws, B2B marketers have a better chance of reaching their audiences on LinkedIn without facing violations, she added.

Unexpected trend: 2023 will mark the first year more than 50% of digital B2B ads will be placed on mobile, and Voss said that surprised her. Conventional wisdom says B2B buyers are tied to their desktops and laptops. But B2B buyers are changing.

“The lines have blurred between how buyers behave when making business versus personal purchases. Traditional B2B marketing strategies no longer resonate as well with buyers,” said Voss. “They expect a consumer-like buying experience.”

That shift is playing out in the top three marketing tactics B2B marketers are focused on:

  • Personalized content and offers
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • Virtual events and webinars

“It kind of goes back to the shift from B2B tactics to B2C tactics with personalized messaging, customer centricity, focusing on the customer, focusing on the needs of the customer, and thinking about what they want,” said Voss.

Listen to the full podcast.


This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more retail insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.