LinkedIn may be the king of B2B networking tools but efforts to turn it into an advertising platform have had mixed results. The platform hasn’t been a favourite among advertisers, but things have changed a lot since the big Microsoft takeover in 2016.
A lot of the early issues LinkedIn suffered from have been resolved in recent years and this has been rewarded by a record $2 billion in ad revenue last year. Things are looking up for the B2B specialist and 2019 is the year marketers should rethink their ad budget for LinkedIn advertising.
We’ve been advertising on LinkedIn for our customers since the early days. We can safely say the list of cons has drastically shrunk over the past three years.
The biggest progress has been in
the features LinkedIn has introduced over the past few years – including Lead
Gen Forms, retargeting
Related reading: Learn about our LinkedIn advertising services
LinkedIn’s biggest strength as an advertising platform is its specific user base. Other digital ad networks (Google, Facebook, Twitter etc) are used by people from all walks of life, which means you have to work quite hard to pinpoint your target audiences.
LinkedIn doesn’t have this
First of all, the network’s
entire user base comprises of business professionals. More importantly, its
targeting options allow you to deliver ads to people in specific positions at
their companies – in other words, decision makers who actually have the
authority to sign off purchases.
LinkedIn is the only advertising network that gives you this kind of direct access to high-value B2B leads. While you can target professionals on other platforms with a proven interest in what you’re selling, it’s difficult to guarantee your messages are being seen by key decision makers.
Yes, LinkedIn CPCs are higher on
average than those on Google Ads, Facebook and most of the other major online
ad networks. However, data from
AdStage shows that average CPCs on LinkedIn are dropping sharply, based on
over four million clicks analysed in Q3 2018.
That’s a $2.38 drop in average CPCs since Q3 2017. This is how LinkedIn currently stacks up against Google, Facebook and Twitter:
So LinkedIn CPCs are still higher than its rival platforms, but you also have to consider the value of the clicks you’re getting in return for your money. As long as you’re targeting the right audiences, these leads should be more valuable than your average click on Google or Facebook.
LinkedIn has received its fair share of criticism from advertisers over the years but things have improved a lot since the company was bought out by Microsoft in 2016. A lot of this previous criticism is no longer relevant.
For example, former WordStream
CEO Larry Kim published an article in 2016 entitled 7 Things I Still Hate About LinkedIn Ads
listing the following grievances:
However, as one reader pointed out last year, every item on that list is no longer true, except for the CPCs.
Funnily enough, the 2016 article
says LinkedIn CPCs are increasing, which we’ve also established is no longer
true in 2019.
The point is, LinkedIn has introduced features to address the complaints of advertisers and CPCs are also on their way down. According to a report from Digiday, ad buyers are investing more into LinkedIn too, saying “it’s only getting better.”
This could explain why 42% of
marketers say they’re ready to increase their spend on LinkedIn Advertising in
If LinkedIn wants to continue getting more advertisers on board, it’s either going to need to drive down CPCs even further – or convince advertisers its clicks are worth more than those on other networks.
In terms of ad formats and
features, LinkedIn is doing everything right by addressing concerns preciously
raised by advertisers and the progress made since the Microsoft buyout has been
For us, the main areas we’d like
to see LinkedIn improve from here on in are in the back end. Managing a
LinkedIn account and getting the most out of leads would be much easier if
certain datasets were more accessible.
For example, Lead Gen Forms are
one of LinkedIn’s greatest advertising features but there’s no way to
automatically send lead info to your sales reps, CMS tools or anything. You
have to go to the Lead Gen Form section in your account (which is pretty tucked
away) and then click on a small three-dots icon to download all lead data.
This info can’t be accessed
directly from campaigns and you have to download all lead data together at
InMail messages are another powerful feature but it’s frustrating that you can’t click on the profile of the sender or reply to messages. There are, however, ways to get around this, such as adding a link to a profile, sending as a company or using Forms/Landing Pages.
If LinkedIn can address these data roadblocks and improve access to features and reports in Campaign Manager – while continuing to innovate ad formats – things are looking very good for the network as an advertising platform. More importantly, things are looking good for B2B advertisers who need that direct link to business decision makers.
We have a large in-house team of PPC experts who are highly skilled at managing LinkedIn advertising campaigns. For an informal chat with one of our team, contact us on 02392 830281 or submit your details here and we’ll call you.
Ashleigh is a PPC specialist at Vertical Leap.
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