Web Ads Take a B2B Approach

As business-to-business transactions continue to outpace business-to-consumer transactions in e-commerce, it should come as no surprise that online advertising is now beginning to show a decidedly B2B bias. According to data collected by AdRelevance, growth in online advertising by B2B companies has outstripped all other industries for the last four months.

AdRelevance found the number of business-to-business companies advertising online has increased 58 percent over the last four months, compared to an average of only 17 percent for all other industries. In the same period, B2B advertisers have increased ad spending by 66 percent based on average number of ad impressions per company. In the fourth quarter of 1999, business-to-business banner advertising accounted for approximately 1.9 billion ad impressions, or 5 percent of online advertising overall.

Not surprisingly, the majority of B2B online advertising focuses on technology, AdRelevance found. Sixty-two percent of all B2B ads feature such products and services as Web design, e-commerce security, network hardware, domain registration, and related business technology.

The rapid growth of business-to-business advertising is a natural result of the year-long rush to the Internet by B2B companies forging new ground in e-commerce, according to Charles Buchwalter, VP of Media Research for AdRelevance.

Site Genres with Higher Concentration of B2B Advertising
Site Genre Share of Impressions
B2B All Others Difference
Computing & Technology 9.9% 3.2% +6.7%
Business & Finance 2.5% 1.1% +1.5%
General News 2.2% 1.8% +0.4%
Site Genres with Lower Concentration of B2B Advertising
Games 1.4% 2.0% -0.6%
Kids & Family 0.1% 0.8% -0.7%
Portal, Community
& Search Engines
78.2% 83.7% -5.5%
Notes: “Genre” refers to a group of sites with similar content and/or function.
Data was collected between Jan. 24 and Feb. 14, 2000.
Source: AdRelevance

“Last year, we saw a boom in commercial activity on the Internet as business-to-business e-commerce became the focus of hundreds of companies looking to stake claims in new territory,” Buchwalter said. “Now that so many companies in the B2B sector have a presence online, it makes sense for them to advertise there. It’s the equivalent of putting up billboards across from the new industrial park: you reach your customers where they work, and in this case, they’re working online.”

The data gathered by AdRelevance suggests that the majority of B2B advertising is taking place outside the consumer corridors of mainstream Net traffic. Although all industries are more likely to advertise on portals and search engines, B2B advertisers are relatively less likely to do so than their B2C counterparts. Similarly, business-to-business companies are more likely to advertise on computer/technology, business/finance, and general news sites where business-to-consumer companies are relatively scarce.

These findings are in line with recentMedia Metrix findings that show at-work Internet usersare more likely to browse news, financial, and technology sites, while home users frequent portals and search engines.

“B2B companies are clearly targeting sites that cater to the work user,” he said. “Though the bulk of their advertising dollars are still spent at portals and search engines, they’re much more likely to choose business-oriented sites than are advertisers in other industries.”

Industry Growth Rates
(October 1999 to February 2000)
Industry Increase in Number
of Companies
Increase in Average Number
of Impressions per Company
Business to Business 58% 66%
Travel 45% 19%
Software 39% 22%
Retail 30% 26%
Web Media 26% 29%
Financial Services 13% 40%
Telecommunications 6% 45%
Consumer Goods 4% 38%
Automotive -2% 44%
Hardware & Electronics -10% 34%
“Industry” refers to a sector of commerce
“Impression refers to the number of times an ad is rendered for viewing by a user
Source: AdRelevance

Business-to-Business Advertising by Industry Segment
Business Segment Growth in Companies Change in Share
Number of
New Companies
Since Oct.
Share of
Change in Share
Since Oct.
Web Design/
Domain Registration
107 46 28% -4%
Business Technology 73 6 20% 7%
Support & Security
50 7 14% 4%
Advertising & Marketing 46 19 12% 4%
Materials Suppliers
55 30 8% 2%
Consulting 71 36 5% -1%
48 17 3% -2%
Business Finance 16 5 3% -3%
Strategies & Information 26 5 2% -1%
Business Portals 20 6 2% -3%
Shipping 3 0 2% -3%
Content Providers
4 2 1% 0%
“Segment” refers to a grouping of companies according to the primary focus of their commercial activity.
“Share of impressions” refers to the number of impressions as a percentage of total impressions.

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