Online B2B: More Data Needed
"We need more data!" said Geoffrey Ramsey, CEO of eMarketer, at the start of his presentation of Data and Trends in B2B Advertising Online. Nevertheless, he said that of the roughly $6 billion that was spent on online ads in 2002, B2B spending made up only12.8%, (about $777 million), but eMarketer, based on a plethora of research, expects 2003 to bring that number up to $895 million (a 14.2% increase.)
Gordon Hughes, head of American Business Media, an industry association that represents the interests of business magazines, websites and tradeshows, was more optimistic. He said ABM predicts a 20-30% growth for online B2B this year. "The Internet has grown faster than any other category in B2B," Hughes said. "The Internet is not deserving of the ups and downs [of the last few years]. We see robust growth."
The predicted increase is largely due to the fact that B2B advertisers are just beginning to discover the Internet as an advertising medium.
Tom Stein, President and CEO of Stein Rogan + Partners, presented a case study of his agency's work with Symbol Technologies, which in just 12 months went from using almost no interactive in their media mix to launching their first almost entirely digital campaign.
"Integrated Interactive," Stein said, should be a full partner in the media mix. "It's truly the 'Active Ingredient,'" he added, echoing the tagline of the IAB's current advertising campaign promoting the power of online advertising.
During the afternoon power panel, moderated by BtoB Magazine editor Ellis Booker, all of the panelists (including IBM, EURO RSCG, and Hewlett-Packard) agreed that online B2B spending has been very flat to date, but they're beginning to see the shift of dollars to the web. The HP representative said that the company, based on the success of recent interactive efforts, increased their online spending. "As long as the medium continue to prove itself, spending will continue to increase," she said.
Similarly, IBM expects the spending increase to come from spending on integration, and "Interactive will certainly benefit."