You’ve Heard of Account-Based Marketing — But What About Account-Based Advertising?

By Madison Taylor
December 18, 2023
Arrow hitting a blue dart board

You’ve likely heard of account-based marketing—the idea of starting from the bottom of the funnel to identify and strategically target key leads at an organization rather than narrowing in on leads from a wide pool—but have you heard of account-based advertising? Account-based advertising (ABA) is essentially the same concept as ABM, but it involves using extremely targeted advertising to reach the right people at the right company.

How ABA Works

10 years ago, it would have been nearly impossible to serve an ad to only a handful of people. But thanks to modern technology, we can now show ads with more precision than ever before. Here’s how ABA works:

IP Targeting

The first mechanism that lets you engage in account-based advertising is IP targeting. Most big companies are centralized in one or two big buildings, depending on the number of branches they have. Those buildings have easily identifiable IP addresses through which all of the company’s internet traffic is routed. If you can find that IP address, you can show ads to people in that building and that building alone.

The downside is that IP targeting will show the same ads to everyone in the building, which could mean advertising to dozens or hundreds of people who don’t have anything to do with the purchasing process for your product. Virtual private networks (VPNs), which are becoming more and more popular, will also interfere with IP targeting. Mozilla has just announced that its Firefox browser will soon have a built-in browser.

Third-Party Data

The second option is to buy the relevant information from a third-party database. There are lots of online services that keep track of the job titles and contact info of the executives at various companies, and you can buy that contact information from them directly. With the right contacts, you can send emails and serve ads to exactly the people who will be most interested.

The problem with buying contact information from a third-party broker is that you can’t know how accurate it is. Data decay is a real concern—up to 70 percent of B2B contact information is out of date within a year of acquiring it—and if you pay for outdated information, you’ll just be wasting your money and your time. Employing a CRM can help you track how old your information is, whether you got a response when you reached out, and how reliable your databases have been. You can even combine the two, cross-checking IP addresses against broker data, but no system is guaranteed to give you completely reliable information.

Social Media

The most popular approach to ABA is social media. Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to conduct advanced searches by company, location, job title, and dozens of other criteria. Assuming people are keeping their job information up-to-date, you can easily find the right people at the right companies to deliver ads and other relevant content. Moreover, specific ad settings on LinkedIn and Meta enable you to retarget people who interact with your ads, reinforcing a successful ABA campaign.

The Benefits of ABA

There’s a lot to love about account-based advertising. If applied properly, it can be an extremely rewarding and lucrative strategy for any B2B company.

Proactive, Not Reactive

First of all, it’s proactive rather than reactive. Most advertising isn’t served until the target expresses some interest in your company. Google Ads don’t show up until the person searches for your product. Banner ads don’t appear until a person visits your site. Facebook ads don’t appear until the Facebook pixel is triggered. If an executive isn’t looking for anything related to your product, they’ll probably never see an ad for it.

ABA takes the opposite approach. Rather than waiting for your targets to express an interest in your company or stumble across your site on their own, you can find them where they browse and serve them content that meets their exact needs.

Compliment to Email Marketing

ABA is also a great complement to email marketing. The average office worker receives more than 120 emails every day. Even if they were spending their whole day on email (and they aren’t), they wouldn’t have time to pay attention to all of them. Email marketing can still be a great way to keep in touch with people, but it’s hard to get noticed in the crowd. ABA can help you stand out when used in conjunction with your email marketing efforts.

Supplement to Inbound Marketing

Advertising doesn’t demand that someone take extra time out of their day. Instead, it supplements your inbound strategy, allowing you to unobtrusively reach your audience on the sites they’re already visiting. A targeted ABA strategy gets your name, your brand, and your message in front of the people who actually want to work with you, and they don’t even have to open an email.

Account-Based Advertising: A Key to ABM Success

Account-based advertising can help B2B organizations implement a successful ABM campaign. By enabling companies to create ads that reach the right audience, at the right place, and at the right time, ABA helps take precision ABM to the next level.