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Top-of-Funnel YouTube Audiences for B2B



When you think of YouTube as an advertising platform, I bet you first think of B2C marketing. But YouTube is a powerful, untapped gold mine for B2B that not a lot of advertisers utilize. When you search for B2B Advertising on YouTube, you get a lot of information about content, what you should be posting on your YouTube channel, to couple with your ads, and how your content should differ from B2C. But there isn’t much on how to plan a B2B top-of-funnel (TOF) targeting strategy and audience options for B2B advertising. 

I’ll start with the obvious – you cannot plan a B2B advertising strategy the same as you would plan a B2C advertising strategy. 

B2C TOF focuses on brand awareness, casting your brand’s net out into the world, and seeing what sticks. You’re planning audiences at a large-scale market, trying to grab the attention of those who are potential customers by appealing to their emotions. 

B2B TOF is so different (and in my opinion, a lot harder to target) because you’re usually focusing on a niche, small market and trying to convince audiences to purchase based on rationale, not emotion. The main goal of B2B is typically lead generation, which could then move through the sales cycle and turn into a completed purchase. 

With B2C, you’re trying to get someone to do the exact end result you want (an exception being expensive consumer products, which often have a lead gen component). 

Long story short – it’s really, really difficult to try to fit a B2C YouTube strategy to a B2B brand. That’s why I’m here to help! YouTube is an extremely smart option to test, especially with the holiday season coming up and businesses planning next year. A lot of us have been working from home for quite some time, driving an increase in content consumption across the board, including on YouTube. It’s more than likely you’re going to find more B2B decision makers on Youtube than you would have before the pandemic. 

So let’s get into some ideas on how to plan your B2B YouTube Audiences. This works for any type of B2B business, but for the purposes of this post I’ll use an example so we can walk through the thought process behind the options. 

Top-of-funnel YouTube Audiences for B2B Businesses

Let’s say you’re a fitness equipment retailer, but your target audience is “decision makers at gyms and clubs” and you want them to submit a sales form showing their interest in purchasing multiple pieces of commercial fitness equipment. 

First things first, what kind of audiences are available for YouTube, and what are the differences? 

Well, your audience options for B2B are the exact same for B2C, it just requires a little more time and planning to determine what makes sense for your target audience. 

  1. Similar Audiences: Reach new audiences who are similar to your users in your remarketing list and showcase similar buying behavior.
    Example for B2B: Similar to “users who have purchased strength equipment for a commercial gym in the last 90 days”.
  2. In-Market Audiences: Reach people who are actively researching and intending to buy products or services you offer – including those thinking of buying from your competitors.
    Example: Users who search for “commercial gym equipment” or “strength equipment for gyms”. 
  3. Custom Affinity: Reach people based on a holistic picture of their lifestyles, interests, and needs. You can utilize website URLs (your own or other relevant brands) and create audiences based on those who visit those sites.
    Example: Users who interact with specific web URLs, like www.muscleandfitness.com, www.active.com, and www.breakingmuscle.com. 

If you’re new to B2B advertising on YouTube, I would recommend testing all three audiences, segmented by ad group. That way you can see which audiences are resonating with your ads, make optimizations to your audiences based on performance, and pause any that aren’t performing well. For YouTube, I recommend testing audiences for no less than one month, that way you really get a good idea of who your audience truly is, what their behaviors are, and how to adjust your media plan accordingly. 

Pro Tip: Don’t Forget Age Targeting

Age targeting is something that I see those who are new to B2B forget to implement or not consider, with both YouTube and Search in general. With B2C, you keep your age ranges super wide so you can hit as many consumers as possible without limiting your reach. With B2B, you typically want to hit decision makers or people who we are under assumption to have a few years of working experience. This is why I strongly encourage you to take a look at your search campaigns if you don’t already have age restrictions in place and figure out which age range works best for your company goals and paid media KPIs. 

Top-of-funnel YouTube Audiences Examples for B2B Businesses

To see what these would look like built out, an example audience targeting plan for a commercial fitness retailer would look something like this: 

Audience Type Age Strategy Rationale
Similar Audience 25 – 65 Utilize audiences that are similar to those who have submitted a sales form through our CRM in the L90D. This keeps our audience targeting small and reliable, knowing we are hitting audiences that look like past customers. 
In-Market Audience 25 – 65 Couple blogs/industry news sites that are relevant to commercial gym owners/decision makers with purchase-intent keywords and phrases. Target people who look at commercial fitness industry news and blogs, either as a current gym owner, purchaser on behalf of a gym, or planning to open a gym. Purchase intent keywords help narrow the targeting to those actively searching for gym equipment, excluding consumers looking for home equipment.
Custom Affinity  25 – 65 Target competitor brand commercial fitness sales websites, with a qualifier that the website be similar to our own commercial retail website. We want to remain competitive, and because we cannot actively place YouTube ads on a competitor page, we want to target those who are interested in our competitors. Couple that with those who are similar to page visitors from our own website, and narrows down from B2C interest to B2B interest. 

And there you have it! B2B targeting is fun because it gives you the opportunity to put yourself further into your target market’s role, piecing together how a B2C platform can work for a B2B target audience. Just make sure you really do the research to execute these audiences, and have the time to test to refine your targeting. Happy planning!



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