Crunching the digital display numbers

Close up of a peacock displaying it's plumage • ‘Crunching the digital display numbers’ Earnest Agency Blog

Crunching the digital display numbers

Digital advertising shows no sign of slowing down.

“Online ads aren’t going anywhere, but as they get more technologically advanced, there are more opportunities for B2B marketers to get the most out of their digital budget”

In the US, B2B digital ad spending has doubled in the last 5 years, reaching $6.08bn in 2019, and digital advertising overtook all other forms of advertising in the UK in 2017.

Chances are you’re already putting some of your budget in digital ads – but with so much choice available, here are some stats to help you make the right decisions and maximise your investment. 

How much should I spend on digital?

It depends on your objective.

But as a benchmark, UK/American B2B businesses with $500m – $10bn+ in revenue are spending 9% of their budget on digital ads.

Direct or programmatic?

Programmatic* may seem complex, but a lot of B2B marketers are finding it worth the effort. 

Especially with personalisation rising on the agenda – 86% of B2B marketers say they’re either personalising messages across digital channels, or planning to in the next 2 years.

Which is why spending on programmatic is increasing.

Looking ahead to 2019, 3 in 5 of B2B marketers said they plan to increase their programmatic spending, with 1 in 5 saying they will be increasing it by more than 25%.

Where in the funnel should I be using digital ads?

The earlier the better.

B2B marketers have found online advertising 4x more effective in early-stage engagement than later-stage conversion.

However, when it comes to retargeting, it’s marginally better at driving that final action.

Speaking of which, 1/3 of B2B marketers are looking at deploying retargeting in the next year – so if you’re not already, it’s time to start thinking about how you can use programmatic to narrow down your audience.

Which formats should I choose?

Not all formats were created equal.

The two most popular are the ‘medium rectangle’ (300×250), which accounts for 40% of global display, and the leaderboard (728×90), which accounts for 25%.

Should I buy mobile placements?

The short answer is: yes.

Although it depends on your target audience, 50% of B2B search enquiries are already made on mobile – with the figure expected to reach 70% by 2020.

Native or display?

Native gets better engagement.

As native ads** give customers a smoother online experience, they average a 4x higher click-through rate than regular display.

How do I know if it’s working?

Set some benchmarks.

The average B2B click-through rate for Google ads is 0.46%.

And the average cost-per-click is $0.79.

Banner ads don’t need to be creative, right?

Not so fast.

Any touchpoint is an opportunity to make your customer’s day. If you’re not convinced, here’s plenty of examples of delightfully creative B2B and B2C banner ads.

And if you want to search your favourite brands or competitors for inspiration, here’s a useful tool to help you do it.


So there you have it. Online ads aren’t going anywhere, but as they get more technologically advanced, there are more opportunities for B2B marketers to get the most out of their digital budget – and more pitfalls.

If you need help sprucing up your digital presence, drop us a line.


*Programmatic: Targeted online ads that are auctioned off by an automatic system – instead of negotiated by people. So a business chooses who they want to target, and how much they’re willing to pay, and an algorithm buys the spaces for them.

**Native: Online ads which match the format and feel of the website they’re on – so they look more like part of the content and less like banner ads.

~ This post is part of the Earnest Crunching the numbers series ~


[Header photo: Siddhant Kumar on Unsplash]


Crunching The Numbers




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Rahul Savadia


I'm a Strategist at Earnest and my hobbies include unearthing great audience insights, looking stuff up, and frequently sitting down.