Today & Beyond

The New Demand Generation

PPC, SEO, Retargeting & Native Advertising

What is Demand Generation?

Commonly mischaracterized as lead generation, demand generation is more like an expansion of this practice. Lead generation’s sole purpose is to produce leads while demand generation’s mission is to create a continuous pathway for leads to travel to ensure they stay the course and close. To do this, demand generation depends on these key strategies:

(Search engine optimization)
Native advertising



These strategies drive inbound and outbound campaigns and work together to hyper-target buyers, create more brand impressions and nurture leads orbiting the new customer journey.

But to truly understand the significance and impact of the new demand generation, it’s worth revisiting the old. Historically, organizations generated awareness about their products or services through marketing channels like TV, radio, direct mail and public relations. They advertised in trade magazines, established a presence at trade shows and, essentially, tried to reach as many people as possible. Marketing was a best-guess practice. In the mid-2000s, the internet sparked the creation of new marketing channels, but strategy was slow to adapt. Email marketing, for example, still focused on reaching as many people as possible. Marketers used massive contact lists to distribute blanket advertisements and, at best, they garnered a tiny percentage of leads.

The internet was the first major push toward a new buyer’s journey. Information was suddenly abundant and free, and buyers quickly began using it to research products and services, as well as share their experiences. To help connect buyers with the best possible information, Google created a search engine that ranked website and page content based on relevance to the keywords and terms buyers used to search. This gave way to search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), which helped marketers earn prime website placement on search engine results pages (SERPs) by creating valuable, relevant content.

At the same time, social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram popped up, providing an opportunity for free social marketing. If an organization was active on these channels, it could connect with its target audiences organically to generate brand awareness.

But when spammers began filling SERPs with irrelevant content and using black-hat SEO to manipulate search engines, the marketplace became over-saturated, and the prospect of organically reaching audiences quickly drowned in the flood. Eventually, Google punished these practices, and brands using SEO correctly were able to bubble back up to the top. But during that time, paid advertising and display ads became the key to rising above the chaos.

The marketing landscape has evolved more in the last five years than it did in the last two decades.

The traditional sales funnel has all but disappeared leaving behind customer journeys that could resemble anything from an hourglass to a pyramid to an upside-down sales funnel. No two customer journeys look the same, and a lot of times, there is no standard path a customer takes to purchase, according to Google. As a result, the focus has shifted from personalization to a multi-touch attribution model.

Consider the following scenario:

Initial recommendation

A person receives a camera recommendation from a friend.


Intrigued, the person searches for reviews of the camera online.


She watches a few review videos on YouTube, but while she’s there, she learns of two other similar cameras manufactured by different brands.

Compare options

She delays her purchase decision and spends the next few days reading reviews and watching more videos, mostly on her mobile phone, to compare all the options.


Once she’s satisfied with her choice, she completes her purchase on her desktop.

The above path shows the customer journey has evolved. Instead of focusing on personalization, savvy marketers use the insights of this new buyer’s journey to anticipate and deliver the right experience and information at the right time.

According to Think with Google, over 60% of consumers expect brands to deliver the right information at the right time, however, less than half of consumers say this is happening. 

Today’s demand generation methods complement the new buyer’s journey by focusing on a multi-touch attribution model instead of relying on last-click attribution.


Multi-Touch Attribution

Multi-touch attribution lets marketers measure the success of different tactics like email marketing, pay-per-click (PPC) or video marketing. Using Google Analytics and Google Ads together, for example, can let you see the full customer lifecycle, how they interact with your marketing and how (and if) they complete the goals you set for them — i.e. making a purchase or consuming content.

Getting the Right Message at the Right Time with Technology

If your brand has the right content at the right time for a consumer on this new journey, then you’ll likely make a positive impression (and make a sale). An integrated system of technology for analytics and ads can let you see the entire customer journey and where you need to make improvements.

How SEO Best Practices Can Help

Like the person searching for feedback on cameras, people depend on search engines to answer questions and learn more about products and services. Implementing SEO best practices can increase relevant traffic to your site, build customer trust and generate more leads without having to pay for advertising.


Here’s how SEO can:

Increase traffic
Increase Relevant Traffic

An effective SEO strategy will send more people to your website who are actively searching for your products and services. By improving the rankings of your core service keywords and earning a first-page position, your brand will be able to connect with potential customers who might not have ever found your company had you not engaged SEO best practices.

Build trust
Build Consumer Trust

Improved organic rankings will build trust and credibility for a brand by being positioned as a trusted resource of Google. When your website or brand ranks on the first page for a keyword query, Google is telling users your site is relevant and applicable to what they’re looking for. This recommendation of sorts from Google or a search engine is a critical step in your buyer cycle.

Generate leads
Generate Leads Without Advertising

Investing in a quantifiable, long-term SEO strategy can position your brand to generate quality leads without having to advertise. These organic leads that result from improved keyword rankings will ultimately become key indicators to the success of your SEO campaign and can be measured through tools like Google Analytics, HubSpot and others.

The Emergence of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Ad exchanges created a place where marketers and publishers (usually website owners) could buy and sell ad space on SERPs or webpages. But in the early days of paid advertising, marketers had little control over who saw their ads or how many times. They were also charged on a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) structure, which made determining ROI a mind-numbing task.

To address these issues, PPC advertising emerged, allowing marketers to better target buyers by bidding on keywords that, when searched, would trigger a relevant ad. Instead of paying per thousand impressions, marketers pay per ad click. Display advertising also entered the scene, allowing marketers to target audiences even further by pushing banners or ads on websites relevant to their brand’s industry. By this time, marketers were far more concerned with buyer personas, and brands employed marketing channel specialists to run segmented campaigns that better targeted specific buyer segments. This led to a demand for more advanced marketing platforms that managed and tracked all channels including blogs, websites, email marketing, social media marketing and, to an extent, ad buying.

Programmatic is Dead. Long Live Native Advertising & Account-Based Marketing.

A few years ago, marketers would have said programmatic marketing would be here to stay because it allowed marketers to use customer behavioral data to buy, place and optimize ad campaigns in real-time. But now native advertising and account-based marketing (ABM) are taking its place.

Native advertising is simply paid content (advertising) that matches the look and feel of the publication where it’s placed. What sets native ads apart is that they don’t look like obvious ads. Your prospects and customers likely spend a lot of time online, and as a result, can become immune to display ads. Native ads can be a great way to reach them because, as you can imagine, ads that look like site content perform much better than those that are clearly labeled as advertisements.

According to the Native Advertising Institute, native advertising is more effective later in the buying cycle because people are aware of your brand and have possibly consumed some of its content.

Native Advertising Formats

There are three main native advertising formats:

In feed

Ads are placed within an article or content feed and mimic the site aesthetics. In-content ads are placed within an article, usually between paragraphs or at the bottom of the piece.

Content recommendation
Content Recommendation

Ads placed alongside editorial content, ads or paid content. These ads usually appear below or to the side of editorial content.

Branded content
Branded/Native Content

Paid content from a brand published in the same format as full editorial. This type of ad is usually developed by the publisher on behalf of the brand, using the publisher’s own content team.

4 Considerations for In-Feed & Content Recommendation Native Ads

In-feed and content recommendation native ads are typically seen before a prospect is shown branded/native content. Consider these four things to get the most out of your ad buy:

  • Design

    How well will the ad fit in with the overall page design? Does it look and feel like it naturally belongs there?

  • Location

    Will the ad be inside or outside the publisher’s content feed?

  • Ad Behavior

    Does the ad unit match the behavior of the surrounding content? Is it linked to an onsite story page or is a new behavior introduced that takes the person off-site?

  • Disclosure

    How do you disclose that this is an ad and not part of the editorial content? Is your disclosure clear and prominent?

Native Ads on Twitter and Facebook

Twitter and Facebook also host native ads, which appear as promoted posts within a user’s feed or timeline. According to StackAdapt, native in-feed ads on these social platforms increase user engagement primarily because they don’t disrupt the user experience.

The New York Times
Connecting with Prospects through ABM

ABM involves running personalized campaigns that target specific companies or individuals in the B2B space. Using buyer intent data, which captures online research from real buyer journeys and determines purchase intent, you can create a list of prospects and begin targeting them with personalized ads placed within the platform’s network. Buyer intent data is used to improve account-based marketing and targeted advertising, content marketing programs and more. Contacts are imported and matched at an account level. There is the ability to refine your targeting by selecting the department and/or level in the organization.

Lookalike Audience

Facebook Lookalike Audiences can extend your targeting efforts by going beyond the demographic and interest functionality. A lookalike audience is created from data points of your source audience. This gives you better quality audiences because you’re able to control the source audience. If your business tracks customer lifetime value, there is the ability to create a value-based lookalike audience that matches your most profitable customers. The factors that determine customer lifetime value include how often a customer makes a purchase, how much a customer spends and the potential length of the relationship.

Get Smart with Retargeting

Much like consumers have become immune to seeing display ads when they’re browsing online, the same can be said for retargeting. To make an impact with today’s consumers, you need to retarget by behavior and interest. This includes things like:

  • Time between site visits (if a visitor hasn’t visited your site in a while)
  • Specific information you’ve collected like shoe color or size or dog breed
  • Product purchase history

Facebook Targeting

As mentioned above, Facebook Lookalike Audiences can be used to enhance your targeting efforts on the platform. In addition to lookalike audiences, here are some other targeting options for Facebook.

Consider Frequency Capping

The number of times someone sees an ad can negatively impact campaign performance because you’re wasting ad dollars overserving your ads. Frequency capping helps you save money and better target because it limits the number of times a person sees your ad over a given time period.

Pixel-Based Retargeting

Pixel-based retargeting uses cookies to notify retargeting platforms to serve specific ads to people who have visited certain pages on your site but have left to browse elsewhere. The retargeting is timely and customizable based on page views and can begin the minute someone leaves your site.

Go a step further and apply smart retargeting strategies to ensure your ads are relevant to your audience. Implement frequency capping so the same users are not seeing your ad within a set period of time. Segment your lists based on actions to deliver more personalized ads. Utilize exclusion lists to prevent users who have already converted from seeing your ads.

Case Studies
Horizon Case Study

How We Did It: A Use Case

When one of our clients, a childcare company, wanted to create a Facebook ad that was more engaging than a static ad, they turned to Kuno. We created a short video to advertise free half-day preschool and targeted audiences who had kids within the geographic locations where the program was offered. The video was the company's most engaged with preschool ad, generating:


How We Did It: B2B Paid Social

Kuno has been working with a medical equipment manufacturer that provides technology solutions for clinicians, researchers and specialty solution developers seeking qualitative data to improve their outcomes and results. The specific marketing focus has been their line of solutions for the surgical suite. We recommended running paid social ads on Facebook targeting their buyer personas. As a result, the client has been able to reach potential customers and generate new contacts in their database. Here are the results of the Facebook campaigns from February:

Total campaign
per conversion

The Bottom Line

How do you make demand generation work for your brand, especially when everything is changing so quickly?

Start with your persona development. Everything stems from the knowledge gained from understanding and segmenting your buyers. Only once you can grasp your buyers’ intentions, goals and challenges can you truly perceive their intended buyer journey and, thus, create your marketing lifecycle.

Brands need to commit both time and resources to create a robust demand generation strategy. But the good news is you don’t have to do everything at once. You can dip your toe in, perhaps with retargeting, then continue to add on new tactics. Keep in mind as your strategy grows, you must keep your buyers top of mind — and work toward a consistent message across all your marketing channels and across your organization. By not only meeting but exceeding your buyers’ expectations, you ensure you are building quality, long-term buyer/brand relationships that will continue to thrive with time.

Are you ready to put the new demand generation to work for you?

See how Kuno’s team of demand generation experts can help. Take a look at the services we offer and learn what sets us apart.

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