As the economy picked up steam last year, the top 50 b-to-b advertisers spent an estimated $3.96 billion on b-to-b ads, up 6.5% from 2010, according to an analysis of ad spending data from Kantar Media.
The figures include estimated b-to-b ad spending in the categories of business magazines, consumer magazines, newspapers, Internet, outdoor, radio and TV.
The categories showing the most growth last year were Internet display advertising (+19.2%), television (+11.2%), radio (+4.9%) and outdoor (+4.3%).
Reflecting the continued decline in print advertising, b-to-b advertisers cut spending on ads in consumer magazines (-9.6%), newspapers (-9.5%) and business magazines (-1.7%).
Last year television was by far the largest category in terms of total ad dollars, making up 55.9% of total b-to-b ad spending. Internet advertising (display ads only) made up 12.2%, followed by newspapers (9.6%), consumer magazines (8.3%), radio (6.0%), business magazines (4.7%) and outdoor (3.3%).
The top advertiser was AT&T Inc., which spent an estimated $284.0 million on b-to-b ads last year, down 13.0% from 2010.
AT&T continued its “Rethink Possible” corporate branding campaign, which debuted in 2010 with a big splash—and a bigger budget than last year. Created by BBDO New York and BBDO Atlanta, the campaign was designed to promote AT&T as a leading provider of telecommunications services for consumers and businesses.
“We were a well-known brand but not yet a well-loved brand,” said Esther Lee, senior VP-brand, marketing and advertising at AT&T, discussing the campaign at the Association of National Advertisers' Masters of Marketing conference last November.
The “Rethink Possible” campaign included TV, print and online, promoting such AT&T solutions as wireless services and the integration of back-office applications. New elements of the campaign last year included customer case studies that were woven into TV, print and online ads.
After emphasizing corporate branding in 2010, AT&T last year extended the campaign to vertical markets including automotive manufacturing, healthcare and enterprise business.
The No. 2 b-to-b advertiser last year was Verizon Communications, which spent an estimated $236.6 million, a drop of 12.0% from its 2010 spending.
Verizon launched a TV campaign during Super Bowl XLV (broadcast Feb. 6, 2011) promoting the Apple iPhone, which it started selling in its stores later that week. Verizon Business continued its “Altogether Better” campaign, created by McCann Erickson Salt Lake City. The campaign included TV, print and online ads.
Jumping from No. 8 in 2010 to No. 3 last year was Apple Inc., which spent an estimated $198.6 million on b-to-b advertising, up 74.8%.
In April 2011, Apple debuted a TV campaign for the iPad 2. Created by TBWA/Media Arts Lab, Los Angeles, the campaign included six spots and promoted the tablet's applications for a variety of users, including CEOs, doctors and small businesses.
Apple also introduced an integrated campaign for its MacBook Pro, as well as ads for its iPhone. Both campaigns were created by TBWA/Media Arts Lab, Los Angeles.
Rounding out the top-10 b-to-b advertisers last year were JPMorgan Chase & Co. ($198.1 million); Microsoft Corp. ($176.0 million); IBM Corp. ($145.3 million); Sprint Nextel Corp. ($144.4 million); Southwest Airlines ($123.7 million); Staples Inc. ($115.0 million); and Deutsche Telekom ($111.5 million).
“We continue to use the full complement of the media mix,” said John Kennedy, VP-corporate marketing at IBM, which also ranked sixth in 2010. “We have always used, and continue to use, traditional media like TV and print advertising. TV varies by country; in the U.S., we connect our TV around important sponsorships we run at different times of the year.”
For example, IBM is a sponsor of the U.S. Open tennis tournament through a partnership with the United States Tennis Association and is also a sponsor of the U.S. Open golf championship through a partnership with the United States Golf Association.
During TV broadcasts of these events, IBM runs spots that are part of its “Smarter Planet” campaign, created by Ogilvy & Mather, New York.
Staples jumped from No. 20 in 2010 to No. 9 last year, increasing its b-to-b ad spending by 85.8%.