An efficient and well targeted online advertising program often means the difference between merely average and outstanding results. However, there is very little quality research available for online planning in B2B.

Here are some of the common challenges marketers face planning a B2B advertising program:

  • The majority of research services are designed for consumer marketers and provide little information on professional roles.
  • Focused vertical publications are often too small to be covered by research sources.
  • Information from publisher’s own research studies may be biased and does not allow for objective comparisons across properties.

These limitations mean B2B marketers need to get creative in order to identify and evaluate new online advertising opportunities. Below are six ways to identify b2b online advertising partners, using free resources and a little bit of creativity.

1. Google

Plain old-fashioned search will often uncover potential niche partners, from small sites to blogs. While marketers engrossed in their industry will often know many of these sites, smaller or more technical properties are often an overlooked opportunity. Add keywords like magazine, blog, news or site that describe media properties to the audience or category you are looking for.

Example: if you are looking for state and local government, a search for “state government magazine” includes three publishers that serve state or local government and one that covers federal, state and local in the first page.

2. List Tools

Most trade publishers still rent email or postal lists, making list searches a good way to identify publishers as well. The information in the list datacards also provides a significant amount of information about each publisher’s audience, often more than is available through general research tools or media kits.

Suggested Resource: NextMark Mailing List Finder

3. Google Ad Planner

Rather than searching based on demographics or site categories, use Google Ad Planner to find B2B opportunities by using keywords and sites visited. These options are available under “Online Activity” in the “Search for Placements” tab.

Example: to find ways to reach a senior finance audience, look for sites with a similar audience to Sites that index highly against the audience at the time I checked included Journal of Accountancy, SmartBrief, HBR, and BizJournals.

One caution when using Google Ad Planner: sites like SmartBrief in the example above are often included in the results because traffic is redirected through them. Sometimes this is valuable info (in this case), other times it just adds noise.

4. Media Kits and Research

If you are working in a vertical for the first time, look at the sources publishers compare themselves too in their media kits and audience comparisons. If a publisher you are considering feels it is necessary to defend their property against Site A, it is worth your time to see if Site A should be on your list.

5. Twitter Streams and Content Curators

What sites do people in your audience read? See what content is shared on social media or through sources that curate content from a range of sites (like SmartBrief).

Tip: if individuals share content using the popular URL shortener, you can often see what content they share by looking at their account.

6. Delicious

Delicious, the social bookmarking site, continues to be an excellent way to quickly find sites in a given category. Use the Delicious Tag Search and refine the tags you use based on the related tags list Delicious provides.

Searching for publishers that cover the Human Resources function, this tag search result on Delicious provides a starting point that includes a number of good opportunities to reach HR audiences.

With a little creativity, these free resources will help you uncover new opportunities for B2B advertising campaigns. Next week we will look at creative ways to evaluate each of these publishers, again using free tools and resources.

Your Turn

Do you have questions about finding opportunities in your category or your own tips to share? Post them in the comments below or share them with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Photo Credit: On Target by on Flickr.