Conducting B2B Market Research for AdTech


The right process for B2B content marketing and other research outputs.

While content is often heralded as the best performing tool to generate demand and new business when marketing adTech, companies often approach content development and distribution narrowly, with weak content and limited strategy. Marketing without clear insights (e.g., a brand’s position vs. competition, or the most important requirements and pain-points that customers in that market require) simply doesn’t work.

Through research, content can be developed that offers value to specific audiences; providing helpful information that may be difficult to find elsewhere, or unique in its insight, demonstrates the value of your company – and the way you think about your customers’ problems. 

Begin With a Clear Hypothesis

Research should always begin with a series of simple, direct questions. For example: 

1. Who are you trying to reach?
2. How are you going to reach them?
3. What is the message/information you want to communicate?
4. When should your content be in market?
5. Why? What is the goal?

While these questions may appear basic, spending some time thinking through the answers yields greater opportunity for success. Based on these answers, tactics can be devised, and goals outlined.

From these answers, a hypothesis can be formed (more on that in a future post). It may be as simple as “We believe that digital publishers are looking for an alternative to search and social advertising channels.” Research can then be formulated not to prove this is true, but to ask a series of questions designed to discover wether or not this is true, and why. 

Choosing the Right Research Partner

There is both an art and a science to the process of conducting B2B market research. Yes, the right partner will have well-qualified panels to survey, and will have a process designed to yield significant data and insights. This partner should also have a careful, scientific approach – data itself holds no insight, and is easily corrupted. Those designing and deploying a survey must protect this concept, and allow science, not marketing desires, to lead the way. 

The Right Panel for the Job

In an industry such as adTech, counting the cohorts who make technology-based decisions is relatively straightforward. They can be broken into three major groups: 

1. Marketers (people who work at either a brand or agency)
2. Digital Publishers 
3. Technology Vendors 

These cohorts may then be broken up to meet additional criteria (for example, a research project may only want to speak to publishers in the ComScore Top 50, or marketers who are focused on buying video advertising programmatically, or be exclusive to agency marketers in CPG with Director-level+ titles). Wether through user-driven online surveys (quantitative) or interview-based 1:1 conversations (quantitative), working with a partner who understands how to screen (qualify/disqualify participants accurately) is essential.

Just as important as size and qualifications of a cohort, though, is how engaged they are. Working with a research partner that has honed a strong reputation matters. Response times can be far shorter, data more accurate, and incentives to participants less cost-prohibitive. 

Deploying Research Studies

The in-field work of B2B market research is equally important. Surveys must be designed to maintain neutrality, and for a survey taker, the process must appear as seamless as possible. It’s critical that respondents think only of the questions being asked – not how to comprehend the survey’s architecture when having trouble navigating from one question to the next.

Collected Data Is Merely the Halfway Mark

No matter how data-rich a B2B market research project is once a survey has closed, the work to produce meaningful insights and content is just beginning. Data itself is useless. It must be processed, normalized and interpreted. Then, it must be interrogated to discover the underlying insights present. Lastly, it must be presented in a digestible narrative to achieve consensus and meaning. It is important to work with a team who both understands how to interpret survey data, and how to contextualize it in the complicated, jargon-rich world of adTech. 

The (Almost) Last Step: Bringing B2B Market Research to Life

From insights provided by the data, several outputs can be defined and worked toward, with the data as a guide. Such outputs may include: 

1. Product Differentiation Strategy (Internal)
2. A Competitive Benchmarking White Paper (Internal and External)
3. Thought Leadership White Papers (External, taking a position that is supported by research data)

Data and interpretation may guide the insights, but the last step in creating engaging content requires writing – narrative storytelling the brings data and insights to life. From content writing to data visualizations, it must take shape in a voice that is both human and invokes the spirit of the brand. Lastly, for B2B content marketing to be effective, SEO often plays a role in shaping the content.  

From here, it is in the hands of diligent marketing and PR teams to deliver this research-backed content to the marketplace, driving inbound, qualified leads and hopefully) generating earned media.