Like many marketers, I find LinkedIn Advertisements frustrating. The thing is, by making a few needed improvements, both LinkedIn itself & advertisers could greatly benefit.
For LinkedIn, advertising can be bringing in much more than a meager $182 million in revenues, as it did still the second quarter of 2015. Compare that to the advertising revenues of Google ($20 billion) & FB ($6 billion) during the same quarter.
For advertisers, better LinkedIn advertisements would offer some pretty obvious advances. It would give brands & businesses another platform to achieve LinkedIn’s 450 million professionals (though only a quarter of those users are reportedly active each month).
That is what led me to write LinkedIn Ads Review: Eight Things I Hate About LinkedIn Ads about last year.
In May 2015, the nice people at LinkedIn invited me to their headquarters to talk advertisements.
There was no ambush! Actually, it was an awesome capability. I spoke with the brilliant product managers about some huge things that they were thinking about.
So here we’re, 18 months later and my core question stays the same: if advertising is not a priority for LinkedIn, why should advertisers care about LinkedIn?
Have things developed in the last year & a half? Has LinkedIn, which was acquired by Microsoft for $26.1 billion, taken its advertising act together?
Spoiler alert: not yet. LinkedIn’s made some much-needed progress, but has a ton of deficiencies & remains a mediocre advertisement network.
Let’s count down the 7 things I still hate about LinkedIn advertisements.
7. No Video!
Why cannot we upload videos to LinkedIn? It is kind of insane.
Video advertising is one of the most effective ideas to bias people.
Numerous studies have shown that video develops brand recall & affinity, helps with lead generation and increases engagement (e.g., shares, CTR).
6. Still No Remarketing!
Remarketing has been around for more than 6 years. But my concern about LinkedIn Advertisements remains unchanged since last time:
“You can buy remarketing ads on Twitter, FaceBook, on the Google Display Network, at YouTube and even for Google Search – but you cannot get it on LinkedIn.”
Remarketing isn’t there. After LinkedIn showed the retirement of Lead Accelerator, there was some talk that remarketing advertisements were coming “soon”. We heard that LinkedIn would roll some features of Lead Accelerator into the self-service platform.
Well, we are still waiting. You do not get points for “soon.”
5. Still No Custom Lists!
LinkedIn still does not have anything comparable to FB’s Custom Audiences or Twitter’s Tailored Audiences.
Meanwhile, the power of custom customers on other platforms is actually getting stronger. Google has Customer Match. And on FB you can overlay custom customers with specific attributes, interests & demographics.
4. Still No Lead Gen Ad Formats!
I cannot even begin to understand how a network for business professionals does not offer advertisers a way to capture leads. You will have much more success using Lead Generation Ads on FB or doing lead generation on Twitter.
Yet here we’re. Still nothing to see here from LinkedIn Advertisements.
3. Pricing Is Still Bad!
I took LinkedIn to task for failing to try to deliver the best value to advertisers.
Well, it is gotten worse since then for advertisers. Prices’ve gone up substantially. Look at these CPC prices – $9 bids?!
2. Ad Quality Still Does not Matter!
A Quality Score system is missing from LinkedIn Advertisements.
There is no reward for running unicorn ad plans on LinkedIn, though Google, Facebook & Twitter all dramatically reward advertisers for making the effort to make high-quality ads. FB & AdWords show advertisers the relevancy scores in their accounts to enable them to take optimizations.
The absence of a Quality Score on LinkedIn means there is no penalty for having the worst, most boring donkey ad possible.
Some other platforms will not show an advertisement if the engagement is too low. On LinkedIn, you can run terrible advertisements forever – even if it takes 21,000 impressions to generate a single click.
It also means my LinkedIn plan is much different. I make lower funnel, high friction ads. For instance:
This is the kind of like asking to get married on the first date! But if you are going to pay $8 per click, you could as well ask people to take the action you want them to take!
It is a big ask. I would never do this on other display or social ad platforms. Rather, I would do content promotion with the aim of remarketing to people who engage. But, again, there is still no remarketing on LinkedIn.
1. Account Promotion Still Does not Exist!
Organic visibility on LinkedIn is remarkably good compared to FB. Unfortunately there is no “Follower” ad plan type.
“If you use [LinkedIn] advertisements to promote your Company Page, you have to cross your fingers & hope that once they click through to your Page, they select to follow it.”
If you want an advertisement format that will develop the number of people following your page on LinkedIn, look elsewhere. You still will not find this on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Ads: Improvements?
OK, we have beaten up LinkedIn pretty good, but it is only because we love them & want them to improve their advertising product.
LinkedIn has made 2 significant improvements:
- LinkedIn has taken us a much-needed revamp of its campaigns editing interface. They did a great job & this actually has what you would expect a 2016 platform to offer.
- LinkedIn Ads offers conversion tracking. While this addition is indeed good news, the bad news is that basically all you could see is how bad your advertisement performance is.
I am just underwhelmed by their self-service advertisements. Advertising accounts for just 20 % of LinkedIn’s revenues – that means they are missing out on a huge opportunity.
LinkedIn is still essential, not just for individual professionals seeking exposure & new opportunities, but for some companies seeking to maintain a strong organic presence. LinkedIn gets a lot of stuff right and I still think it is an awesome service with many compelling elements. Unluckily, not enough has changed in the self-service platform over the past 17 months when compared to advances in other popular advertisement platforms. Hopefully, LinkedIn will soon know its full advertising potential & learn from Google, FB, and Twitter and give us advertisers a fantastic self-service ads platform.