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Programmatic Ads and Lead Generation: The Yin and Yang of Demand Gen

Intent Data  |  Demand Generation  |   November 9, 2021  |  by David Crane

Programmatic Ads and Lead Generation: The Yin and Yang of Demand Gen

Integrated B2B marketing programs are nothing new. In fact, as account-based marketing (ABM) strategies have risen to prominence over the past seven or so years, integrated marketing efforts have gained a lot of steam.

Surprisingly, however, some marketing channels that should go hand in hand remain siloed across a significant number of marketing organizations. This is especially true of programmatic advertising and paid lead generation efforts like content syndication. [Note: By content syndication, I’m referring to the marketing tactic of working with media partners who distribute your branded content to generate qualified leads, and paying those partners on a cost per lead (CPL) basis.]

Why is the disconnect surprising? Programmatic and content syndication greatly complement each other’s weaknesses. Programmatic ads are a great way to generate broad brand and solution awareness among targeted accounts. But you’re unlikely to acquire the decision-maker contact data you need to convert those accounts into sales pipeline opportunities.

Content syndication, on the other hand, is a great way to get those all-important warm leads needed to nurture accounts into opportunities. However, you probably won’t be able to surround enough influencers and decision-makers with content syndication alone. That’s why it’s so powerful when used together with programmatic advertising.

Unfortunately, digital marketing teams typically own programmatic efforts, while demand generation teams handle content syndication and other paid lead gen channels. This often results in inconsistent messaging, creating confusion among your target audiences about your solutions’ values and benefits.

B2B marketing organizations who run paid lead generation campaigns in tandem with programmatic efforts see big wins.

Four Big Benefits of Integrating Programmatic and Paid Lead Gen

1. Boosts impact of the individual channels

When programmatic and content syndication are run jointly, there’s a much greater chance that your messaging and content will get in front of AND resonate with decision-makes at targeted accounts.

As briefly mentioned above, programmatic display impressions—even when precisely targeting specific accounts—usually generate little contact data (i.e., leads), which your demand gen and BDR teams need to nurture accounts into sales opportunities.

According to SiriusDecisions/Forrester, “Average-performing digital display ads tend to have CTRs in the range of .03 to .06 percent.” Very little pipeline should be expected from programmatic investments alone. Instead, programmatic advertising is best used to grease the demand funnel. Synchronized with lead generating channels like content syndication, programmatic helps scale lead conversion rates, increasing account-based strategy results.

On the other hand, content syndication is great for acquiring necessary decision-maker contact data, but it still requires these individuals to spot your content offers. Programmatic campaigns help here by incrementally introducing your brand and messages to decision-makers so that they’re more likely to spot your content offers. Moreover, programmatic ads help decision-makers recall the content they’ve already consumed—leading to higher conversion rates.

2. Supports consistent messaging

When paid media channels like programmatic and content syndication are understood and planned in a holistic way (i.e., not in siloes), it’s much easier to prevent essential messaging from being tweaked along its journey to content/creative asset creation and then to distribution. The relevant teams can come together and ensure banner ads, eBooks, infographics, videos, etc. selected for an integrated multi-channel program all align with each other—which, in turn, helps underlying messages resonate with target audiences.

3. Enhances program analysis and quickens optimization 

Program optimization is much easier when you have a unified view of every tactic being used. When paid media channels like programmatic and paid lead gen are siloed, it’s very challenging to gain the holistic visibility needed to identify the program tweaks that should be made.

When you unify paid media into a holistic program, however, you gain a more accurate picture of how your strategy is working. Further, you save resources that are often wasted piecing together reports from different teams and data sources. The resulting analytics will be more precise and timelier, resulting in more impactful optimizations.

4. Amplifies the value of intent data 

Most B2B organizations employing ABM strategies are now using intent data—and for good reason. Intent data can tell organizations:

Each of these intent data benefits is very valuable for message development, content creation, and paid media planning and execution. Yet, as we’ve discussed, different teams are responsible for these various initiatives. And when these teams use intent data separately from each other, it undermines the overall account-based strategy.

To identify buyer intent among target accounts, users must first select intent data topics and/or keywords to monitor. If two different teams monitor differing topics and keywords, each will arrive at varying insights. And this then results in different views on:

  • Accounts to target;

  • Messages to select;

  • Engagement tactics to use;

  • Content type to choose; and

  • Geo locations to focus on.

On the other hand, when teams are aligned and working off an orchestrated strategy, their use of intent data will deliver insights that amplify the impact of all their efforts.

Tips for Synching Programmatic and Content Syndication Efforts

Align teams early

It’s essential to get every team on the same page as early as possible. This will help ensure everyone is aligned when it comes to key strategy concerns like:

  • Targets (accounts and personas)

  • Messages

  • Content

  • Launch dates and durations

  • Follow-up tactics

Share a messaging and content matrix 

As businesses grow and evolve, so does their library of content. After some time, it become difficult to know when to use which pieces of content and with which audiences. Creating, maintaining, and sharing an up-to-date messaging and content matrix is a great way to ensure all teams understand how to connect the dots between key brand messaging, target personas, buyer stages, and individual pieces of content and creative assets.

Agree on intent data topics/keywords to monitor

As mentioned earlier, the intent data topics and keywords you choose to monitor affects a lot. The team tasked with managing programmatic efforts and paid lead gen campaigns should select these topics and keywords together, ensuring that the same intent insights drive their engagement efforts. In fact, it really helps to assign intent topics and keywords to the messaging, persona, and buyer stage categories in your messaging and content matrix.


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