screenshot of new Linkedin audience targeting feature

LinkedIn Upgrades Ad Targeting Options

By: Lucy Kaplan

April 3, 2019

LinkedIn is upgrading how marketers can use their ad platform, making it easier to reach more of the right people. Lookalike Audiences has begun rolling out over the last week week, joining LinkedIn’s earlier ad targeting options: Interest Targeting with Microsoft Bing Data, and Audience Templates.

If you aren’t currently running ads on LinkedIn, now might be a good time to start. Below, a breakdown of the latest ad targeting developments at the professional network.

Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike audience targeting reaches people who are similar to your ideal customer. It has long been at the forefront of Facebook ad targeting because it works so well. The Lookalike Audiences feature targets new audiences that are similar to existing customers, upping the chances of conversion. And it has the potential to work even better on LinkedIn than on other platforms, since you can segment users based on their job titles. This could help marketers ensure that their ads are getting in front of gatekeepers and decision makers specific to an industry.

In a recent blog post, LinkedIn senior product manager Jae Oh emphasizes the following benefits of lookalike audience targeting:

Get the latest on LinkedIn strategy straight from the source—LinkedIn’s Matthew Saleski—at The Social Shake-Up, May 6-9 in Atlanta.

Oh says customers in the pilot were able to improve their campaign reach by five to ten times while still reaching the audiences that matter most to their organizations. He also gave three great examples of potential use cases:

Lookalike Audiences offers the option to upload customer data including email lists, recent event attendee lists or lists of website visitors. LinkedIn’s algorithm leverages that data to offer up an entirely new audience of potential customers who share similar traits.

Interest Targeting

Bing has started incorporating LinkedIn data for its search ad targeting. We’re now seeing search data being used for targeting on LinkedIn for the first time since Microsoft acquired it in 2016. Interest targeting was originally launched in January, but it’s been expanded with more options for improved targeting.

We know what you’re thinking: “Bing? I didn’t even realize they were still around.” Still, Bing visits have been steadily rising, reaching a 12-month high of 1.3 billion unique global visitors in January 2019.

At its start, interest targeting was exactly what it sounds like. It allowed us marketing peeps to focus on LinkedIn users with relevant ads matching their professional interests. Now, interest targeting also allows us to hone in on users based on topics relevant to their profession, using content they have clicked on or engaged with via Bing’s search engine.

Audience Templates

Audience Templates is a great place to start if you are placing ads on LinkedIn for the first time. And while we recommend getting as specific as can be on who your precise target market is, Audience Templates can help those companies who aren’t quite sure who to target. (It is also a good option for marketers new to ad targeting.)

When you are ready to place an ad using Audience Templates, all you have to do is search for a market segment that has to do with what you offer. You can simply type in what type of people you are trying to reach and LinkedIn does the rest, providing matches based on its internal algorithms. Currently, marketers can choose from 20 preselected B2B audiences (with more coming). LinkedIn lists characteristics like skills, job titles, etc. All one needs to do is click on the characteristics in a given template to target those users.

Best of all, these features are all rolling out over the next several weeks.

Follow Lucy: @lucyrk78

At The Social Shake-Up