Does Account Based Advertising Really Work? The Results are In…

Awhile back, we wrote about Engagio’s first Account Based Everything campaign, where we discussed the methodology and results from running our own Target Account Prospecting (TAP) campaign to a cold set of target accounts.

At the time, we took a look at the results from the lens of opportunities and MQAs, which are great metrics to take inventory of, but may not tell the entire story when it comes to engagement. For example, someone can engage with you but still not qualify to be a MQA – does that mean the engagement should be unaccounted? Of course not, so let’s boil the measurement down to a more simple essence: Engagement Minutes (EM).

Engagement Minutes are minutes of attention that a prospect spends with your brand. Before someone spends money with you, they will spend time with you. The best measurement of time is in minutes. EM can be time spent talking to you at a tradeshow booth, or minutes spent watching a video of yours on a 3rd party site. They can also simply be browsing pages on your website. It doesn’t matter where they were engaging as long as they are engaging with your brand, which makes  tracking all the various sources (physical, digital, cookied or non-cookied) so important. Shameless plug: Engagio does this from CRM, marketing automation, anonymous web activity or Gmail/Outlook email or calendar activity.

So now that we’re clear on Engagement Minutes, let’s take a look at how our strategies fared in that lens.

Without Further Ado, The Results

As you may recall, we tested two cohorts independently and mixed together. For approximately half of the sample, we ran our Account Based Everything Play, and for another random half, we ran Account Based Advertising. Refer to the TAP blog post for more details.

“Every medium has its strengths and weaknesses, and marketers should deploy a mix of channels that complement each other.  Advertising’s strength includes the ability to be omnipresent with a light touch. ABM ads can deliver impressions to your stakeholders for months without being invasive or annoying.  Moreover, including ABM ads in your marketing mix allows you to harmonize your messaging across channels, which increases the likelihood that prospects will engage with the message across all channels. Such omni-channel marketing produces impact that is greater than the sum of its parts. “
– Rodrigo Fuentes, Co-Founder & CEO, ListenLoop

We then took a look at the Engagement from each of these cohorts at the Account level for the 3 month-period the test ran.

The results were directionally relevant, but not statistically significant:

Accounts that did not receive any Account Based Tactic had the least engagement.

Accounts that received only one form of Account Based Tactic had slightly more engagement than those that received nothing.

Accounts that received both Account Based Tactics (play + ads) had more engagement than those that received nothing, and slightly more engagement than those that received only one tactic.

Note that for the purposes of this discussion, we broke out Ads and Plays as separate tactics to examine their effectiveness independently. Normally, an ad would be a step in a holistic Account Based Everything Play.

Here were the breakouts:

“Account-Based Advertising (ABA) is an essential component of an Account-Based Everything strategy. Most of our customers recognize that they are not doing a great job at engaging their target accounts, so ABA becomes the first step along a highly-orchestrated path driving prospects to conversion. The ability to blanket the buying committee with awareness messaging makes them much more receptive to sales efforts. And It helps progress opportunities by nurturing the entire account instead of the couple of known contacts who may or may not be the right contacts.”
– Peter Isaacson, CMO, Demandbase

Isolating Web Traffic – Were Ads Impactful?

Now let’s take a look at the results from a different angle – this time through the lens of just website traffic. Since we ran ads to about half of the target account cohort, we could measure the ad-group against a control group that received no ads. This is important to do to account for organic business growth and seasonality.

The results were once again directionally meaningful, but not significant.

Across the ads group, we saw an increase of 43% web traffic & a 47% jump in visitors.

The no-ads group still saw modest increases in web traffic and visitors (22% & 8%, respectively).

ads versus no ads

“In B2B, last decade and a half we have centered around mass emails and calls as the holy grail. We are finally recognizing that the factory mentality of cheaper and faster production does not work well when selling to humans. Quality really matters, and that’s why personalization is becoming so important.

At the same time, B2B has been a decade behind B2C when it comes using advertising to support the overarching message and engaging people on their terms across mobile, social channels, videos, and the web. The combination of personalized emails with targeted advertising can create a halo-effect of your brand across all the decision makers, giving you a competitive edge against your incumbents that are still relying on emails and calls.”
– Sangram Vajre, Co-Founder & CMO, Terminus

Ads and Account Based Plays require a lot of time and effort, but when done in conjunction, they may produce measurable results from engagement minutes and web traffic all the way down-funnel to MQAs, opportunities, and closed-won revenue.

But since account based advertising, and advertising in general may represent a significant portion of marketing budgets, you need to have the right infrastructure in place to measure the impact of those ads, especially as it relates to your target accounts. Without proper measurement, you may be blind to the performance of your ads beyond hearsay feedback, and without defensible ROI, your ads risk being on the chopping block during the next budgeting cycle.

Whether you’re just getting started in ABM or running full-fledged ABM campaigns, make sure you invest in a platform that can help you select your target accounts, measure engagement from those accounts, and run orchestrated account based plays (which include ads) into your target accounts. Account Based Ads might work as a standalone tactic, but can really help move the needle as a part of a holistic ABM strategy.


Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

One Response to “Does Account Based Advertising Really Work? The Results are In…”

May 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm, Robert Lesser said:

Great to see that Engagio is sharing its empirical testing. This is huge for the community.

Could you describe the nature of the account-based ads? Was one version tested? Was there a CTA?


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