Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Why SMBs need adtech in order to compete with major players

We speak to Andy Smith, Commercial Director at Hybrid Theory, who describes how adtech can unlock invaluable audience insights for SMBs

Why do SMBs need adtech in order to compete with the big players?

Adtech maximises media investment, delivering on objectives at both the top and the bottom of the funnel (i.e., increasing brand awareness and acquiring new customers). For any revenue-driven SMB, this ability to scale and increase reach at the same time is incredibly valuable.

With big players dominating an industry’s audience, targeting customers in over-saturated markets is hard. By utilising adtech, however, SMBs can find niche and untapped audiences that are 100% built specific to them, cutting out the competition and making it easier to scale.

How can B2B businesses benefit from adtech?

Adtech enables B2B businesses to interpret signal data across a variety of platforms. For instance, we’ve worked with many B2B brands with a real dependence on LinkedIn. As a business platform, it makes sense that B2B businesses would wish to advertise in that environment – but it’s not the only way to target customers. 

The ability to interpret signals across channels means marketers can better understand their market and where their audience is active – across the open web – enabling them to target an even bigger sphere of customers.

How does Hybrid Theory help B2B businesses reach larger audiences?

Marketers are no longer just targeting companies; they’re targeting individuals in companies,  all in different positions. The point is, if you’re a B2B business targeting a large organisation, you’re essentially targeting many different departments and functions (i.e., product, marketing, sales) which means relevancy and specificity are key. 

At Hybrid Theory, all the data we extract is categorised into three distinct pillars; browse, search, and share. ‘Browse’ is the data from the open web (i.e., what users look at). ‘Search’ is the data from keywords that users type in, and ‘share’ is any content a user shares.

Our technology will pick up those data signals, giving marketers the ability to interpret what users are looking at and enabling them to target very specific profiles of customers better.

What type of platforms should businesses use?

While you could run your marketing in-house or utilise third parties for different aspects of your advertising, a managed service will do all the hard work for you. This means targeting, optimising, and campaign creation can all be done under one roof – giving you a full view of the funnel and ensuring that you have one accessible layer of data.

At Hybrid Theory, we take a ‘white glove’ approach to our services. We guide our clients through every stage of the process, getting to know them, and once we understand their needs and objectives, we’ll advise them on the best way forward.

What is the difference between building audiences for B2B and B2C?

B2B businesses aim for niche audiences that they can scale quickly, so will use hyper-targeted forms of marketing in order to carve out that narrow market. B2C businesses, on the other hand, won’t be looking to build niche audiences within a particular segment and will veer towards targeting a larger market.

How does Hybrid Theory build audiences?

We start by understanding our client’s objectives, whether it’s brand awareness or driving a particular outcome, such as product sales. 

Then we create two to three custom audiences, using data that we’ve pulled from the three pillars I mentioned before – search, browse and share. This gives us enough valuable insights into consumer behaviour to work with.

Once we have those insights, we can start integrating those audiences into a live environment. In order to find out which of these audiences are resonating the most and driving outcomes, we’ll activate them all. Then we narrow down that data and use it to create a more hyper-targeted audience.

How can SMBs futureproof their advertising strategy?

Covid brought about big changes to the way the buying journey operates. With fewer conferences and events, there’s been a big increase in commerce content online. This has given brands the chance to put all the relevant information about their products or service out there, in front of the customer, before they’ve even spoken to a sales representative. 

In order to futureproof their advertising, however, businesses need to understand how their target audience is engaging with all that content on their websites. And the only way they can do that is by analysing data.

We analyse multiple forms of content in order to understand metrics such as highest dwell time. From that data, we’re able to score the impact a particular piece of content has on driving a business outcome, i.e., higher conversions. 

How should B2B businesses utilise commerce content?

I believe it’s most effective when paired with a marketing strategy that contains a mix of different advertising tactics, including that initial top-of-funnel awareness content. It’s also worth aligning commerce content with the rest of your marketing – there’s no point pushing out content that’s unrelated to what you’re trying to sell or promote, especially if it doesn’t drive your wider objectives or engage your audiences. 

Hybrid Theory recently launched a Marketing Campaign called ‘Who Knew?’ Tell me a little more about it. 

The Who Knew campaign is all about uncovering audience insights, and dissecting consumer layers to understand their personas, behaviours, and interests. I liken it to peeling an onion in reverse; you’re essentially starting from the core and adding layers to expand your market. Growth means expanding and discovering new audiences, and the Who Knew campaign brought  businesses awareness on how to do just that – uncovering new and unexpected audience insights beyond their core.