Ask anyone who works in marketing, business development or revenue operations in the B2B space, and they’ll say the same thing — B2B marketing isn’t what it used to be.
We’ve moved beyond cold calls, form fills and “spray-and-pray” email blasts. These old tactics — though still used by many — don’t work as well anymore. The B2B buying process is getting more complex every year. With growing privacy measures, it’s harder than ever to have insights into engaged accounts that may be ready to buy.
B2B CMOs and Agencies: What’s Ahead for B2B Marketing
But new innovations such as generative AI, increasingly sophisticated account-based marketing (ABM) platforms and other tactics, tech, programs and strategies can help companies succeed in the new B2B buying world.
Here’s a deep dive into some trends you can expect in 2024. Whether you’re an innovative CMO for a B2B company or a forward-thinking marketing agency account director with a portfolio of B2B clients, this intel will help you stay ahead of the curve — and generate growth — this upcoming year.
Table of Contents
- Ad Spend and Platform Trends
- Martech Spend and Measurement Trends
- Audience Targeting Trends
- Customer Experience and Personalization Trends
- ABM Trends
Ad Spend and Platform Trends
1. B2B Ad Spending Will Plateau
B2B digital ad spend growth is flattening after a pandemic boom. Before the pandemic, the pre-pandemic average spending was 23.8% from 2017 – 2019. 2020 – 2021 saw a historic jump in spending. However, eMarketer predicts that post-pandemic B2B spending will decrease to an average of 10.6% from 2024 to 2025, following a downward trend that started in 2022.
To navigate this trend, marketers may have to modify their advertising strategies to reach younger B2B buyers who prefer captivating imagery on social media platforms and use their mobile phones more than other generations.
You can boost your ad campaigns through newer AI that creates customized ad copy tailored to specific audiences. This personalized approach enabled by generative AI could considerably increase ROAS and productivity.
2. You’ll Find B2B Buyers on LinkedIn and Meta
Social platforms are prime real estate for B2B digital advertising budgets. Per eMarketer, LinkedIn and Meta stand above the rest, commanding more than 37% of total B2B digital ad expenditures this year. These two giants dominated the B2B digital advertising landscape in 2023.
So, when planning out your marketing strategies for 2024, consider investing more of your ad spend on LinkedIn and Meta as key members of buying committees are consistently made up of more millennials (and even Gen Z).
3. Display and Video Ads Will Be the Most Successful
Display advertising is forecast to surpass search in the share of B2B digital ad spend by 2024, fueled in part by rapid growth in video ads. YouTube alone will make up 15% of B2B video ad budgets this year.
LinkedIn has also emerged as a display powerhouse, securing over 40% of B2B display dollars since 2021. This shift towards display underlines how B2B buyers increasingly expect engaging, self-service digital experiences akin to B2C.
Martech Spend and Measurement Trends
4. B2B Martech Spending Will Increase Slightly
After significantly slower growth years in 2022 and 2023 (15.9% and 12%, respectively), the U.S. spend on martech is forecasted to bounce back a little in the next two years, reaching 12.7% ($27.06 billion) in 2024 and 15.6% ($31.29 billion) in 2025. As a result, expect more ad dollars from your competition and use this knowledge when budgeting your 2024 ad spend.
If, as an agency, you also have customers who market to B2C audiences, anticipate investing more for your B2C clients than your B2B clients. There is roughly 2X more spend in the B2C martech space when compared to B2B martech. More spending happens at a B2C level since the space is constantly evolving as more brands invest in retail media networks, demand-side platforms (DSPs) and other technology.
5. B2B Marketers Will Favor SEM and Social Media
In 2023, an estimated 59% of marketers used SEM and social media in their marketing efforts — the highest-used B2B marketing tactics. Nearly half of all B2B marketers used email marketing (48%), content marketing (47%) and website optimization as tactics (46%), but only 39% indicated that they use display media or influencer marketing. We can expect this trend to continue in 2024.
6. B2B Advertising Tech Will Transform in 2024
The B2B advertising landscape continues to change rapidly. As third-party identifiers like cookies are phased out for privacy reasons, identity solutions that protect consumer data are taking their place. At the same time, traditional advertising channels are going digital while new, emerging channels continue to evolve.
Measurement strategies must evolve alongside it, especially with third-party cookies being phased out by Q3 2024. Advertisers need to evaluate their current martech capabilities and how they align with marketing objectives. This will ease the transition and prevent churn.
The right measurement solutions depend on the medium and campaign goals. For any channel, from digital out-of-home advertising (DOOH) to social to podcasts, marketers must start adapting their analytics now before the cookieless future arrives. Assessing your stack and needs will enable better alignment and mitigate disruption.
7. Display Ads Will Offer Mixed Measurement Capabilities
Digital display advertising currently straddles the past and future. Mobile marketers have adapted to Apple’s privacy updates and stand poised for the next disruption. However, cookieless measurement systems for web campaigns still require refinement before widespread adoption. Display advertising occupies an ambiguous ground between legacy and emerging practices.
8. Retail Media Networks Are Still Figuring Out the Whole Measurement Thing
Retail media networks (RMNs) aren’t just limited to B2C companies. Some of the country’s largest RMNs are tapping into the B2B space. For example, eMarketer reported in July 2023 that Walmart sought out B2B ecommerce as another revenue source. As a result, B2C brands now have opportunities to advertise on B2B ecommerce marketplaces.
But as B2B companies explore partnerships with RMNs and vice versa, there’s one thing to keep in mind in 2024: RMNs are still refining their measurement capabilities. The industry lacks measurement standardization, which is anticipated to still be an issue as we move into 2024.
In short, the rapid expansion of retail media has been — and will continue to be — hampered by fragmentation and inconsistencies in measurement. Advertising agencies and trade groups are responding to marketers’ demands for greater standardization, which will permit cross-channel optimization. Efforts to align practices could enable a fuller realization of its RMNs’ potential.
9. Out-of-Home Advertising Will Concentrate on Measuring Outcomes
Out-of-home (OOH) advertising has progressed to outcome-based measurement, going beyond traditional outputs. However, not all marketers have caught up to these advanced capabilities.
The next major challenge will be integrating OOH data with other digital channels to enable holistic multi-platform analytics. While OOH can now track real-world impact, full realization relies on marketers updating approaches and achieving compatibility.
10. Data Clean Rooms Could Help Solve Many Measurement Challenges
All these measurement challenges could help alleviate the different channels’ measurement constraints. Achieving a comprehensive, omnichannel view of marketing outcomes requires privacy-safe data sharing across channels.
Data clean rooms are emerging as the most in-demand solution for enabling secure, compliant data collaboration. As marketers seek holistic attribution, data clean rooms provide the connectivity to piece together the full picture while maintaining consumer privacy.
You can use data clean rooms to query event-level media data and combine it with your customer first-party data to answer key business questions such as how media is impacting brand awareness or conversions. For more information about data clean rooms, head to our data resource hub.
Audience Targeting Trends
11. Marketers Will Lean Into Cookie Alternatives
As the regulations and parameters surrounding consumer privacy expand and become more constraining for advertisers, The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0 cookie alternative is emerging as a winner. UID2 provides advertisers with CRM data, target audience engagement and frequency management across devices without compromising user privacy.
It’s being adopted by giants like Walmart Connect and Warner Bros. Discovery and represents a significant technical shift in the digital ad landscape as third-party cookies are phased out amid scrutiny. Check out our modern marketing tool kit for a more comprehensive list of other identity solutions for audience targeting in a post-cookie world.
12. You’ll Want To Avoid “Blurred Advertising”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken an official stance on kid-targeted advertising and strongly emphasized that:
“…businesses, social media influencers, and others who market or promote products online to children should avoid blurring advertising by clearly separating advertising and entertainment, educational and other content to help limit potential harms to children…. Younger children in particular cannot distinguish between advertising, entertainment, education and other content even with disclosures.”Source: FTC, 2023
Advertisers and media buyers should steer well clear of any creative or placement that could be construed as “blurred advertising.” The FTC further stated: “There should be a clear separation between kids’ entertainment and educational content and advertising, using formatting techniques and visual and verbal cues to signal to kids that they are about to see an ad.”
So, when in doubt — just don’t.
Customer Experience and Personalization Trends
13. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Will Continue To Be Top of Mind
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) should be taken into consideration in 2024. That’s because many Gen X, millennial and Gen Z employees care about DEI and because younger generations identify as being more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations. As a result, B2B advertisers should be aware of the importance of DEI in their creative and their placements.
According to GWI, brands should look to prioritize building stronger connections through cultural research and understanding to embody the values of their customers. Historical and social context shape the worldview of consumers — particularly BIPOC, LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups — and can have a big impact on not only consumer identity, but also brand loyalty and purchase behavior.
14. Speed, Convenience and Delivery Will Drive Customer Satisfaction
According to eMarketer, the top three factors for a good customer experience as identified by U.S. consumers are:
- A quick response when they reach out.
- The ability to contact a company via their preferred channel.
- Getting an answer to their question(s).
As a result, when developing customer experience (CX) marketing plans and strategies for 2024 and working cross-functionally to reduce customer churn, keep these factors in mind and find tactics, methodologies and technologies that can help you achieve optimal customer satisfaction.
15. B2B Marketers Will Invest More in ABM
ABM is about to hit a huge growth boom — 50% of B2B marketers have had ABM initiatives in place for more than a year, and another 25% of B2B marketers say they got started within the past year. This growth indicates that B2B brands are becoming more aware of the need to create tailored content and experiences for different buyer personas, not just targeting a single decision-maker.
16. The ABM Embedding Gap Will Continue
Many marketing teams are structured around siloed marketing channels and data, not customers. Because of this, ABM programs often operate in isolation outside of core marketing processes. Truly embedding ABM requires more than adding an ABM program. It necessitates an organizational shift in how cross-functional GTM teams collaborate.
ABM is not just about driving demand within target accounts. It spans brand-building efforts like thought leadership and reputation management. This means ABM requires coordination across various marketing activities. At the same time, marketing is already being tasked with many responsibilities — from managing the employer brand and talent acquisition to enabling sales and driving mass demand.
Consequently, B2B marketers will need to contend with this reality when moving into 2024. Increasing ABM spending and further developing ABM programs will only work so much — full integration is required for achieving the largest business outcomes, though embedding ABM in GTM strategies will require time, effort, and interdepartmental cooperation, participation and buy-in.
17. Personalization = Key for ABM Success
Currently, 56% of B2B marketers say that personalized content is key to a successful ABM strategy and will continue to be key in 2024. Many others predict that the implementation of AI to scale and customize ABM initiatives will have a large role to play in the coming years.
18. ABM Program Leaders Will Expand and Add to Their Marketing Efforts
According to ITSMA’s most recent benchmark study, ABM program leaders are planning to expand and add to their marketing initiatives in 2023 and beyond. This includes:
- Expanding what they do for accounts currently in their ABM program.
- Adding more marketing resources to cover more accounts, clusters and/or segments.
- Adding education and training to increase ABM skills among existing marketers.
- Adding technology to automate and create more leverage for existing programs.
- Adding a stronger focus on applying ABM to major defined sales opportunities or deal pursuits.
19. ABM Program Leaders Will Focus on New Template and Tool Development
ABM program leaders also plan on developing new templates and tools to facilitate reuse and best-practice sharing per ITSMA. Examples include standardized templates for campaigns, presentations and RFPs.
20. ABM Program Diversification Will Lead to Big Results in 2024
Per ITSMA’s benchmark study, ABM marketing leaders anticipate adopting a blended approach using more than one type of ABM to cover more territories, accounts and verticals. Expect to see more than one ABM approach in many ABM programs, with combinations of strategic ABM (one-to-one), ABM lite (one-to-few) and/or programmatic ABM (one-to-many) approaches inside each program.
Gear Up for 2024: More B2B Marketing Resources To Fuel Your Campaigns
Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of what trends to expect in B2B marketing in 2024, we’ve got even more tools to drive your success. Use these resources to propel your growth:
- Explore everything you need to know about intent marketing.
- Want GTM execution tactics? Check out our GTM strategy guide.
- Discover how to turn your marketing team into a revenue center.
Emily Gray got her start in the advertising and marketing world in client services, where she spent a good amount of time managing deliverables, timelines and client requests. She really fell in love with strategy and planning when, as an account manager, she had the opportunity to work on Funko, Boeing and PATH. After a few years away from the industry, where she managed a rock band and worked at a Dallas PR firm, Emily’s very happy to be back in the strategy and research world. At Goodway, she focuses on the B2B vertical and covers tech, finance and telecom spaces. Emily lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and a golden retriever named Po.
Megan DeSousa Klingaman is an associate director of client strategy at Goodway Group, where she develops innovative, high-impact marketing strategies and roadmaps to achieve client goals through ABM, paid social, content syndication, paid search and programmatic advertising. She brings expertise in evaluating and maximizing marketing efforts backed by data-driven insights and thought leadership in order to boost an account’s movement through the funnel and increase profitability. Megan has over 10 years of traditional and digital marketing experience on both the agency and client side and is an expert in 6sense. She lives in Atlanta.