LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates Are Now Self-Serve

LinkedIn recently opened up its “Sponsored Updates” advertising option to self-serve advertisers. Previously, this platform enhancement had only been available to advertisers with a dedicated ad rep.

The Sponsored Updates ad option opens up significant additional inventory – and opportunities – to you as a marketer.

While many think of LinkedIn primarily as a recruiting tool, the reality is that both B2B and B2C marketers can use the LinkedIn ad platform’s focused targeting capabilities to effectively reach their audiences. If you are a B2B marketer – particularly one where the lifetime customer value (LTV) of a new customer is high – then LinkedIn advertising is probably worth looking into, especially if you’ve laid the appropriate foundation for success.

Before you pull the trigger on a LinkedIn Sponsored Updates campaign, I recommend you double-check your own readiness. Make sure that you not only have a company page/profile, but that the profile is fully fleshed out. When people see sponsored or non-sponsored company updates, make sure it won’t disappoint them once they check your profile out. Remember, you’re leading them to a company, not a personal profile, and this area should clearly and elegantly represent your firm’s strengths.


Obviously, you’d like your update to get noticed, passed around, and hopefully “go viral.” But not every Sponsored Update will have the same “viral potential,” so it’s good to know in advance how well your update will likely perform. One good way to do this is to post the update to your company profile before promoting it, and evaluate how well it performs organically in comparison to other updates. Insights gained at this stage can be used to decide which of your updates will perform best once you promote it.

If you don’t have the luxury of a large enough following that you’ll know ahead of time which updates are the winners, then consider making several simultaneous updates and running them all in sponsored mode simultaneously till you can pick the winners and pause the other ads.

Company profiles are important. Your company profile is a key touch point between you, your customers, and prospects, as well as potential employees (HR departments love company profile pages because “Jobs” is one of the tabs). Google, for example, has over 1,463,114 followers (as of August 2013) on LinkedIn. Obviously, an update by Google on LinkedIn has the ability to touch a lot of people. Similarly, if your company has a lot of followers you can make updates that can deliver major marketing impact.

Like existing LinkedIn advertising, you’ll be able to target your Sponsored Updates by the full list of demographics provided by LinkedIn, including:

  1. Location
  2. Companies (name, category, or excluded)
  3. Job title
  4. School
  5. Skills
  6. Group
  7. Gender
  8. Age (18-24, 25-34, 35-54, 55+)

Not every one of your updates will appeal to the same sub-segment of your prospect or customer base, so try to match the message in your update with the audience most likely interested in what you have to say. Doing so increases the likelihood that LinkedIn will serve the ad when you are bidding on a CPC basis because LinkedIn won’t run ads that are poorly targeted and users are not responding to.

LinkedIn updates are billable on a CPC or CPM basis, but the key point to remember is that you are sponsoring one of your own updates, and these updates live within your company profile. Updates can include files, so make sure whatever file or image you include meets your marketing objectives. Let’s look at the supported file types:


PDF, PPT, PPS, PPTX, PPSX, POT, POTX (PowerPoint), ODP (OpenOffice)





All file types have a maximum file size of 100MB, which is actually pretty large. Imagine what you could produce within a presentation format that could exist within the highly professional LinkedIn environment and simultaneously include an education, branding, or call-to-action message…perhaps all three.

One thing to note before getting started: if you have the authorization to control and post to your company page and you start a Sponsored Updates campaign, the billing entity will be you. During the setup process, LinkedIn provides you the option of creating a business account, which not only allows for separate ads and billing, but also allows for roles to be assigned to different LinkedIn personal members in relation to that business account.

Related reading