Facebook boycott - what next? Why display advertising is the right channel for B2B marketers

Drawing attention to your brand and products is the main aim of most sophisticated marketing strategies. However, there are many different likely outcomes of B2B marketing campaigns depending largely on the marketing tactic used: email marketing, events – whether digital or local -, online banner advertising (better known as display advertising) or social media marketing. 

Facebook boycott = where to spend marketing budgets now?

The latter in particular has lost credibility recently  due to the Facebook boycott “StopHateForProfit“. In response to this boycott we find ourselves asking; what actually happens if Facebook do not get the advertising dollars back? Is display advertising the right channel to spend our B2B marketing budgets on?

Let’s start at the beginning: what happened? After the violent death of US citizen George Floyd, the “Stop Hate For Profit” campaign was launched. This involved the boycott initiators calling on all companies to join in solidarity to uphold important American values such as, freedom, equality and justice. More than 500 companies – including Adidas, Bayer, Boeing and Microsoft – have now responded to this call. They have deducted their advertising budgets from Facebook for July in order to set an example against hate and discrimination. Even though there are now different opinions as to why companies are doing this – whether out of solidarity or for marketing purposes – the question remains: If this advertising opportunity is removed, where will the marketing budget be used instead? Can display advertising – especially for the B2B sector – be a long-term solution? 

Display advertising in B2B

A short explanation in advance: display advertising relies on graphic advertising media such as banners, buttons, videos, animations or images, which are placed on different websites. However, it is important to differentiate B2B and B2C online banner advertising, because B2B buying behaviour is fundamentally different from B2C. Professional B2B buyers are not tempted by discount campaigns or emotional impulses when buying a product. Instead, features of B2B purchasing decisions often include, lasting for weeks or even months, obtaining several offers from different competitors, the products/services in demand are normally so complex that they cannot be purchased online or the buyer is bound to a contract for a longer period of time and can only make the purchase after several months. These special features must be taken into account in B2B display advertising, otherwise there will be great disappointment when your B2B companies or agencies apply success parameters from consumer campaigns.

To tell you the truth: display advertising is not a short-term solution. You have to build these ad’s success over many months and repeatedly remind your purchasing decision makers of your brand using these display ads. Additionally, you need staying power. That’s why B2B display marketing campaigns have to be played out again and again over a longer period of time in order to have an impact. Only then can you adequately evaluate results.

Measure and evaluate display advertising

Speaking of evaluation… Of course display marketing campaigns have to be measured and evaluated just like any other online marketing strategy. Unfortunately, the common metric measurement systems such as click-through rate (CTR) or the amount of ad impressions (or customer contacts) say very little about the actual success of a campaign, especially in the B2B sector. Rarely are products and services needed or purchased at the moment of an ad impression, but instead at a later date. In addition, click rates are usually quite low, although an advertising effect is definitely present. Therefore, the click rate is only a very limited metric for evaluating a B2B display campaign.

You should instead focus on how many experts from your industry can be reach and evaluate the so-called ‘viewtime’. This describes the average viewing time of the banners, i.e. the time in which experts were shown the advertising media until the page is refreshed. They key is to use display advertising to position yourself in front of potential customers into the long term and win them as customers at the time of a concrete buying interest.

Plant with display advertising and harvest at the right time

So if display advertising is not a short-term solution, why should B2B companies use it at all? Because it is the right tool for “seeding”, i.e. planting the idea that your company has the right solution or product when it is needed by your customers sometime in the future. It not only boosts your brand awareness, but also encourages the sustainable sale of your products. It is important that you stay on the ball and deliver the campaigns on an on-going basis, so that when the customer has a concrete purchasing need, your brand will be in their memory. If you only run campaigns selectively, there is a risk that you will miss the moment of demand and the time they make their purchasing decision. If you use your display advertising to create a long-lasting presence within your core target audience this will have a positive effect on both your sales and your brand success.


To return to our original question: Can display advertising be an alternative to Facebook advertising in B2B marketing? Absolutely! If you’re looking for a long-term solution where you want to strengthen your brand awareness and stay in the memory of your customers, consider display advertising as an option for your released marketing budget – but remember you’ll need to adopt a long term perspective.