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LinkedIn Upgrades Ad Retargeting Tools

LinkedIn Adds Engagement Targeting For Video & Lead Ads

Recently during Microsoft's quarterly results, CEO, Satya Nadella, spelt out a grim picture of LinkedIn's fortunes.

While platform usage surged, marketing investment took a major hit.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft Chief Executive, April 2020

"We saw increased demand from work, play and learn-from-home scenarios, benefiting Windows OEM, Surface, Office Consumer and Gaming. This was partially offset by a significant reduction in advertising spend, which impacted our Search and LinkedIn businesses.

We expect the sales dynamics from March to continue, including a significant impact in LinkedIn from the weak job market and increased volatility in new longer lead time deal closures."

There is a myriad of factors complicit in LinkedIn's "significant reduction" of marketing investment. However, the elephant in the room for the platform, despite its vast white-collar user base, is that LinkedIn remains a rather basic marketing channel.

However, LinkedIn's latest product update hopefully goes some way to positively impacting both, with the release of engagement audiences and improvements to its existing retargeting ad campaigns.

New LinkedIn Video & Lead Generation Targeting

Engagement audiences first launched on Facebook in 2016.

LinkedIn finally launched its equivalent five days ago.

The idea behind engagement audiences is that it allows advertisers to target users based upon how they have interacted with the advertiser on the platform. Rather than relying on off-platform signals. As with standard website retargeting.

Video retargeting allows you to create an audience based on LinkedIn members who viewed almost all or part of your ad campaign. You can choose to create the audience based on people who viewed 25%, 50%, 75%, or 97% of your video ad. You can also set how recently those individuals viewed the ad from options between 30 days in the past to 365 days in the past.

Once your video audience has been created, it will need to match at least 300 members to be used in your campaign targeting. Members will be matched to the audience based on the engagement, time frame, and campaigns selected. 

LinkedIn's new Lead Gen retargeting works in a similar way.

Lead Gen Form retargeting allows you to create an audience based on members who opened or submitted your lead gen form(s).

LinkedIn's Notoriously Poor Ad Engagement Rates

Engagement targeting for LinkedIn campaigns is a smart, if not overdue, move.

LinkedIn is a relatively costly performance marketing channel due to its weak ad click-through-rate (CTR).

According to Adstage, an advertising analytics firm, LinkedIn's median CTR was 0.18% in the first quarter of 2020. Down 14% from the final quarter of 2019 and 5% year on year, due to COVID-19.

For comparison, here's how the median ad CTRs broke down for other channels in the last quarter, according to Adstage:

  • Facebook News Feed median = 1.11%
  • Instagram Feed = 0.22% (FYI – down 50% from 2019 Q4)
  • Twitter = 0.86%
  • Pinterest = 0.57%
  • YouTube = 0.65%

When compared to other social channels, LinkedIn is perhaps more reliably deployed for top of the funnel style campaigns. Campaigns geared around branding, or to raise awareness and engage users on the platform.

LinkedIn's new engagement audiences will be a big help here since marketers can now nurture audiences better within LinkedIn. Something which approached correctly could in time improve overall ad CTRs.

Engagement Audiences May Come To Dominate Campaign Targeting

Although Facebook pioneered engagement audiences in 2016, they have yet to be adopted across all major social channels.

In time, there are reasonable grounds to believe social engagement retargeting will become central to all social campaigns.

As opposed to the current trend for website retargeting, given the gradual tightening of privacy legislations, think the EU's GDPR, web browser cookie tracking changes and other factors. A point made clear by Facebook's CFO, David Wenher, at the start of the year.

Facebook CFO David Wenher, February 2020

"We are seeing headwinds in terms of targeting and measurement. But as I noted, the majority of that impact lies in front of us

First, the recent regulatory initiatives like GDPR and now CCPA have impacted, and we expect they'll continue to impact our ability to use such signals.

Secondly, mobile operating systems and browser providers such as Apple and Google have announced product changes and future plans that will limit our ability to use those signals.

And then finally, we've made our own product changes that gives users the ability to limit our use of such data signals to improve ads and other experiences. And there I'd point to something like the rollout of off-Facebook activity controls."

LinkedIn video and lead generation retargeting will be available over the next month within LinkedIn Campaign Manager.

Within LinkedIn, audience creation takes place in the Account Assets section by choosing the Matched Audiences option. It will work with awareness, engagement, and conversion objectives.

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