This post is by Will Bradley, a planner at Maxus for Business.

Whilst the growth in programmatic buying is revolutionising the way B2C clients run campaigns, with benefits including greater efficiency, broader reach, and stronger insights through high volumes of data, the B2B sector is trailing in its wake. We've learnt from speaking to our B2B clients that the major concern with investing in programmatic buying begins and ends with brand safety. Compared to the B2C space, B2B advertisers are generally more cautious in their approach to advertising, and therefore at odds with the automated, far-reaching approach of programmatic buying.

With this in mind, Maxus for Business has compiled 5 top tips for B2B advertisers taking that first step into the future:

1. Educate yourself

Do you know your DSP from your SSP? Programmatic buying is afflicted -as most of media world is - by a reliance on acronyms. This, coupled with the technological aspects of programmatic buying, can be enough to put off many advertisers. Real-world comparisons can be helpful: RTB is often compared to eBay in the way it works, whilst on a top line level, programmatic buying works similarly to the stock market. Your media agency should be your go-to resource for all things media, and programmatic buying is certainly no exception, while the IAB is another valuable resource.

2. Explore the market

There are numerous options for programmatic buying out there, and it is up to your media agency to match you up with the right partner. Some firm questioning of potential partners' featured sites and audience targeting should clearly expose the pretenders and wannabes dressing up a general B2C offering in B2B clothing. Many of the broader B2C networks may profess the ability to target a strong business audience, but in many cases this may just be by virtue of their sheer numbers and many websites featured within their offering. A view on the depth of their targeting by industry sector, job title, company size and so on will quickly narrow down your choice.

3. Test what you do

It may seem daunting to allocate precious campaign budget on a new partner and unfamiliar process. On a simple digital campaign featuring several premium buys, the cost and reach efficiencies of using programmatic buying become clear. Test spends are generally between £5,000-£10,000, and will probably result in as many impressions as delivered by 4-5 premium site buys, as the CPMs come in so much cheaper.

4. Safety first

Ensure that your programmatic buying service is aligned and coupled with a trusted ad safety partner who will ensure your ads do not appear against any undesirable or damaging content. Some programmatic buying services also offer white lists, and allow you to completely block a certain portion of websites that your ad may appear on. If the audience targeting is robust enough, though, your ads will only appear in the places you want and expect them to.

5. Leave your comfort zone

It can be hard to move away from the comfort of premium buys, knowing every site and placement your ad is appearing on. It's time to take a deep breath, put your faith in machines, and let the targeting do its thing. In the world of big data, it may be surprising to know that programmatic buying services generally won't allow you to know every specific website your ad has appeared on. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't ask though. A network should be able to offer strong insights into what sectors you are performing strongly against, and optimise accordingly.

Programmatic will be a feature of all media plans in the future, presenting opportunities for any brand looking to leverage the power of data in their campaigns. Rather than risk getting left behind, it is time for B2B advertisers to embrace programmatic buying and hand over power to the machines. The future is now.