Understanding LinkedIn Ads - dummies

By Joel Elad

The first thing you should consider about any advertising system, including LinkedIn Ads, is whether that system can help you reach your target audience. So ask yourself, could you benefit from a network of over 400 million working professionals and business owners around the world? If the answer is yes, keep reading.

One of the powerful aspects of LinkedIn Ads is that you can really target your “target audience.” Given that LinkedIn knows a lot about the members who use its site, it can help deliver your ad to a very specific target audience, depending on your needs.

Perhaps you’re only targeting business owners who live in the Pacific Northwest and have more than 5 years of experience. Maybe you are marketing a financial software package for accountants who work in large companies. Then again, you could be trying to reach all the company presidents or CEO’s of small, medium, and/or large companies. With LinkedIn, you can set one or more filters to target only the most relevant audience for your ad, which should increase the participation and effectiveness of your ad.

When you look at your LinkedIn home page, you can see the two types of ads that LinkedIn promotes to its members:

  • Text (and Image) ads: Just as they sound, LinkedIn Text ads offer you the ability to create a basic ad message, which is typically displayed along the top of the screen or on the right-most column of the LinkedIn home page or your message Inbox, sometimes with a designated image. You can set a specific URL that, when clicked, takes the user to a specific destination or “results” website, either on or off LinkedIn.
  • Sponsored Updates: These updates are included in the news feed of a LinkedIn user, but are clearly labeled as “Sponsored” so the user knows it’s not coming from one of her connections. These Sponsored updates typically contain a link to an article, destination website, or LinkedIn company page, and give the user the ability to interact with your company through Like and Comment links connected to the update.

These ads allow you to drive qualified professionals to your business or LinkedIn landing page, as LinkedIn offers you a variety of targeting options to pick the right audience. You can control your ad budget and choose between two cost models: Pay-Per-Click (PPC), where you pay every time a potential customer clicks the link in your ad, or Cost-Per-Impression (CPM), where you are billed for every 1,000 times your ad is displayed on a potential customer’s screen (that display is also known as an “impression”), regardless of whether the link was clicked.

If your ad budget is more than $25,000 per month, you can have access to your own Account Manager and more advertising options like Sponsored InMail. Visit the LinkedIn Business Solutions page for more information.

There are elements of LinkedIn Ads that will seem very familiar to anyone who’s engaged in some online advertising, especially if you’ve used sites like Google AdWords or Facebook Advertising.

Beyond the targeting filters, LinkedIn Ads also lets you control the bidding amount you’re willing to spend per click or impression; run multiple variations of ads to test for the highest conversion rate; design your ad through its website by picking text, images, and destination URLs; and budget your spending to control daily and total ad expenditures. You get to study the results of your ad campaign to help gauge measurable results, just like with other platforms.