BBN research quantifies the value of b-to-b advertising

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Late last year, BBN Networks reached out to the research firm Ipsos OTX MediaCT. The idea was to see if it made sense to advertise general business products and services, such as credit cards and mobile phones, on specialized b-to-b websites.

BBN is a niche advertising network representing more than 800 vertical and professional b-to-b sites operated by over 70 business media companies, including Advanstar Communications, Cygnus Business Media, Hanley Wood, Penton Media, UBM TechWeb and Vance Publishing Corp.

The results, on every parameter measured, showed that an ad placed on a b-to-b site performs better than the same ad on a consumer site with a business audience. “The study shows a consistent pattern of the impact of advertising on a b-to-b site versus a consumer site,” said Scott Roulet, senior VP, BBN Networks.

In addition to comparing advertising on b-to-b sites against consumer sites, BBN wanted to find out whether a b-to-b website user responded to advertising differently during the 8 a.m.-to-6 p.m. workday (WD) as compared with off-work hours or time outside the work day (OWD).

The study revealed that advertising performed similarly on b-to-b sites regardless of the daypart. The 1,000 qualified participants, in a test lab in October and November 2010, were divided into four equal-size groups.

Test subjects were at least 25 years old, employed full time or self-employed and making more than $75,000 per year. One group saw the test ad on a consumer website. Two groups were shown the ad on b-to-b sites during work or nonwork hours. A control group viewed a different ad on both b-to-b and consumer sites.

The performance of the ad was compared through a series of questions asked of participants after the ad was viewed.

The test brand—DHL, a global shipping company—was chosen as a representative nonendemic business advertiser. The test websites, chosen by Ipsos from a list BBN provided, were, and Yahoo Finance on the consumer side, and ALM's, CFO Publishing's and McGraw-Hill Cos.' in b-to-b.

More than half the subjects who viewed the test ad on a b-to-b site—55% during WD and 57% OWD—identified the brand as the “best option for international shipping,” as compared to 37% of those viewing a consumer site. Similarly, 59% of b-to-b site visitors during WD and 58% OWD indicated they were likely to use the test brand next time they needed to send a package internationally for work, as compared to 44% of consumer site visitors.

Fifty-nine percent of b-to-b site viewers during WD and 52% OWD indicated they were likely to seek more information about the test brand within the next three months, as compared with only 35% of subjects viewing the consumer site.

Seventy-one percent of people shown the ad during WD and 70% OWD indicated that the advertisement gave them a more favorable opinion of the test brand. Only 44% of those who viewed a consumer site had a better opinion of the brand after seeing the ad.

Only 39% of those viewing the ad on a consumer site agreed that DHL “understands my business needs,” but that statement was chosen by 57% of the viewers on b-to-b sites, regardless of time of day they saw the ad. Forty-five percent of consumer site viewers indicated the advertiser “is respected within my industry,” although 63% of b-to-b site viewers during WD and 67% OWD agreed with the statement.

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