Near the end of his opening address at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Annual Leadership Meeting last month in La Quinta, Calif., newly installed IAB Chairman Bob Carrigan urged his audience of publishers, marketers and agency executives to take a step back and imagine themselves “in a tranquil interactive land that is probably foreign to many people in this room.”
Carrigan, CEO of tech publishing company IDG Communications, continued: “It is a glorious land where the CPMs are always high ... where permissions are solid ... where targeting is truly vertical and content is truly king. What is this magical land, you ask? It's the land of b-to-b. Yes, b-to-b.”
He went on to note that b-to-b is estimated to account for 11% to 18% of online ad spending and said the sector's impact may be underreported because of the difficulty of tracking below-the-line activity such as lead generation.
“I've seen some of the greatest innovation in online advertising happening in the b-to-b space,” Carrigan said later in an interview. “There is so much that you can learn from that engagement that b-to-b companies have with their audience.”
Carrigan, who is serving a one-year term as IAB chairman, said he is encouraged by the increase in the b-to-b sector's involvement in the IAB but that he'd like to see more. This includes greater involvement in the MIXX Awards, which recognize interactive advertising achievement, as well as IAB road shows. The organization may also add b-to-b-specific working groups, events and awards shows, Carrigan said.
“There is so much we can do to bring b-to-b more into the mix,” he said.
The b-to-b outreach is one of four areas Carrigan plans to focus on to help IAB members “grow together” in the coming year. The others are: opportunities presented by the emergence of tablets, which he called “perhaps the most provocative addition to this multiscreen world”; the reinvention of traditional media companies so that they become more like technology companies; and the urgent need to increase online brand advertising.
In reference to the last, Carrigan noted in his speech that online brand advertising spending totaled about $9 billion in 2010, according to eMarketer. That was roughly a third of total online ad spending. By 2014, that share is expected to reach 42%.
“Those are pretty respectable numbers,” Carrigan said. “The problem is that there are still billions of dollars left on the table, compared to brand advertising on TV. In fact, if online had the same advertising revenue per user as TV, last year we would have earned another $6 billion in online advertising—most of it brand advertising.”
John Obrecht is editor of BtoB and Media Business. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.