The Breakdown: Microsoft Ads Now Offers LinkedIn Profile Targeting
In case you missed it, Microsoft Ads now allows you to target your search and display campaigns to a user’s company, industry, and job function using LinkedIn profile data. Microsoft acquired LinkedIn back in 2016, so it’s exciting to see that they’re starting to add some cross-functionality between their major platforms.
At first glance, this feature seems like a significant opportunity for a search advertiser. Advertisers will be able to leverage robust and accurate LinkedIn data that was previously unavailable to them, allowing them to target more of the right people. For example, you can now directly target over 80,000 companies.
Additionally, advertisers can target 26 different job functions and adjust their bids for different profiles. This feature could provide more accurate targeting through search and display ads.
LinkedIn boasts some of the most accurate and up-to-date profile data of all social media, so layering your targeting with specific professions, like HR professionals, could lead to higher relevancy and overall ad performance.
How to Apply LinkedIn Targeting in Microsoft Ads
LinkedIn profile targeting can be added to a search or shopping campaign through the “Demographics” tab in Microsoft Ads, at the campaign or ad group level.
Advertisers can search for demographics that they want to target and add those as bid adjustments, which can range from +900% to -90%. However, bid adjustments can’t completely exclude or exclusively target certain demographics.
WebMechanix’s Take & What This Means for You
Microsoft’s integration with LinkedIn gives it a potential competitive advantage over Google’s limited demographic targeting. Also, your ad targeting could be much more accurate for higher stages of the marketing funnel with LinkedIn targeting.
This is difficult in Google Search because reaching top-of-funnel leads often means having to target very broad keywords (unlikely to narrow down the right folks), making it an expensive play for brand awareness.
Obviously, this new integration could provide an edge to B2B advertisers. But even B2C could benefit from this layered targeting by using this data to find the right people for personal purchases.
WebMechanix recently tested this feature for a B2B client with display ads. The team found it easy to set up and noted that it works best for brand awareness (e.g., reach and engagement). The display campaign drove a high CTR of 1.72% to obtain 1,332 clicks for $1,795.25. The best-performing targeted Job Title had a CTR of 2.09%. For reference, other display campaigns average around 1%, suggesting these targeted campaigns are more relevant.
On the downside, the team found the reporting a bit confusing. It wasn’t clear who you reached with your ads. Microsoft could improve their reporting by providing intuitive charts and job title breakdowns in the “Audience” section.
The Current Verdict on LinkedIn and Microsoft Ads
The new LinkedIn targeting functionality is a good opportunity for launching or trying out Microsoft Ads if you haven’t already. While many assume that Google dominates the search market, Bing is still a presence that shouldn’t be ignored. Some B2B and software clients have seen notable results from Microsoft Ads, sometimes yielding a better cost per lead than from Google Ads.
The one drawback is that Microsoft Ads doesn’t let you use LinkedIn targeting as a sole targeting option for search campaigns; rather, you must layer it onto your keyword targeting as an audience bid modification.
This bid adjustment feature is still handy because it allows you to signal to Microsoft Ads that you’re willing to bid more or less for specific job titles, industries, and/or organizations (bid only).
However, you can use this as a targeting option (target and bid) for Display, but it gets dicey when you want to layer this targeting criteria. Taylor Mathauer, Digital Marketing Strategist at WebMechanix, weighed in:
“It currently exists as an ‘OR’ statement rather than an ‘AND’ statement, making it hard to craft that perfect LinkedIn audience with just relying on this targeting. It would likely be best to layer this onto existing targeting, like placement targeting, topic targeting, remarketing audiences, or a list upload.”
Microsoft Ads and its new LinkedIn layering are valuable tools to add to your marketing arsenal. Especially if you’re a B2B company, you could get much better performance with this pairing than what you’re currently seeing on other platforms. So test it out!