☑ Recommended Solution: Don’t
As a B2B marketing agency, we often get requests to exclude employees and other “internal traffic” from seeing ads online. Sure, we might be able to exclude employees by stringing together a list of IP addresses, or geo-fencing, or by using browser cookies, but none of these methods are going to be one hundred percent effective. They will also require ongoing maintenance, which is not likely to happen.
So why bother? Is this how we want our marketing teams and agencies spending their time? Dedicating hours upon hours engineering ways to exclude employee traffic? What is the worst that could happen if an employee sees an ad? They click on it? They actually show interest in their company and click on an ad to learn more? Would that be such a bad thing?
Consider another form of internal communication, email. There is a small cost associated with sending internal emails, the same as there is a small cost with employees clicking on ads. But they are both channels that can reach coworkers and keep them informed. Are they so different?
A lot of B2B companies have a disconnect between sales and marketing, and often the sales team is not aware of every marketing asset available to them. If they see an ad for a relevant asset that they can pass along to a prospect then I would say that ad converted.
Coworkers can also be helpful in catching issues with ads. Perhaps an asset is no longer relevant or needs to be updated. It can be nice to have lots of eyes on the campaigns.
In a sense, employees are customers. We need to sell them on the mission of the company. We want to keep them up to date on the latest product features and positioning. We want them to take pride in the brand, and be proud when someone asks them where they work. And every employee is also a part of the sales team. We want them to be informed and able to “sell” the company in the elevator, at an industry event, and even hanging out with their peers.
If our coworkers aren’t seeing our ads then whose ads are they seeing? They are probably seeing our competitors’ ads which may lead them to think more about our competitors and see them as superior. And one day they might even wish they too could work for a company that runs successful online campaigns with clever and creative display ads that promote valuable marketing assets.
If we are going to prevent coworkers from seeing online ads, do we also tell them to close their eyes if they see a print ad, or cover their ears if they hear an ad on a podcast? Do we tell them not to attend events that our company is sponsoring because we wouldn’t want them to accidentally get some of our free swag (that costs money you know)? No, of course not.
A good B2B ad campaign will reach our target audience, and drive new qualified leads that can be nurtured into opportunities, but there’s no reason it can’t also have some secondary benefits to our internal teams such as:
- Keeping employees engaged and up to date
- Instilling a sense of pride in the brand
- Demonstrating competitiveness in the market
- Showing off all the hard work the marketing team is doing
- Getting feedback from other departments
As marketers, we love the challenge of solving problems and we pride ourselves on efficiency. So excluding employees, at the surface, sounds like a good proposition. But next time a request like this comes down the chain of command it might be better to push back by encouraging a more holistic view of the issue. And if they insist, tell them you will segment the data instead, so they can review the impact and make a more informed decision. Chances are the amount spent on internal traffic will not be worth the time it takes to make it go extinct.