Behind B2B: Tom Pepper

  • April 12, 2024
  • Reading time: 5 min

For the latest installment of Behind B2B – our series exploring the extraordinary people leading the way in our industry – we spoke with Tom Pepper, Senior Director in EMEA & LATAM at LinkedIn.


As Senior Director of LinkedIn’s Ads business across EMEA & LATAM, Tom’s core remit is helping businesses grow on the platform by working closely with marketing leaders and agencies. He joined the company in 2015 and has been integral to the growth of LinkedIn Ads, which recently surpassed $5 billion in revenue.

With almost 25 years of experience in AdTech and digital advertising, Tom’s been at the helm of the rapid evolution of AdTech. We sat down with Tom to talk about LinkedIn’s role in championing the B2B marketing community, the power of creativity in B2B, and the excellently named LinkedIn house band – LinkedIn Park.

How did you end up working in the world of B2B?

I’ve been working in advertising for the better part of 25 years, primarily focused on digital advertising. I started in the Ad-Tech space, working for startups, and about nine years ago I joined LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network.

It was a great opportunity – I saw immense potential for marketers on the platform, especially in the B2B realm. This marked my full dive into the B2B world.

What did you really want to be when you were growing up – and how did that end up shaping your career today?

If you’d asked teenage Tom, I probably would have said ‘rockstar’. I was a drummer in a band, which definitely distracted me from my studies. But, as it so often goes, that dream became a hobby. I slowly found the excitement of creativity in advertising, particularly in the digital space.

I’m always drawn to purposeful work with great opportunities and great products, and advertising offered just that. My journey has been about growing businesses, working in creative environments – so yes, there’s definitely a tenuous link between my youthful ambitions and the creative, collaborative nature of B2B marketing.

(The good news is, I’m still able to indulge in the musician dream. I’m a founding member of our house band, LinkedIn Park…)

AdTech has seen huge evolutions since you’ve been in the industry. How do you think those changes have impacted performance and creativity in B2B?

Tech evolution has obviously had a big impact on audience targeting, engagement, and measurement over the last two decades. But so much advancement in marketing has been geared towards B2C, creating a gap in addressing the distinct needs of B2B advertising. 

B2B decisions involve longer sales cycles, multiple stakeholders, and a more complex decision-making process, all of which demand different levels of trust, confidence, and measurement. B2B CMOs have a big job on their hands in proving that they’re delivering business growth and hitting targets.

We’re really proud to be helping B2B CMOs build best-in-class B2B brands, drive engagement, and demonstrate those outcomes to C-suite leaders. For example, we’re spearheading B2B-first ad formats, such as Thought Leader Ads that allow companies to sponsor content from an executive, an employee, or any member on the platform, and Document Ads to bolster brand awareness and engagement.

We’re giving marketers the tools to prove the impact of marketing on the bottom line, with B2B measurement solutions such as Revenue Attribution Report and Conversions API.

And we’re helping B2B marketers automate tasks and free up resources for investment in creativity with AI-powered marketing solutions. We recently launched Accelerate, which will be available globally in the coming months – it’s an automated marketing campaign creation experience powered by AI. In as little as five minutes, Accelerate recommends an end-to-end campaign with automatic optimisations to reach the right B2B audience, which marketers can fine-tune before they launch. With less time spent on manual tasks and building campaigns, marketing teams can spend way more time thinking about the craft and storytelling of their work.

LinkedIn is a critical platform for B2B marketers. Has it been a conscious decision to invest so much in supporting this group?

Yes – we’ve made some really deliberate efforts to support and grow the B2B space. Some of the largest companies in the world today are B2B companies – think ServiceNow, NVidia, and Salesforce. And we know there is a huge untapped creative opportunity in B2B: $1 trillion of untapped brand and business value, according to Brand Finance. We want to help B2B companies unlock this value by building memorable brands that drive long-term growth.

Creativity is key to this; LinkedIn’s B2B Creativity research found that 82% of B2B marketing leaders say “creative confidence” – the ability to push the envelope with campaigns – is growing. We’ve seen great momentum in B2B creativity with the launch of the Creative B2B Lions award, a new category that we introduced two years ago in partnership with Cannes Lions.

We also established The B2B Institute to address the lack of comprehensive thought leadership in this area. This think tank, backed by LinkedIn, collaborates with top researchers to advocate for the importance of B2B marketing. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done there – one example that sticks out is our series of papers on How B2B Brands Grow, covering concepts like the 95-5 Rule. Hopefully, that research gives B2B marketers the insight and proof points they need to push forward with strategies like brand building.

Finally, we’ve invested a lot of time and energy into community building, setting up a flagship event series called B2Believe. As our marquee B2B customer event, B2Believe is dedicated to building connections and knowledge sharing to empower B2B marketers. Ultimately, whatever we’re doing, we’re striving to nurture talent, foster creativity, and help marketers drive growth.

Publicis Pro’s brand mission is to help businesses ‘Find Your Extraordinary’. In your experience, what does extraordinary B2B marketing look like?

One standout campaign is “New Paths” by Maersk, the Danish shipping logistics company. They took this fantastically cinematic, brand-focused approach to envisioning the future. What intrigued me about this campaign was the extraordinary creativity; it resembles a movie trailer, with a compelling storyline and touches of humour. It’s a departure from typical product-centric B2B advertising, focusing purely on brand building.

This sort of work also really stands out on LinkedIn. It draws viewers into a cinematic experience that hints at future possibilities. Given the platform’s audience, which seeks professional knowledge and inspiration from their network, this approach resonates really well.

I’d also call out Santander’s first TV campaign, with Succession star Brian Cox. It’s not only a fantastic use of a celebrity endorsement, it’s a strategic and well-executed campaign that is smart, fresh, and topical.

Another good example is EY’s “Better Questions” initiative, which unified their brand experience through thought-provoking content. These campaigns demonstrate the power of creativity and storytelling in B2B marketing and the importance of emotion and humour, offering fresh perspectives and engaging audiences effectively.

What’s on the horizon at LinkedIn in terms of future developments for the B2B community?

LinkedIn’s growth has been remarkable – we hit a billion members last year as we celebrated our 20th anniversary, which was a pretty great way to mark the occasion. We’re continuing to grow our offerings to target B2B audiences with precision – our goal is to help companies deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time, in a safe and trusted platform. Our rich professional data makes it easy for brands to target decision-makers and C-suite executives. In the past fiscal year, the ROI that we’re driving for customers has improved 10% YOY. 

We’re committed to driving the future growth and success of B2B, and we’re excited to work with the team at Publicis Pro as B2B companies look to invest in brand and unlock new creative strategies to cut through.

We’re also really excited that this will be LinkedIn’s third year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. We’ll be returning to the Carlton Cannes venue, where we’ll bring together the brightest voices in B2B, and a very exciting calendar of sessions, panels, and experiences dedicated to the B2B community.

All in all, it’s an extraordinary time to be working at LinkedIn, helping drive the future of B2B marketing forward. The B2B community just keeps getting more interesting – and it’s fantastic to be part of that evolution.

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