Are B2B Streaming TV Ads a Waste of Money? The Pitfalls of CTV Marketing for B2B


By Summer Craig, Founder and President of Craig Group

In the age of streaming video content, you can’t avoid Connected TV (CTV). Nor would you want to because streaming is the conduit to a lot more content. And a lot more advertising opportunities.

It’s also hard to find a television today that isn’t a CTV. People are saying “no” to cable and satellite and “yes” to streaming, with the number of people watching cable or satellite dropping from 76% in 2015 to 56% in 2021. But it’s not just large screens where we watch streaming videos. Access to content is everywhere – from our phone, laptops and tablets – and it’s fast. You might look at a TikTok reel in line at the grocery store, click on a video in your social media newsfeed, or search for a specific how-to video on YouTube – all in a matter of seconds.

This might lead B2B operators to believe that streaming ads makes sense. As a matter of fact, according to the IAB 2021 Video Ad Spend & 2022 Outlook study, CTV ad spending increased to over $15 billion in 2021 and is expected to increase another 39% percent in 2022 to over $21 billion. However, if you’re considering buying B2B ads on CTV, you need to consider multiple factors to ensure you’re getting actual ROI.


As consumers, we stream different content on different devices at different times. That’s where marketing comes in. You need to think about your buyers in terms of who is watching, when they are watching and what they are watching.

The good news about CTV advertising is that the process is somewhat democratized. It used to be hard to buy a ‘television ad.’ You had to be a big brand and an ad agency. But now anyone can access CTV video ads through programmatic advertising, which is much more targeted through behavioral data.

Here’s an example. You can choose to run your commercial during the Sunday night football game broadcast via NBC which will reach lots of people, many of whom may not be your buyers. Or you can purchase a streaming video ad that targets a very specific audience using available data. For example, manufacturing decision makers living in the Southeastern part of the United States.

Assuming the intended recipient is watching on a streaming television, like NBC’s Peacock through FuboTV, your ad will run in front of that audience. Their next-door neighbor might be watching the same football game on the same platform, but see a totally different ad.

The ad is less about the content and more about the person watching it.

Cable TV does sell ads by ‘zone’ or zip codes, but it won’t get you automated bidding based on an individual’s available data. That data is available because of all the things that we do online, such as use LinkedIn, browse company websites, or search for content that appeals to us. With CTV, you can also retarget or show ads to a potential buyer that has already been to your website.

With CTV, you can also retarget or show ads to a potential buyer that has already been to your website.


While this type of advertising seems like a potential B2B solution, CTV doesn’t always make sense for B2B. Why? Because B2B companies have very specific, small pockets of buyers.

Although CTV does offer unprecedented scale, the audience is still probably too big for what you want. Also, the smaller the target, the more expensive the ads become.

Video costs more because it is sight and sound and motion. It is push marketing, meaning you ‘push’ ads to people, as opposed to something like Google ads which are a pull, meaning the consumer is already looking for relevant information or ‘pulling’ it to them.

There are some exceptions, depending on the product and the brand. CTV ads are very good at making a brand impact if you want people to know your name. But there isn’t much ROI in that.


For most B2B companies, ROI – or revenue – needs to be the focus. Instead of CTV advertising, maybe you choose YouTube ads on mobile devices targeted to people that have visited your website. Or video embeds into your CRM for emails sent only to people who are qualified to buy your product.

Although your B2B business might get the hard sell to buy into CTV advertising, with a limited budget, your marketing dollars can get a better ROI elsewhere, at least for now.


Tricia Eaton

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