As the world's largest professional network, LinkedIn's membership has grown substantially since I wrote last year about their advertising options. Now, there are 259 million members, a 39 percent increase over last year.
LinkedIn remains a great place to reach business professionals. The online advertising platform has been relatively constant over the past year, with the exception of the release of a new ad format in summer of 2013. The new ad format, called "Sponsored Updates," follows the trend of promoted content or content marketing, even though the ad placements are considered ads and priced on a cost-per-click basis.
When starting a new campaign, as an advertiser, you can choose to create an ad or sponsor an update. Let's look at the formats and what makes them different.
Ad 1: Creating Basic Ads
The original ad unit is one that appears to the side of content and sometimes at the top or bottom of the page. It contains an image and ad copy text.
You have the option to pay-per-click by entering the cost per click (amount you are willing to pay). Paying per click is appropriate for most performance marketing goals where ROI is important.
Paying CPM is the cost per thousand times the ad is shown, regardless of the number of times the ad is clicked. CPM has traditionally been a great cost model for branding efforts, where you are trying to get as much exposure for the dollar as possible.
When setting a bid, the minimum CPC is $2 per click. LinkedIn also provides a "Suggested Range." Keeping your bid at the higher of the range or above will help to keep the ad serving. The actual cost will be determined by the ad auction. Basically, advertisers only pay 1 cent more than the next highest bidder. This means you will probably not pay the maximum bid, but it's a good practice to assume you might.
With a $2 minimum CPC, LinkedIn comes in as one of the higher priced self-serve ad platforms. LinkedIn believes you are getting a higher quality click because you are targeting individuals rather than search queries.
Ad 2: Sponsored Updates
The newer ad format called Sponsored Updates allows company updates (on company pages) to be served in LinkedIn members' feeds. This format is good for generating awareness, building relationships, and driving leads.
Using the same targeting in the previous example of marketers in Illinois, the suggested bid range was almost double the suggested bid range for the basic ads.
With a higher CPC, however, social actions are included. A like, share, comment, or follow is free. Both CPC and CPM pricing are available options.
LinkedIn PPC ads give the option to create a basic PPC ad that can be targeted to individuals based on very specific professional criteria. If your company has a social media presence on LinkedIn, a newer ad option appears in members' news feeds and has the potential to have social interactions associated with it.
For advertisers with professional audiences, LinkedIn offers a strong opportunity to capture sales and leads as part of an overall strategy and integrated with other online media.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
Lisa Raehsler is the founder and principal strategist at Big Click Co., an online advertising company and Google AdWords Certified Partner, specializing in strategy and management of SEM and PPC for search engines, display, retargeting, and social media ad campaigns. Lisa has led strategy on dozens of PPC accounts and puts her experience into practice every day as a thought leader in integrating clients' search campaigns with ecommerce websites, behavioral targeting strategies, and web analytics. She has participated extensively in the local interactive community, as well as at national search engine marketing conferences. Lisa's recent speaking engagements include SES, OMS, MIMA, HeroConf, and SMX conferences, as well as numerous private and public training engagements. As a columnist for ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, she writes on the topic of paid search. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRocksSEM.
March 19, 2014