All Playbooks


A B2B Programmatic Marketing Playbook

How iABM is about to change the game and how you can stay ahead

Coming Soon

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategic B2B marketing approach that begins with identifying target accounts within a market, and then building out highly-relevant marketing tactics catered to your most qualified audiences. You can see our entire ABM Playbook here.
  • A new partnership between The Trade Desk, Bombora, and Chalice called Intelligent Account-Based Marketing (iABM), has unlocked programmatic ABM advertising at scale. This means that B2B marketers can benefit from the efficiency and scalability of programmatic media, while maintaining a highly-targeted, account-based strategy.
  • There are three important ways in which B2B marketers using ABM can now utilize programmatic advertising: iABM provides the ability to incorporate frequency capping at an account level, it unlocks CTV for B2B marketers at the scale of The Trade Desk, and allows advertisers to measure programmatic advertising delivery at an account level.
  • This playbook outlines how B2B marketers can think about the ways in which programmatic media can support their ABM strategies, key benefits, and actionable steps for getting started.

About the Imaginarium

The Imaginarium is a B2B creative-driven performance agency for B2B marketers that uses the superpowers of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) to power growth.

If you’re a B2B company that’s buying media and wants to learn more about how ABM can help you, then just bounce over to our website and get in touch. Bet we can help!


What is that rumbling that we feel in the world of B2B marketing? What seismic convergence of power prompted The Imaginarium to take notice, not unlike the caped crusader’s response to the fabled “bat signal” that would illuminate Gotham at a moment of duress. While we’ve seen the signal and leapt to action – it’s not distress but opportunity, and instead of slinking around in the dark, we’re singing from the mountain tops about iABM, a new partnership between the Trade Desk, Bombora, and Chalice, that allows all of the Trade Desk’s inventory to be addressed and measured at an account level! 

Yes, that means programmatic ABM at scale for B2B marketers – and that’s a very big deal. Before we dive into why it’s so significant, let’s first explore why programmatic media has been so problematic for B2B.

The Problem

Programmatic advertising has posed ongoing challenges for B2B marketers due to its historical focus on consumer-oriented metrics and targeting methods. There is a structural disconnect when attempting to use B2C strategies for B2B.

B2C is primarily targeting a single decision-maker, at the right moment in time, for a fairly short buying cycle. For example, once a person starts to consider booking travel or buying a car, those buying cycles are approximately 24 hours and 30 days respectively. In fact, for travel specifically, once a person starts researching flights and hotel reservations, the time to influence that decision is 30 minutes.

B2B purchase decisions are made by ‘buying committees” that each have their own focus and perspective. For example, if a company is considering purchasing a CRM platform, the VP of Sales might be focused on functionality and usability, the CFO focused on terms and conditions, or price and the VP of Engineering might be worried about integrations and API’s. In addition to multiple decision makers (i.e. the buying committee) the buying cycle is measured in months or even years, not hours or days.

Therefore, at its core, B2B marketing requires a more personalized approach, involving niche audiences and complex decision-making processes. Traditional programmatic methods, built for larger consumer audiences, struggled to effectively reach and engage these hyper-specific B2B audiences, leading to issues with relevance, precision, and ROI. However, advancements in programmatic technology and the emergence of ABM strategies have addressed many of these challenges, allowing B2B marketers to better tailor their campaigns to specific accounts and decision-makers.

The issues that have haunted B2B marketers hoping to unlock the power of ABM are threefold:

As you know – The Imaginarium’s superpower is using ABM to help B2B companies grow effectively. You can check out our ABM Playbook to see all the exciting ways we accomplish that – and even find a roadmap that will help improve your GTM using account-based tactics like programmatic advertising!

How It Works

Understanding how The Trade Desk has unlocked ALL of its inventory can help you understand why it’s so powerful. First off, let’s refresh our memory of what The Trade Desk actually is. The Trade Desk offers access to over 500 billion daily impressions of advertising inventory. Apart from Google, it’s about the most powerful and fully-scaled digital channel you can use to engage your next customer.

The Trade Desk platform allows you to target individuals using a huge array of data inputs, to make sure the right person is seeing your ad at the right time. While this has been a game-changer for B2C companies, it’s been mostly a fever dream for the B2B marketers among us. You see, those pesky individual IDs didn’t match to company domains, making ABM impossible.

Enter two of the most exciting companies transforming ABM today: Bombora and Chalice. You might know Bombora already. In addition to being one of the most powerful intent data providers, it’s also developed the deepest available data set matching company domains to individual IDs. Now, meet Chalice: a custom algorithm company that ties all this data together. 

The outcome is simple. Suddenly all those gazillion Trade Desk IDs are aligned to specific companies and can be addressed and measured by smart B2B marketers. More importantly, the early adopters will generate a disproportionate benefit as always happens when powerful new media tactics are unlocked. 

This is how iABM actually works!

Three Key Opportunities Created by Programmatic ABM

The result of this exciting new partnership is that marketers can now access all of the Trade Desk's inventory and technology to buy advertising and measure it across the web at an account level. There are three immediate opportunities that iABM creates for B2B marketers. These changes have a direct impact on a modern B2B CMO’s ability to use ABM to effectively drive growth. 

Frequency Capping

Frequency capping is a powerful tool in programmatic media buying. It limits how often people see an ad, avoiding ad fatigue and ensuring the message isn't missed. It helps find the perfect balance, just like Goldilocks and her porridge!

But that's not all. It's also great for your budget. Without capping, it’s easy to overspend on a small group of people who are exposed to the ad too many times. With frequency capping, however, your budget gets spread out, reaching a wider audience and giving you better value for your money. And the best part? You gain valuable data to improve your marketing over time! By controlling the number of ad views per person, you can evaluate what works best and what doesn't – think of it as having your own marketing crystal ball.

In short, frequency capping is essential for a successful programmatic media strategy. It keeps viewers happy, maximizes your budget, and supercharges your campaign's effectiveness. 

CTV for B2B at Scale

Just imagine, you’re all cuddled up on a rainy Thursday evening. You’re finally done with a long day of work worrying about that terrible ERP system your company has, and how you’ve got to figure out a solution pronto. You’ve got a minute to yourself to unwind to the culinary antics of “The Bear” on Hulu or those delightful Seinfeld reruns on Netflix. Suddenly, instead of the fifteenth Geico or Progressive ad – you’re shown a beautiful ad from NetSuite about the exact ERP problem you’ve been investigating all day at work. Talk about creating attention and connection! 

Connected TV, or “CTV,”  gives B2B marketers access to a diverse audience of professionals and decision-makers at a moment where they are captivated by what they’re watching, and using a video format that generates deep engagement and drives salience. Importantly, with programmatic CTV ads, B2B marketers can precisely target accounts that fit their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), ensuring their message hits the mark. These ads are immersive, leaving a lasting impact that boosts brand awareness and credibility. Plus, CTV comes with robust measurement and analytics, allowing B2B marketers to track their campaign's effectiveness and make data-driven decisions for better ROI. All in all, CTV offers a powerful new platform for B2B marketers to connect and engage with their next customer through personalized, impactful advertising.

As you can see on the chart below, CTV is one of the fastest growing ways brands are creating engagement, and unlocking this channel for B2B marketers is an incredible new capability for smart CMOs to explore.

Measurement at an Account Level

Programmatic ABM is a game-changer for B2B marketers, bringing measurement to a whole new level! By focusing on targeted accounts instead of individual leads, ABM enables precise tracking of engagement. Reporting from the Trade Desk not only allows you to size your market, and measure the depth of engagement your campaign has created, but also reports impressions at an account level – enabling smart marketers to engage the exact share of market they need to drive growth.  Now if you want to that that measurement to the next level, consider a solution like Octane 11, which integrates all your channels, from programmatic, to LinkedIn, to marketing automation, into one ABM focused dashboard.

Getting started

Now that we’ve walked through the immediate impacts of programmatic ABM, you must be chomping at the bit! Well hold your horses, we’re going to tell you exactly how to do it – from choosing the right formats, to selecting your Target Account Lists (TALs), and to ultimately measuring your results and optimizing them over time.

Launching your iABM program

Now it’s time to take these options and put them into practice for your company. We’d suggest you take a look at our full ABM playbook to take a deeper dive into tactics beyond programmatic media – but this should be enough to help you get going!

Define your TALs

To ace your ABM program, effective audience identification and targeting are essential. Start by crafting Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) and personas through customer analysis, understanding the buying committee, defining key characteristics, and identifying pain points. Once your ICPs are ready, turn them into Target Account Lists (TALs) using stakeholder and CRM data, combined with buying signals like intent data. 

When you align your marketing outreach with the right people, content, and timing, you'll generate high ROI and engagement, and achieve ABM success!

Choose your formats

There are a few crucial things you should address when selecting your ad format. To make the best choice, start by understanding your target audience and their preferences. Once you've done this you'll want to get into the creativity and storytelling elements. Some best practices to this end that you'll want to keep top of mind are: 

  • Align the ad format with your campaign goals, whether it's brand awareness, sales, or engagement.
  • Use eye-catching visuals and concise messaging to make your ad stand out.
  • Tailor the format to the platform where it will be displayed, considering its capabilities.
  • Employ interactivity and storytelling to engage the audience emotionally.
  • Include a strong call-to-action to drive desired actions.
  • Test and optimize ad formats based on performance data for better results.
  • Embrace new ad formats and stay open to innovation to capture audience attention effectively.

For a comprehensive overview of your formatting choices, check out the IAB Tech Lab’s great whitepaper on CTV formats right here.

Build creative ads that maximize engagement

Creative easily can become an afterthought for data-driven ABM marketers; however, reaching the right audiences is only half the battle. All the tactics you’ve spent so much time mastering, are in service of memorable creative.  Nothing plays a more important role in clearly communicating both your understanding of your customers’ problem as well as the unique solution you deliver than the salience of your message. Here are some best practices to consider.

  • Lean into emotion. According to research via the B2B Marketing Institute, emotional ads are more effective at driving KPIs than rational ads. Find creative ways to communicate the emotional impact you’ll create when you solve a customer’s problem, alleviate a pain point, or make your customer feel like a superhero.
  • Incorporate distinctive assets: In a saturated market, ensuring a brand's Mental and Physical Availability is vital. Utilizing distinctive assets like logos, colors, and jingles helps set brands apart, enhancing recognition and fostering long-term consumer connections. By incorporating these elements into your strategy, you'll create cohesive brand communication through a salient and memorable message. Discover more here at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute where the distinctive assets of Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk lead a coterie of brilliant marketing scientists.
  • Apply empathy. Remember that great creative isn’t about you so much as it’s about seeing a challenge or opportunity from the customers’ standpoint. Instead of using phrases like, “Explore the features of our new product, designed for improved functionality. Check it out now.” opt for language that is customer-centric, for example, “We're here to support you every step of the way, providing solutions that make your life easier and more manageable.”

Harness the Power of Video for B2B

According to Hubspot, 55% of people watch online videos daily, so it’s no surprise that video remains an increasingly important tool for B2B marketers. Unlike their B2C counterparts, B2B marketers typically work within leaner creative resources, which can make video seem like a daunting format. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Start with the goal. Is the goal of your video content to introduce your brand and company? Or, is it to showcase a new feature and its impact, like a product demo? Perhaps your video is designed to illustrate how you helped a customer in a similar industry. Think through the job you want your creative asset to do, and what you want your content to achieve. Then develop storylines based on those desired outcomes.
  • Optimize for obvious takeaways. Ensure you’re catching attention right from the beginning of the content by demonstrating relevance. Once you’ve generated attention, make sure that you’re building mental availability by being succinct and clear in your messaging: for the desired audience, your offering can help solve X problem, resulting in Y solution.”
  • Ensure your video content matches channel best practices. This includes things like orientation and sizing, as well as ideal length and production quality. For example, a 5-min case study video on YouTube will look different than a more natural “how to” tutorial that’s built for TikTok’s short-form vertical format.
  • Use templates: For ABM marketers, you will likely define formats that work that can be tailored for customer segments. Creating templates will save time and resources so you can make minor tweaks for varying audiences. For example, consider reapplying something like a case study template that follows a formula that’s easily scalable - or utilizing a piece of creative where a word or image can be swapped based on the audience. 

Measure and optimize

Measuring and optimizing creative ads starts with setting clear objectives. Going back to the previous point about defining your goals, ensure you know which metrics matter. For ABM marketers, this will likely be performance-driven (e.g. demo sign ups), and eventually deals closed as attributable to the campaign.

Once you have set your metrics, you can track and optimize the campaign over time. One popular method is A/B testing, in which you develop a few different versions of the creative with slight differences, for example, varying headlines, visuals, or support copy. Running these ads in tandem will give you quick directional feedback as to which is performing better, so you can allocate your dollars to your best-performing creative. It’s also important to utilize tracking tools and analytics to gather data on ad performance, monitor account engagement, and analyze audience behavior to help inform your content choices. Here at The Imaginarium, we absolutely LOVE Octane 11. There are other great tools that are perfect for all kinds of price points and scenarios like DealFont, Lead Forensics, and even our old friend 6Sense, which adds predictive analytics to measurement. 

To avoid ad fatigue, you’ll want to implement the standard media best practices, like conversion tracking to measure actions taken after ad engagement, and help you optimize ad frequency. 

Finally, keep an eye on competitors to gain insights into the market and continuously improve your creative. Tracking competitor ads is less about copying their approach and more about understanding how they are positioned so that you can be distinct and memorable. Of course, creativity is constantly recycled, so being a student of great advertising in general will give you opportunities to pull in ideas and concepts from other work in the market.

By implementing these strategies, marketers can make better informed decisions, refine their ads, and achieve better results with each campaign.


Holy smokes. That’s a lot. But really, is it? We mean, does it really seem that hard to stand up a strong programmatic capability to complement the other media you’re buying? No, it’s not that hard at all… and given the recent innovations taking place there’s an enormous advantage to being an early entrant to this new advertising battlefront. Remember, to the victors go the spoils. 

There’s no denying that the industry is at an inflection point. With the help of key players like the Trade Desk, Chalice, and Bombora, B2B marketers are on their way to leveraging programmatic technology in unprecedented ways, and, in turn, delivering tailored messages to key accounts, resulting in more effective and efficient marketing efforts. This convergence has empowered marketers to achieve better ROI, increased engagement, and improved customer relationships by delivering the right message to the right accounts at the right time – and we’re just getting started. 

Now go forth and conquer using the swift and mighty sword of iABM! 

Let’s get started!