Sunday, May 26, 2024

B2B Advertising as a Metaphor for the Cookieless Future

by Ray Kingman

The next generation of B2B Advertising may prove to be a useful metaphor for our cookieless ad tech future. In the coming months, the removal of the Apple Device ID will have worked its way through the programmatic ecosystem. Then, apparently by 2023, the inevitable deprecation of Google cookies will be a reality. As the industry continues searching for a replacement for third-party cookies, there may be an obvious option hiding in plain sight.

B2B programmatic marketing has been in a curious limbo in the programmatic media buying space for some time now. One thing is consistent; B2B advertisers always make the same request: “I want qualified decision-makers.”

B2B marketers learn pretty quickly that in digital there is an undeniable math problem. Identifying the right decision-makers and then securing a decent match rate to an accurate digital ID is a tough challenge. Onboarding and cookie syncs have not been our friend. Decision-maker lists can be very specific, meaning that even the typical 25 to 35% match rates can be a real problem. Not enough active cookies will always undercut unique user reach, and that can easily remove 60 percent of the prospects at the top of the funnel, resulting in not enough qualified leads.

So what happens next?

B2B marketers and data providers have been doing a terrific job leveraging other ways to circumvent cookies and expose the right audiences. Intent targeting based on engagement levels of a user on a website is a popular route to take. If the unit sale value of the promoted product can support the journey, intent can be a solid way to identify prospects.

The other common practice is Account-Based Marketing (ABM). The ABM sales funnel is a great example of a multi-channel digital marketing strategy. Its process is wonderfully documented in search, programmatic, form fills and site visits. If the product being sold has broad appeal, the unit sale value is high, and the budget is big – ABM can be a useful strategy.

Finally, there is the new kid on the block. Employee-Based Title targeting. Title targeting is the most highly leveraged strategy for getting to key decision-makers because it gets right to the point: reaching the right person at the right time.

This idea of targeting titles at named companies appeals to highly focused B2B marketers who know their customers and simply need to reach “decision-makers” in the most efficient way possible. Plotting a straight line to the VP of Marketing, the Purchasing Manager, or the CFO is dramatically more efficient than fishing for people with keywords. While intent sounds good and ABM makes investors happy, most B2B marketers are focused on reaching a narrow group of decision-makers with a tactical budget. Unlike Intent and ABM tactics, Employee-Based Title targeting is tuned for these types of campaigns.


How does this work in an ecosystem trying to obscure its users?

In spite of third-party cookies and device IDs going away, identity services are in unprecedented high demand. Without cookies and devices, marketers need more transparency in first-party and opt-in third-party options. Knowledge of a prospect as both an employee with a title and as a consumer at home will improve the efficacy of any new cookieless marketing infrastructure.

While marketers must offer users the choice to opt-out, the demand for transparency will not go away, and pre-qualified and targeted prospects will always lead to better outcomes for both the marketers and the audience.

Increasingly, agencies and larger brands are going back to building their own customer databases. They are recasting their onboarding strategies to create their own proprietary linkage between their first-party data, all prospect assets and their DSP of choice. Regardless of whether the match is made by address, device, email or IP, the key is maintaining local control of the customer asset so that it is transparent to the brand and completely anonymous to everyone else. By including people with titles, the transparency and efficiency of B2B prospect-match improves, while simultaneously protecting the privacy of the individual. This identity process is unique to every user and application, preventing redistribution or abuse of a one-size-fits-all digital ID.

The blocking of third-party cookies may eventually serve as a benefit to digital marketers as it causes us to refocus on the value of the data. Rather than fixating on the plumbing, one of the best reinforcements of programmatic marketing principles could be the importance of verified data. When the pool of identifiers is less available by either legislation or by design, the demand for quality audiences that protect user rights increases.

The next generation of B2B title targeting could be a metaphor for how we navigate digital advertising. Respect for the information, under the proper controls, can lead to better match rates and better outcomes for brands and consumers.

Ray Kingman is the CEO of



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