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5 B2B ad trends for 2022

We’re just over halfway through the year, and we’ve been noticing some common trends in B2B ads in 2022. Guy and Hope sat down to discuss four trends that you can jump on for 2022, and one that’s played out.

Top 5 B2B ad trends for 2022

  1. “Not boring” B2B advertising is the new normal.
  2. B2B brands are starting to use more celebrities in their ads.
  3. The word of the year for B2B ads in 2022 is “brand.”
  4. The one-size-fits-all B2B video is dead. RIP.
  5. Using history to explain web3 and Industry 4.0 products is played out.

To learn more about each trend, listen to the episode or read the transcript. The “2030 B2B Trends: Contrarian Ideas For The Next Decade” report from the B2B Institute is available here.


Hope Morley: It's kinda like those little, the fish that first spouted legs and are like walking on land and they're like still kind of gross and awkward, but you give it a couple generations and we're gonna be dinosaurs. Wait, that's a bad thing. We're gonna be humans. Cheetahs?

Some sort of cool animal.

Hope Morley: Hello and welcome to Death to the Corporate Video, a podcast with tools and advice for how to make B2B video ads your prospects actually want to watch. I'm Hope Morley.

Guy Bauer: I'm Guy Bauer.

Hope Morley: We are recording this show. It is mid-July. So we're just over halfway through the year and Guy and I were talking and we've identified some trends that we've been seeing in B2B video ads throughout the beginning of 2022. So we wanted to share some of these ads or share some of these trends.

Talk a little bit about them. Talk about some things that we hope that people aren't continuing to do throughout the year. Talk about some things that we're seeing which might give you some ideas for ads that you might wanna make, good trends, bad trends, a whole load of trends. A whole load is five in technical terms.

Guy Bauer: That's all we could come up with.

Hope Morley: So our top five B2B marketing trends for 2022. So number one, the top trend that we are seeing this year, we're seeing this at conferences that we've been to everyone who's talking about B2B right now: not boring B2B is officially mainstream and we think this is a good thing. But we've seen that there's no going back.

This is the way of the future for any B2B marketers in B2B advertising.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, I think people have it right. If on the bell curve we're right in the middle consensus, people are agreeing yes. Mass adoption that B2B has a boring problem and companies are gonna fix. It's consensus that B2B stuff should not be boring. As our friend Paul Cash says, it's not speeds and feeds anymore, which I had to look up, actually, I didn't know what that meant. 

Hope Morley: What does it mean for people listening?

Guy Bauer: It has to do with like machinery. So like the speed of the machinery and the kinds of feeds, it can take like the inputs. 

Hope Morley: It's a way of saying like features and benefits, but just for manufacturing.

Guy Bauer: Correct. Exactly. So yeah, it's less about speeds and feeds. People are now saying yes, we need to make stuff that has the root that is entertainment, which we've been saying for a few years now, we were the early adopters.

We didn't adopt it. This was all because of us. Right, Hope?

Hope Morley: Yeah, we started it

Guy Bauer: This podcast. 

Hope Morley: Yeah, you can trace it back.

Guy Bauer: I was listening to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia podcast and they were, they were trying to take credit for Rick rolling. 

Hope Morley: Did they do that early on?

Guy Bauer: Well, I think they had a Rick Astley song. They had a Rick Astley song in one of their episodes, but it wasn't used in Rick rolling.

I think it was a joke, you know, but anyway, consensus is now you should not be making boring B2B marketing. B2B needs to be interesting.

Hope Morley: And I think part of the official acknowledgement that B2B is not boring and that it needs to be great is that now B2B is part of Cannes. So it's this like industry acknowledgement as well of that there's, we're setting the expectation and the bar is being set for. We're going to be competing with the big boys in the B2C world, to some extent, it’s its own category, but you know, Cannes is for advertising in general.

Now there's a B2B category. If you really wanna get noticed, you gotta be good.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. Yeah. And I think B2B is not yet cool. It is still boring, but I think everyone has agreed that their marketing should not be boring. It should be cool.

Hope Morley: Yeah, it's kinda like those little, the fish that first spouted legs and are like walking on land and they're like still kind of gross and awkward, but you give it a couple generations and we're gonna be dinosaurs. Wait, that's a bad thing. We're gonna be humans. Cheetahs?

Guy Bauer: Primordial ooze.

Hope Morley: Some sort of cool animal.

Guy Bauer: Yeah.

Hope Morley: All right. Trend number two. Trend number two is that we are seeing more B2B brands using celebrity in their advertising. Celebrities have been a huge part of advertising since, I mean, I'm no advertising expert, but this goes way back in terms of spokespeople and celebrity use. But this year we're seeing a lot of B2B brands starting to use it, off the top of my head.

HubSpot used Katherine Hahn in their pirate campaign, Will Arnett was in a campaign for commerce tools, which is another SaaS product. I mean, Zendaya did Squarespace, which is kind of a B2B B2C crossover in their Super Bowl ad. I'm sure there's other examples that I can't think of off the top of my head.

Guy Bauer: Clive Owen and SAP.

Hope Morley: mm-hmm

Guy Bauer: I think that was like one of the first real heavy B2B brands using a celeb.

Hope Morley: Or what's his face in the Wolf ads? 

Guy Bauer: Yeah. Christian Slater.

Hope Morley: Slater? I think. So I was gonna say Christian bale and I knew that was wrong. Christian Slater. So it goes, there's roots back a couple years, but this year we're really seeing a lot more of that.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. And, and, you know, when you think about, if you're using a celebrity. The message itself has to be simpler, right? A celebrity is not gonna go up there and read a script like today in today's environment, cyber security and organizations featuring cross-functional platforms need to engage in a… you know what I mean? Like they're not going to say that, the celebrity has to be, it has to be simplified for them in order to be, you know, I'm sure, I guess they would say anything for a price, but you know, it, there's a function of like, if you're gonna use a celebrity, the message has to be simple.

And so that's cool. That's a prerequisite that if you look at any of these celebrity ads Will Arnett. If you go back to Clive Owen and SAP is one of my favorite spots. So simple, so clever. And, and he does it so perfectly. You know, if the copy has to beget that celebrity, so by default, it has to be simple.

And so that's a real acknowledgement of B2B just getting simplified. Instead of these long, you know, basic video white papers or boring explainers,

Hope Morley: And if you're using a celebrity like Will Arnett or Katherine Hahn, these like great comedy actors. It's also, it's not just that they need good copy, but you have to write them a character, right? Like Will Arnett. I mean, he's always kind of himself, but like you're, but you're still writing a character. Right?

You have to write a story to be using him successfully so that it also pushes you to like, get some levity in there, get a story, write a character. It's all these things that we've been seeing in B2C advertising for years and years now. But. It forces you to kind of think that way and think story, think character

Guy Bauer: Yep. Yep. Yeah. I like it. I'm a fan.

Hope Morley: mm-hmm

Guy Bauer: The Katherine Hahn stuff is pretty golden. She's so good.

Hope Morley: I would watch her tell me about today's economy and cyber security. If she just wanted to read that to me, I would just sit and be like, oh, you're so lovely.

Guy Bauer: She could probably actually make that funny, just reading a boring dry corporate video, but Katherine Hahn, actually, that would be kind of interesting.

Hope Morley: Katherine Hahn, if you're listening, give us a call. We've got an idea.

Guy Bauer: Alright. I like it. So number one is consensus is B2B should not be boring. Two celebrities. That's another trend we're seeing. What's our third trend, Hope.

Hope Morley: Our third trend is a focus on brand building in B2B. So this is an acknowledgement that brand and brand building needs to be an important part of your marketing mix. I think that the past five, 10 years. There's been a lot of focus on the ABM and the demand gen side of B2B. And that's still important. Like you can't just do brand building.

But there was kind of an over indexing of ABM and demand gen. And now there's an acknowledgement that we need to go beyond that and do the brand building work. This is, you know, related to the less boring. It's all about balancing your portfolio of marketing activities that you need to have this balance of ABM demand, lead gen brand. It all works together holistically.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, the B2B Institute folks did a whole report. I thought it was great. It's called, B2B trends for 2030. I think it's called something like that. If you go to just Google B2B contrarian trends. Yeah.

If you go to the B2B Institute, we'll link to it. But what they say is, yeah, is activation has been the theme for the past decade. Lead gen ABM, demand, gen all that stuff, hyper focusing, all that kind of jazz. And, the branding has been ignored. So their whole thing is, is you have to do 50, 50, 50% branding, 50% activation. 

It's just, I think a renewed focus and it could be a new focus, you know, that yes, your B2B brand needs to actually have a voice and a brand. And, and yeah, that's not gonna lead to sales in the next six months. It may not even lead to sales in the next year. It's all about long term success and like, you know, memorability, outside of people who are just in market.

So yeah, that's the trend we're seeing is a renewed robustness around brand.

Hope Morley: Yeah, it's a lot of what people are talking about and, you know, it makes me a little bit nervous whenever you see this excitement like this, that, you know, you don't want people to now over index on brand and ignore the activation piece suddenly decide in three years, that brand doesn't doesn't work, quote unquote, because they weren't using it as part of a broader strategy. And then it's all gonna swing back, you know, it's for individual companies and individual marketers. It's, it's finding that balance that works for your company of making sure that you're doing a little bit of both or everything.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, the B2B Institute people, I'm pretty sure they it's somewhere around 50 50, or maybe 55% brand 45% activation. But I think that's close enough to just, you know, 50% of your activities, your budget should be brand 50% of your budget and activities should be activation. If you have that kind of balance you're in good shape because the brand will build the brand is all about future. It's all about the 95% of the audience who are not in market. They're out of market, but maybe in market one day. And if you can speak to those outta market people now two years from now, when you do run your activation campaign, that audience will not be completely cold.

They'll remember that you've, you've built equity with them over the past two years. They're more likely to convert and your activation campaigns become more efficient, more valuable, more effective if you've done all that pre-work branding. So it's this idea of having that balanced approach, branding activation, it kind of just builds value and, you know, it's like that flywheel thing, the flywheel spins.

Hope Morley: mm-hmm

Guy Bauer: You drive future value through growth initiatives. Uncovering value through driving results, unlocking. Yeah. Yeah. Unlocking value through driving results. 

Results. What are they? Where can I get 'em?

Hope Morley: And why are they locked up?

Guy Bauer: Yeah!

Hope Morley: Who's locking up all this value?

Guy Bauer: I wanna know.

Hope Morley: If it's unlocked, it means someone made like a decision to lock it. 

Guy Bauer: Lock the value who did that and fire them, just fire those people who are 

Hope Morley: Who locked up the value.

Guy Bauer: That's right. You know, what's funny is see, this is this problem with America.

We don't treat the underlying cause we just treat the symptoms. Here's the key to marketing, fire the people who are locking the value. Boom problem solved, we're out of business today. You don't need us anymore.

Hope Morley: You're welcome listeners.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, just I'm sure. Just like two people. Okay. I'm locking... Okay. All right. What else can we do to drive listeners away from this show? Hope, our plan is almost complete.

Hope Morley: Yes. Well, let's just talk about trend number four and see if we can keep 'em for a little bit. Trend number four that we're seeing is the end of the one size fits all video. In B2B, over the past decade, we've seen video as a tactic, many, many companies would make one video. So they would do an animated explainer, or they would do a corporate about us mini documentary and that was all they would do around video or video ads. What we're seeing is a moving away from that and an acknowledgement that you need to have a robust strategy behind your video in your video ad. Yes. Like a fine red wine, you need to have a complete funnel of video and ad content. So this is connected to the brand work that you need to have higher level brand based video content. And then going down your funnel, or your buyer's journey, whatever type of metaphor that you like to use, you can get, you still can use those animated explainers. You can still have those product demos, but it's really about having a full balance and thinking about your full buyer's journey and then also your, your user journey.

Once they're a customer of how you can support them with video.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. I mean, and this is just a function of the medium of video fully maturing and, you know, people figuring out how to do it. So this is video specific, I guess the title of this podcast is ads, but, but I think what it was is like over the past, you know, 10 years ago, having a video was unique. And so why would you make 10? To fill your funnel with, it was like, it was almost like experimentation, like, well, let's roll the dice. Let's get one of these videos on our site.

Hope Morley: One of those, let's get one of those videos.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. And, and people, rightly so, make one and they would try to make it say as much as possible because why would you over invest in this? Well, I think the power of video it, you know, has proved itself. There's also a million vendors. The market is mature, so the, the, the one size fits all corporate explainer is dead. So that's the trend we're seeing and we're seeing companies do that. They're, they're starting to split up and divide and make a journey with their video content.

Hope Morley: And that's when you're talking about video ads specifically. Those explainers corporate about us things that were really popular a decade ago, five years ago, those don't work well as ads. And I think that that's what some people saw. And I still see some companies running those ads as ads, and they're just not going to be super effective in general.

So it's actually making ads and you can still have those explainers, like they still have a purpose, especially if you've got a software product or something that needs people wanna see the functionality or people wanna see how it works. There's still a role for those. But in terms of that top of funnel, ad awareness, ad generating piece, you really want something that's more of a traditional ad and maybe you use a celebrity.

Guy Bauer: mm-hmm and you don't make it boring. And you focus on your brand rather than selling — they all tie together. Mm-hmm all right. Bring us home. What's the fifth trend?

Hope Morley: The fifth trend and this is specifically something that we're seeing as, kind of a creative concept that's repeating itself over and over and over again in a lot of B2B ads is this trend of using history and historical references to try to sell products that are in new. They're mostly used for like web 3.0 or like industry 4.0 products. So that's like NFTs and crypto. And blockchain and AI, these kind of products that are hard to explain and are part of what the people who are making them see it as like a revolution in how we're gonna work and how we're gonna interact with computers.

And it's really hard to sell that to people. So they're trying to use this metaphor of getting left behind. Listeners might remember the Larry David crypto commercial from the super bowl, as an example of this. We have, what are some of the other ones Guy? So there was the, you were mentioning the Jason Bateman electric car one, that's a B2C one.

Guy Bauer: There's a company called Evonik. Who's using history to position the product. You saw Matt Damon with the crypto.com, WealthSimple used cave people.

Hope Morley: Clickup, has a cave people one.

Guy Bauer: We're guilty of this, our NVIDIA spot uses cave people.

Hope Morley: We do have one. 

Guy Bauer: Yeah, the whole idea is that instead of selling, trying to explain what the thing is, because it's quite difficult to explain you are showing these major advances, cave people see inventing fire, inventing the wheel, discovering electricity, the car, the first computer, and then insert your product here.

And you're what you're trying to say is like, you don't wanna miss out on this. Don't be like one of those people that, that thought that poo-pooed the car or whatever. And that was the Larry David, I mean, all of these ads, all of these ads are the same exact play. And there's even a Roku ad. It goes on and on and on.

I mean, it's all over the place. So I would say officially, this is one of the trends. I would say the first four trends you can hop on. They're good. This trend I would say has run its course. Personally, I'm not gonna be recommending creative that uses the, the whole looking back in history device anymore.

Yeah, I think now, like it's pretty much consensus and it's gonna be hard to differentiate your brand. This is how it happens is like, like something is actually good. It's a good device

and then it gets overdone. 

Hope Morley: It's a good device. Yeah. The problem you're gonna run into if you use it, is that people won't remember who you were, because you're like, oh, who was the one who used the cavemen? Like we were just able to name three brands that use cavemen recently in their ads. So if you wanna be memorable and the whole point of doing these ads is that you want people to remember your brand.

If you're doing the same thing that everyone else is doing, no one's gonna be able to remember which brand did what.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, I would say also, especially with an online audience and a younger audience, the crypto.com, Matt Damon ad, fortune favors the brave is now a joke because of crypto collapsing.

Hope Morley: South park just made fun of it. So that's like, you know, you're officially, officially dead.

Guy Bauer: And that, that whole device was him walking through historical things, you know, Sir Edmund Hillary and you know, it was –

Hope Morley: There was the Wright brothers. 

Guy Bauer: Right. Yeah. And so I that's, for another reason I would say is steer clear, it's been done. It's been done very well. I would actually say out of all of them, well, probably the Larry David one is the best.

Hope Morley: I, I do love the Larry David.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. The Jason Bateman one's great. I mean, they're all like, I, I like the NVIDIA one that we did. But yeah, it's done. Move on, move along. These are not the concepts you're looking for.

Hope Morley: if you need help coming up with better concepts for your B2B ads Guy, do you know somebody who's good?

Guy Bauer: Well, this being a totally altruistic show with no ulterior motive. I can say Umault.com does actually make creative concepts for B2B video as they specialize in creative that drives results and unlocks value from those pesky people trying to lock up the value on you. So,

Hope Morley: That's what we really do. We go into your company, we find who locked up the value.

Guy Bauer: Slap 'em on the wrist. 

Hope Morley: We go, what do you do here?

Guy Bauer: Slap 'em around a little bit.

Hope Morley: We don't condone violence.

Guy Bauer: No, we don't.

Hope Morley: But we do condone finding the people who lock up value in your company and get  rid of them.

Guy Bauer: But yeah, Umault, we do that. That's what we do. Um, Hope where could people like find out about us and are you happy that people watch or listen to this show?

Hope Morley: I am. I would like to thank you for listening to this show today. if you have any thoughts on what we've said in the show today, or there's any other B2B trends that you’ve seen in your advertising this year. We'd love to hear them. You can find us at our website at Umault.com. That's U M a U lt.com.

Or you can find us across all the social media channels at Umault.

Guy Bauer: Oh, also, I think a few episodes back, we were gonna send you a tote bag. If you called our number, we have yet to get a phone call. So the phone lines, maybe, maybe people didn't hear that the phone lines were open, but they're open. And the number is 3 1 2 2 6 5 0 9 3 2. All you have to do is call that number and do, what do you have to say?

Hope Morley: Ask for Hope or Guy and tell us that you are a loyal listener of death to the corporate video, and we will send you an Umault tote bag.

Guy Bauer: Okay. It's the first person.

Hope Morley: The first person.

Guy Bauer: First caller. And, uh, the phrase that pays is hi, I'm a listener. Okay.

Hope Morley: You don't even have to be a big fan. You don't have to say you're a big fan. You can just say that you're a listener. We'll send you a toe bag.

Guy Bauer: Listen, you know, New Jersey just outlawed plastic bags. So if you're in the state of New Jersey, this is helpful for you. 

Hope Morley: We're just trying to help you with your groceries.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. So there you go. Thanks for listening everybody. I hope you have a great week.

Hope Morley: Bye.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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