B2B Digital Ad Spending Forecast to Grow by 13% Next Year

December 19, 2017

Digital ad spending by B2B firms will grow by a forecast 13% next year to $4.6 billion after increasing by an estimated 15.6% this year, according to a new projection from eMarketer. Growth rates appear to be on a downward trend after reaching almost 20% in 2015.

The B2B digital advertising market is only about one-twentieth the size of the total digital ad market, per the forecast.

As B2B advertisers spend more on digital, they’re becoming more comfortable with programmatic, according to previous research. Late last year, Dun & Bradstreet revealed that almost two-thirds (65%) of B2B marketers in the US were buying and sell advertising programmatically, up from 54% in 2015. Almost 7 in 10 planned to spend more on programmatic advertising this year than in 2016.

B2B Ad Spend Migrates to Mobile

As with the broader US digital advertising market, B2B digital ad spending is shifting from desktop to mobile devices. However, the B2B market clearly lags the wider market on that level.

This year B2B mobile ad spending is expected to total $1.53 billion, representing a 29% increase from last year. While up from just 12% share of B2B digital ad spend in 2013, mobile’s 38% share this year compares to more than half of digital ad spending as a whole in the US.

Data from iProspect also demonstrates a slow shift to mobile in paid search: its B2B advertising clients continue to see most of their Google paid search clicks coming from desktops, but the device mix is slowly shifting towards smartphones.

Top B2B Ad Spenders

While digital ad spending may be rising, overall ad spending by B2B firms seems to be on a downward trend.

Figures provided to MarketingCharts by Nielsen indicate that overall ad spending by B2B firms totaled $1.79 billion last year, down 5% from the year prior (~$1.9 billion), which in turn had been down 9% from 2014 (~$2.1 billion).

The discrepancy in the spending totals between Nielsen and eMarketer likely relates to what firms are considered to be B2B. In this case, it’s the trajectory that is more important than the actual figures.

In 2016 the leading B2B parent ad spender was Berkshire Hathaway, per Nielsen’s figures, with its $7.9 million in ad spend down 4% from a year earlier. Comcast moved up a couple of spots to second on the back of a 10% increase (to $6.9 million), while Hyatt dropped from 1st to 7th due to a 34% decrease in spend, to $5.6 million.

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