LinkedIn Advertising – Direct or GDN?

Bryce Hamlin
By Bryce Hamlin

If you’re involved with any sort of B2B or professional-facing business, you need to look into advertising on LinkedIn. As you may imagine, the nature of LinkedIn allows advertisers to get their product or service in front of highly-targeted groups of professionals – and hopefully decision-makers.

There are a number of different ad formats, tactics, and most importantly targeting criteria to be explored in the LinkedIn advertising engine. That being said, we’ve written a few blog posts on LinkedIn Advertising features and best practices, check them out here.

I’m going to take the less-beaten path.

Even if you’re familiar with the LinkedIn advertising engine, you may not know this fun fact: you can actually advertise on LinkedIn via the Google Display Network!

The LinkedIn site (linkedin.com) is available as a managed placement option in your targeting settings – though you’ll need to get in touch with your Google Ads rep as LinkedIn is a premium B2B placement.

Another option would be to buy placements through DoubleClick Bid Manager – but this is only for the biggest fish in the pond.

LinkedIn made the move toward exclusivity when it comes to which ads are shown on the site due to the high audience quality that’s all-but-guaranteed on LinkedIn. They’ve started working directly with advertisers, selling programmatic placements directly through their side – though you need to commit to spending $15-20k a month.

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To sum up: Display advertising on LinkedIn is only a good fit if you have a large budget. While it could prove to be an effective addition to any B2B marketing campaign.. this approach won’t be available to most of us in the advertising world. Unfortunately.

That being said, advertising directly through LinkedIn has proven to be successful for a few of our clients. Most of our managers have found very specific use-cases for LinkedIn ads, usually dependant on where the traffic is in the marketing funnel.

Cold Traffic

Cold traffic is tricky with LinkedIn. At the end of the day, this is a network for professionals. The reason they use LinkedIn is because they (rightfully) believe that it has a positive on their work. At any given time, people are there to network, share, learn, or to reach to specific people/personas. They aren’t there to buy bulls—.

Use this to your advantage. Provide thought-leadership through sponsored posts. Don’t go straight for the kill shot – take it slow.

One of the best B2B ads I’ve run was a sponsored post linking to a blog post about some breaking industry news. As soon as the news broke, I had our client write up a quick take on it and got it up on the blog ASAP. Launched the ad to a very specific audience that needed to hear this news and watched the traffic roll in. Traffic turned to leads. Leads turned to business.

The single most important thing to be successful with LinkedIn ads is to identify who exactly you’re targeting and what they need to hear. Cold traffic, warm traffic, hot traffic – doesn’t matter.

Well, Bryce, it seems like the same could be said for all marketing initiatives…

Right you are! This is very important for all things marketing related, but even more exaggerated on LinkedIn. Like I mentioned earlier, people are on LinkedIn for a very specific reason. Not to be sold, entertained, or the like.

People are on LinkedIn to improve themselves, their career, or their business.

Warm Traffic

Warm (read: retargeting) traffic is similar, but you have a bit more leeway with what content you’re pushing. These people have already interacted with your brand, they’ve already been to the site, so they’re ready to buy in (just a little bit).

This is where you push them some sort of lead magnet. A whitepaper, a webinar, an e-book, a discount.

It’s still a little early to go for the sale, but these people are primed for an email capture. If you have a basic email nurturing campaign set up, you can continue to lift your brand’s equity through thought leadership and education via email, eventually going for that hard sell. If you don’t have an email marketing campaign set up… go do that right now.

Next step – create audiences based off of the lead magnet submissions and start pushing your final offer.

This has been a quick overview of the different ways you can advertise with (or through) LinkedIn. We have a few more in-depth guides if you’re interested in the more technical side, feel free to check them out!

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Bryce is a Paid Media Account Manager at Power Digital with experience with both Google and Facebook advertising. He attended SDSU (not too far from our office!) and has been apart of the PDM team since 2015. He's been passionate about technology and entrepreneurship his entire life and this passion translates through to his work in Digital. Out of the office, you can find Bryce at the beach, on a hike, or anywhere that has live music!