Why We're Not Sold on LinkedIn Ads Yet

For a B2B campaign trying to directly reach the guys and gals who hang out in the C-suite, LinkedIn seems like the logical option. You can target your creative by job title, geographic location, company size, and industry. It can’t not work, or so we thought.

In October of 2017, we launched a campaign promoting IT management services for our long-time client, JD Young. As we pieced our strategy together we figured this would be the perfect campaign to give LinkedIn ads a try. We had used them a few times in the past, but ultimately found them to be expensive and ineffective. However, LinkedIn had made some changes to their ad platform since then and we found some article with favorable options, so we decided to dip our toes in.

Here’s what happened.

We ran three ads with drastically different creative (two were videos, one was a static image) for one month budgeting $100 per ad. To get a comparison, we also ran the same ads on Facebook. Here are the numbers we got during this month-long trial run with LinkedIn.

Static ad

Impressions- 552
Clicks- 1
CPC- $9.41
CPM- $17.05
Spend- $9.41

Video ad 1

Impressions- 484
Clicks- 1
CPC- $4.73
CPM- $9.77
Spend- $4.73

Video ad 2

Impressions- 978
Clicks- 6
CPC- $5.35
CPM- $32.35
Spend- $32.15

Total Campaign

Impressions- 2,401
Clicks- 9
CPC- $5.67
CPM- $21.24
Spend- $50.99

scroll the never-ending page to kill a few minutes

What We Liked

LinkedIn’s ad platform still has a long way to go before it’s comparable to Facebook’s, but there are certainly some positive things happening. Creating the audience was surprisingly easy, and possibly more intuitive than doing so with Facebook. You can drill down to the audience you want by all the really important B2B factors. There are only seven criteria used to build the audience. This is a refreshing change from all the options Facebook gives you, which can feel cumbersome at times.

What We Didn’t Like

The biggest problem with LinkedIn ads is the way users interact with the platform. Unlike Facebook, users don’t come to LinkedIn to mindlessly scroll the never-ending page to kill a few spare minutes. When users come to LinkedIn, they want to look for a job, post a job, or update their profile with their new job to subtly brag about how successful they are. Thinks about it, how much time have you spent scrolling through your LinkedIn newsfeed?

Since the ads live in the newsfeed, there just aren’t enough eyeballs to spend the budget and get the exposure you need. Keep in mind we budgeted $300 for this campaign and we only spent $50.99. This problem is likely made worse since we were targeting C-level execs of mid-sized companies, who probably forgot their LinkedIn password long ago.

Conclusion

LinkedIn can improve the usability of their platform all they want, but until they can either train their audience to scroll down or find a more creative way to display ads it’s all for naught. If you’re looking post a job, we’d assume LinkedIn ads would yield a heathy return, but the platform can’t compete with Facebook or Google when it comes to getting your message in front of an audience who isn’t looking for your product or service.

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