The B2B Investment Opportunity of the Year is CTV Ad Creative

Abstract

  • Only 29% of B2B brands say they currently invest in CTV ads
  • 90% of B2B marketers were highly or somewhat likely to implement or test CTV ads in the coming years.
  • With less adoption of CTV, B2B brands have a big opportunity to make a splash on a channel their competitors may not yet be on.

B2B Video by the Numbers

Connected Television works: full stop. 

It’s a highly targetable, fully measurable channel and brands from all corners of the industry are discovering the performance potential of the biggest screens in the home. But while CTV has been embraced by the B2C world, their B2B brethren have been slower to adopt and experiment with this increasingly popular channel–or even video marketing in general. 

In 2019, only 33% of B2B marketers said video was the most valuable content marketing type for moving prospects through the sales funnel, even if it beat out more traditional B2B content like webinars, white papers, and social media posts. Even in 2022, only 39% of marketers cited video as a new tactic they were planning to explore.

In terms of CTV specifically, according to a February 2022 study on digital marketing investments conducted by eMarketer, only 29% of B2B marketers are putting their money into the platform.

This lack of investment even stretches into CTV’s close – yet distinctly different – cousin, OTT (Over-The-Top) video advertising. A March 2022 study from eMarketer on marketing channels currently used by B2B marketers found that only 45% are currently using OTT advertising–which is a stark drop from the 89% who invest in social media marketing.

But the winds are changing. The B2B world is incrementally moving in the right direction of shifting their budgets to leverage the secretly awesome performance power of Connected Television. The B2B Marketing and Media Survey conducted in March 2022 by Thrive Analytics and Stirista found that 90% of B2B marketers said it was highly or somewhat likely that they would implement or test CTV ads in their marketing mix over the next 1-2 years.

When you consider that 90% of marketers say video in general has helped them generate leads (with 87% saying it has increased sales), this lack of CTV adoption illuminates a big opportunity for a B2B brand. Video, especially CTV, is powerful, but not as widely used in the B2B space. This means you have the opportunity to do something your competition is not doing. 

You get to grab B2B marketers attention with effective, entertaining video ads somewhere that’s not their work laptop – their living room TV screen.

B2B Doesn’t Mean Boring2Boring

It’s not an unfair judgment to say that the legacy style of B2B marketing isn’t striving for – what’s the nicest way to put this – excellence in entertainment. Overwhelmingly, B2B marketing, from videos to static paid ads, are simply about delivering clear and concise information so that you can make it ridiculously simple for your specific target audience to evaluate your product.

Don’t get us wrong: that’s still what you need to do with a B2B ad on CTV. But we also don’t live in a buttoned-up, uber-professional marketing world that may have typified the end of the 20th century. Even from B2B brands, audiences increasingly want to see emotions, opinions, and bold statements – be they funny or factual – from the brands they support. These tactics – routinely leveraged in the B2C world – help audiences identify and relate to your ads, your brand, and your products in ways that may be impossible with traditional creative approaches to B2B marketing.

But that doesn’t mean B2B and B2C have interchangeable creative strategies. Engaging B2B marketers will require its own unique strategies, tactics, and video types that can speak more directly to their distinct needs and interests. And it all starts with getting super specific with the audience you want to target.

Where to Start: B2B Audience Specificity

Understanding the specific audience you are targeting feels like a gigantic “No, duh” tactic to mention, but it’s a little more involved than a surface level reading of this subheading. 

There are a multitude of different audience demographics you can target in the B2C space that can help dictate your creative direction. But those demographics dramatically shrink in the B2B world. That means it’s even more imperative to get hyper granular with the audiences you are attempting to reach. Is it the coordinator or strategist who will be using the product the most, or are you targeting the VP or C-Suite level decision-makers who know the PIN for the company credit card? 

For instance, if you are trying to raise awareness with end-users – who naturally may be younger than their C-level counterparts – look for creative approaches that can resonate with millennials or Gen Z. 

On the flip side of that, if you aim to attract the VPs of an organization, you may want your creative to be a hint more conservative, highlighting value props without going overboard on esoteric entertainment.

TL;DR: At the very beginning of concepting your campaign, you must understand the exact person you want to attract within a B2B organization, as this information will give you clues about the precise creative approach you’ll need to take to get them to convert.

What Video Types are Perfect for B2B?

With a specific audience in mind, you are now able to really dig into the nitty-gritty of producing a stellar piece of CTV content. Experimentation is key, but there are a few tried-and-true video types that you can use as a foundation to start building an effective CTV campaign.


Explainers

These are digestible videos that – big surprise here – creatively explain information about your brand or product. 

The goal of this video type is to help consumers develop a deeper understanding of what your brand represents, the products you offer, and the value it provides. If you want to educate B2B marketers about your business, explainers allow you to posit a topical industry problem so you can position yourself as the sole solution a consumer needs. 

This video type works so well for B2B marketing as Explainers speak directly to the problem your customer faces, and then deliberately highlights the solution you offer. And depending on what part of the funnel you are trying to target, you can get as granular as you want with the type of information you include. It’s also perfectly suited for B2B brands with more intangible products, like services, tools, or apps as you can be more descriptive about what your product does that may not be as easily understood in, say, a UI-focused brand commercial.


Testimonials

Testimonial videos use your audience to sell for you. They tell a true story, through a first person perspective, about someone’s experience involving your brand or product. 

As we mentioned in a previous MNTN Research story:

“A way you can think of testimonials are like explainer videos, but with a unique storyteller–people who already love what you’ve got. These personal stories validate your brand or product to a prospective customer because you are authentically showing the confidence other consumers have in your offering. This in turn allows you to communicate your brand’s story and the benefits you provide in a meaningful way, establishing a deeper, more personal level of credibility with your target audiences.”

You can think of B2B testimonials kind of like a video version of a case study, where you allow your clients to give first-hand accounts of the success they achieved working with your brand. This makes your clients both the storyteller and the story, so choosing figures from your target demos is key. 

If you service companies across multiple verticals, make sure that you have unique testimonial videos that can speak to each of these audiences. With a relatable and believable “star,” a B2B testimonial can be incredibly successful at driving a prospect to convert. 


Product Demo

Product demo videos allow you to show off exactly what you’re selling by presenting it “in-use”. Seeing how someone demonstrating the functionality and ease-of-use of a product is far more engaging and memorable than an ad that merely regurgitates the specs and features your customers could have easily just found on your website. This can be incredibly useful if you have more intangible products that need to be “seen to be believed.”

Engaging product demos can help drive a pretty big wedge between yourself and your competition. That’s, of course, based on how much risk you’re willing to take in demonstrating it in action.

Here at MNTN, we actually have the perfect example of a product demo that took the biggest (and spiciest) swing of the year. In mid-2022, we launched a new campaign: The Hottest Demo Ever. Featuring our Chief Creative Officer Ryan Reynolds and wildman Steve-O from MTV’s Jackass, the ad brought together everything you expect to see from a middle-of-the-road product demo ad. Sure, you get shots of the UI, and see the ease of use of the platform, but its memorable nature comes out of the ridiculous stunt Steve-O pulls in the ad: eating one of the hottest peppers on Earth, the Carolina Reaper. 

Our attention isn’t just being grabbed because we’re watching two celebrities; it’s getting throttled because we’ve never seen a B2B brand target audiences with ad creative quite like this before. As MNTN Research’s Melissa Yap explained, this ad is a perfect example of how CTV channels can harness the power of the B2B “micro-moment”:

“The creative itself doesn’t encourage viewers to re-enact this challenge per se, but it does pique curiosity (and further interest) once they get a glimpse into the platform’s efficacy. Utilizing snapshots of the platform’s interface, mingled with a funny script and standout prop (reaper pepper) is all that’s needed to breathe life into pre-existing assets without completely reinventing the wheel.”

Closing Thoughts

The gloves are off in B2B adland. The freedom you have to take creative risks has never been wider, but many companies may still feel hesitant (or even reticent) to take the leap into a whole new platform or creative direction. 

Stop that. 

In 2023, you ain’t got time to feel hesitant taking risks to see your campaigns biggest goals come to fruition.

Suffice to say, this is your express permission to take every single thing you’ve ever learned about B2B marketing, either in-school or on-the-job, and throw it out of the highest home office window you can find. Because where the advertising world is going, you don’t need outdated strategies to entice and interest a B2B buyer. 

You just need a spark of CTV creativity.

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