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Audience Targeting Strategies for LinkedIn Ads

kerschbaum-joe
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In March, LinkedIn announced that it had surpassed the 100 million user benchmark – and according to their ad tool, they have surpassed the 120 million mark. In fact, they are adding one new member per second. Smart marketers shouldn’t disregard a concentrated audience of this size. Today we’ll review targeting opportunities for the LinkedIn Ads program.

LinkedIn Audience Information

It’s common knowledge that LinkedIn draws a professionally orientated crowd. However, what else can we learn about the audience on LinkedIn? I conducted some research within the LinkedIn Ad tool and these were my findings:

audience-profile-linkedin

The current geographic location of LinkedIn members looks like this:

linkedin-members-geographic-location

According to an excellent presentation by Amodiovalerio Verde, the industries with the most active LinkedIn members include high tech, finance, manufacturing, and medical:

linkedin-most-active-industries

This gives us a better understanding of who uses LinkedIn. It’s pretty evenly split between genders with a slight leaning toward males; 60 percent of users are between 24 and 54; most users are located in the U.S. or Europe; and there is a wide range of industries represented.

LinkedIn Targeting Strategies

The current targeting options within LinkedIn are robust and well-suited to the audience on LinkedIn: they focus on professional affiliations, rather than personal attributes/interests/likes such as Facebook. First, let’s cover where your ad may appear on LinkedIn:

  • Profile Page: When members view the profile of other LinkedIn members. 
  • Home Page: The page members see when they sign in to LinkedIn. 
  • Inbox: The page where members see messages and invitations to connect. 
  • Search Results Page: The page that results when you search for a member by name. 
  • Groups: When members view pages in their group.

Unlike Facebook, where you determine the targeting at the ad level, within LinkedIn, your audience targeting is established at the campaign level. These are your targeting options:

  • Job Title: “Patent Attorney” or “Sr. Laboratory Technician” or "Registered Nurse" 
  • Job Function: “Sales” or “Engineering” or "Marketing" functions
  • Industry: “Banking” or “Biotechology” industries
  • Geography: “United States” or “Netherlands” or “Toronto”
  • Company Size: "1-10" or “500-1000" people 
  • Company Name: "GE" or "Hewlett-Packard" or "FedEx"
  • Seniority: “Vice President” or “Owners”
  • Age: “18-24” or “35-54” 
  • Gender: "Female" or "Male" 
  • LinkedIn Group: "Business Intelligence Group" or "Corporate Real Estate"

You can (and should) blend these options in order to create tightly focused campaigns and zero-in on your target audience. Take note that LinkedIn targeting operates under the inclusion method, which means that each layer of specificity you add to your campaign will cause your audience to get smaller (and more focused). Here's a quick example of how your audience size decreases with each desired attribute:

linkedin-attributes-decrease-audience-size

To get started, break out your campaigns into a few large buckets and then get more specific. For example, let’s say you are advertising software that is geared toward marketing professionals. The initial campaign structure can look something like this:

  1. Company category (marketing): Individuals who work for companies in North America who are in the industries of Marketing and Advertising, Market Research, Publications and Communications, and who are between the ages of 25 and 54. Your estimated target audience is 454,644 members.
  2. Specific individuals (marketing): LinkedIn members in North America between the ages of 25 and 54 who have listed their job function as Marketing. Your estimated target audience is 561,693 members. 
  3. Specific individuals (decision markers): LinkedIn members in North America between the ages of 35 and 55+ who have listed their job function as Marketing, and their seniority is Director, Vice President or Owner. Your estimated target audience is 161,966 members. 
  4. Groups about marketing: LinkedIn Members in North America who have joined groups that pertain to marketing. Here is a snapshot of the possible groups you could target (see below). Your estimated target audience for these groups is 83,554.

linkedin-groups-about-marketing

These examples should serve just as some inspiration on how your campaigns can be set up. We haven’t even touched on targeting individuals at specific companies (suggested reading: Marty Weintraub’s post, “Radical LinkedIn B2B #PPC: Targeting Competitor's Employees”). Within the example above, you could create a campaign that targets all of the companies that are currently members of the American Marketing Association (AMA).

Within each campaign, you can also target the LinkedIn Audience Network (it’s optional). The Audience Network is a collection of partner websites that display LinkedIn Ads on their pages. Partner websites may include website publishers in the Google Doubleclick Ad Exchange. According to LinkedIn Ad help center, this is how it works:

“Suppose that you are targeting LinkedIn members who are CEOs. If you choose to run your ads on the LinkedIn Audience Network, your ads will be displayed to those CEOs when they visit LinkedIn and when they visit other websites in the LinkedIn Audience Network.”

The reporting in the LinkedIn Ad interface is weak at best. But they don’t provide any visibility into how your ads perform within their network or the audience network. However, the Audience Network does increase click volume.

In my next article, we’ll review ad text strategies for LinkedIn that help you generate a great results from you LinkedIn campaign. See you next time!


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