Display Advertising 101: The Impact of Digital Ads on Account-Based Marketing

Let’s start with the basics: what is online display advertising?

Marketing Land defines it this way:

“Display advertising is a type of online advertising that comes in several forms, including banner ads, rich media, and more. Unlike text-based ads, display advertising relies on elements such as images, audio and video to communicate an advertising message.”

Online display advertising is a powerful tool across among B2B marketing for four reasons:

  • Display advertising allows marketers to target highly specific business audiences.
  • Display ads have the ability to integrate with various marketing platforms, such as account-based marketing tools, your CRM, and your marketing automation platform.
  • Display marketing functions as an “always on,” full-funnel marketing tool.
  • It’s something marketers have done since the advent of the internet, so why not?

The fourth reason isn’t a very good one, is it? I’m a big fan of display advertising, but it’s important that B2B companies understand why they’re using this channel. There’s no use in throwing money at a marketing channel and hoping it pays off.

Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to drive revenue using online ads. Display allows B2B marketers to impact objectives throughout the buyer’s journey, whether it’s improving brand awareness and engagement, driving conversions, or nurturing contacts that are in your CRM.

What many people don’t know, however, is that display advertising is also a crucial part of an integrated account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. This is what we do here at Terminus, and it’s something we’re incredibly passionate about. But before I get into the nitty-gritty of how display ads should be used in your ABM strategy, let’s break down some of the benefits.

Why Use Display Advertising in Your B2B Marketing Strategy?


Display ads can be as complex as you want them to be — especially if you venture into interactive or video advertisements. But the beauty of this medium is that it doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Some of the most effective display ads are the simplest. Take this one from Google Play, for example:

I like this banner ad, which I found on Canva’s blog, because it’s bright and eye-catching but not too busy. It also has a clear call-to-action (CTA) and a simple image that fits the messaging. Speaking of Canva — their design program is incredibly easy to use, so it’s perfect for novice designers who want to create beautiful marketing materials.


Targeted display advertising allows B2B marketers to target ads to prospects wherever they go online by using firmographic and demographic data like job function, industry, seniority, company size, geography, and so on. Account-based marketing expands your reach even further because it allows you to target decision-makers at accounts that fit your ideal customer profile (ICP), even if those contacts aren’t in your database. More on this later.


Compared to other marketing channels, display is unique in that it allows marketers to reach the largest possible audience within their target market, wherever that audience travels online — including personal and corporate tablets, mobile phones, and computers.


Display advertising can be used in different ways depending on where your prospects are in the buying process. B2B marketers can use it to build brand awareness, educate prospective customers, promote ABM video content, increase engagement in specified target accounts, or help sales close a deal. You can also target your current customers to update them about new products and features or keep your company top-of-mind when it’s time to renew their contract.


Display can be fully integrated with Salesforce and your marketing automation platform to nurture anonymous and known contacts beyond the inbox. Check out the Terminus Cloud for ABM to learn about 40+ account-based marketing tools that integrate with Salesforce to support and complement your display marketing efforts.


Full-funnel reporting and analytics give you deep insight into display advertising’s direct impact on your objectives throughout the buying process, as well as its effect on other programs. This allows your marketing team to track influence at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

How Display Advertising Impacts the Entire Customer Experience

The marketing funnel refers to the buying process from the moment prospects become aware of your brand, engage with your brand’s product and services, through to converting and becoming customers. Many B2B marketers make the mistake of focusing exclusively on bottom-of-the-funnel strategies in order to generate leads, but this strategy pales in comparison to full-funnel display advertising. A full-funnel display advertising strategy influences the entire buying process, and thus helps to raise awareness, nurture prospects before they’re ready to engage with sales, and drive new leads and customers. Display advertising’s reach and scalability allow for a level of brand exposure that cannot be achieved through any other digital media.

With Terminus,  you can use progression rules to set up digital display advertising campaigns to cover the progression of accounts from prospect to marketing-qualified lead (MQA); MQA to sales-qualified account (SQA); SQA to open opportunity; opportunity to negotiation; and negotiation to closed-won deal. You can also choose to set up progression rules for custom stages — because as we all know, every company’s sales process looks different.

How to Target Best-Fit Accounts with Digital Ads

Sometimes after prospects have educated themselves about your solutions, they will convert without any further engagement. These prospects are often referred to as “hand-raisers,” and they are in the minority of B2B buyers. Display targeting fills in the gaps by allowing your marketing team to deliver a stream of ads to target accounts.

Now, the million-dollar question: how can marketers target best-fit accounts with display ads?

Traditionally, display ads have targeted:

  • Prospects who have visited your website. This is known as retargeting.
  • Contacts that already exist in your CRM.
  • Internet users based on interests, geography, and demographics.

It can be beneficial to target the first two audiences, but the third is not ideal for B2B companies. After all, no matter how granular your targeting is, a vast majority of the audience will never convert to a lead — and fewer than 1% of leads become customers.

[ctt template=”1″ link=”bpae2″ via=”yes” ]Fewer than 1% of B2B leads turn into customers (via @forrester)[/ctt]

With traditional, lead-based marketing, display advertising looks something like this:

  1. Your B2B marketing team creates and deploys display ads across relevant channels.
  2. If you’re lucky, 0.08% of your audience will click the ad.
  3. Of those who click the ad, approximately 2.35% will convert to leads.
  4. Of those who convert to leads, less than 1% will eventually become customers.

This means that the vast majority of the people you’re targeting with your display strategy will never buy from your company. So why waste valuable advertising dollars on ineffective ads?

This is where account-based marketing comes in.

With ABM, you flip the traditional B2B marketing and sales funnel on its head. Account-based marketing involves identifying accounts that fit your company’s ICP and targeting individuals at those specific accounts on their terms.

After you identify the accounts you want to target, you can expand your reach within those accounts using data tools, allowing your team to reach key decision-makers at those accounts — even if you don’t have their contact information in your database. That way, you can surround these potential buyers with your messaging, and your company will be top-of-mind among the buying committee when they’re ready to start the buying process.

Using these account-based marketing tactics, Terminus customers have seen serious success with social, mobile, video, and display ads. Jim Hopkins from Salesforce Data.com, for example, says, “We saw about 60% of our accounts engaging with the ads that we put out there, which is an amazing result.”

Online display advertising is an important part of the B2B marketing mix — but it requires effective planning in order for it to be successful. With account-based advertising, you can make sure you’re targeting the best-fit accounts that are most likely to become customers, increase the return on your investment (ROI) and helping your sales team close deals faster.

To learn more about the role digital ads play in a holistic account-based marketing program, download the Blueprint to Account-Based Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started with ABM.