B2B Digital Ad Spending to Grow by 22% This Year

BY Kathy Crosett
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In the recent past, B2B marketers have relied on trade show activities as an effective form of lead generation. In our new normal, and with no solid estimates on when in-​person trade shows will appear on the calendar again, analysts expect B2B operators’ digital ad spending to grow by 22% this year. That's just one of the big changes B2B marketers in most sectors have made as a result of the COVID-​19 pandemic. If you're selling B2B digital media, here's what you need to know.

Trade Show Losses

Data from PwC shows that the 2019 spending of $15.58 billion on trade show activity plunged to $5.56 billion this year. Analysts predict a gradual rebound in trade show spending as follows:

  • $8.62 billion 2021
  • $11.20 billion 2022
  • $13.30 billion 2023
  • $14.5 billion 2024

In addition, the trade magazine revenue market will likely experience a 15% drop this year, and that's tough news if you're selling B2B digital media. Going forward, trade magazines will likely recoup much of their losses in 2021. However, following that, the sector will generate slower growth: 9% in 2022 and 2% in both 2023 and 2024. The professional book market will end 2020 with a 7% revenue drop. And next year, publishers can expect a 5% boost in 2021. Beyond that, the growth looks much weaker with analysts expecting only a 1% boost in 2023 and 2024, respectively. Trade directories will likely experience negative growth during this period.

In general, the global B2B media sales market is predicted to amount to $200 billion by 2022.

Digital Ad Spending to Grow by 22%

In the U.S., analysts believe that B2B marketers have had to shift their digital marketing practices as a result of the drastic reduction in person-​to-​person meetings. Marketers may increase B2B digital media buying by as much as 22.6% this year. That spending level will bring them to a total of $8.14 billion.

What are B2B marketers doing specifically? “Sponsored webinars and virtual events through publishers are now the norm, as are search and social media ads,” say eMarketer analysts. And spending in some B2B sectors is increasing significantly this year. 

Specifically, health care, technology, financial services and telecom verticals have all bumped up their marketing campaigns. Businesses in the tech and telecom verticals know their products and services are in demand as clients transition to distributed and remote work locations. Similarly, companies in health care services and support, and those in medical products and equipment, have ramped up their ad spending as the COVID-​19 pandemic continues. In fact, eMarketer analysts point out that health care businesses have increased their 2020 B2B digital ad spending by 41.2%.

Not surprisingly, one of the hardest hit B2B sectors this year has been travel. At this point, in-​person meetings are extremely rare. Overall, B2B digital travel marketing will drop over 40% this year.

The early months of 2021 will continue to be challenging for all marketers. The 11th Annual B2B Content Marketing survey from CMI, MarketingProfs and ON24 indicates that marketers will be trying to counter the effects of the pandemic with a change in content marketing. To sell more B2B digital media and your marketing services, ask your clients about the changes they’ve made to their editorial calendar for this year and next.

To get an understanding of your client’s position in the marketplace, run a Digital Audit. The tool is available on AdMall from SalesFuel and can help you open a conversation about selling more services and digital media.