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3 Ways LinkedIn Advertising is Different Than Other Paid Social Platforms

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3 Ways LinkedIn Advertising is Different Than Other Paid Social Platforms

LinkedIn Advertising gets classified a few ways. It gets called “Paid Social,” but it’s not very social. It gets called “Display,” but it shares very little with other Display channels. No, LinkedIn Advertising is in a world of its own – and for good reason.

Not Really Paid Social

Although LinkedIn is technically considered a social media platform, it is very different from most consumer-facing social media. Its advertising solutions are no different.

LinkedIn offers two main types of ad units. The first, right-rail text ads, (called simply, Ads) have no social element to them at all.

The platform’s most recent ad unit addition, called ‘Sponsored Updates,’ is definitely more socially focused, but the sociality revolves around your LinkedIn Company Page, which is the hub for all communication around your brand. Advertisers can ‘Like’, ‘Comment’ on, or ‘Share’ a Sponsored Update. They also tend to garner more company followers due to the additional exposure to new audiences.

LinkedIn Ads Audience Info


That being said, interaction with your audience is limited. Moderation is limited to simply deleting comments you don’t want appearing on an update. Commenters who ask questions don’t get alerted when the company responds back to them. And it wasn’t until earlier this year that a company could even respond on behalf of the company, instead of using one of the personal profiles of its employees.

Not Really Display Ads

The classification of ‘Display’ carries with it a fair bit of baggage. When I talk about doing Display, I’m not overly surprised when I hear the following questions:

  • Does anyone even click on banner ads anymore?
  • Do you enjoy polluting the web?
  • Do you have a soul? (Which of course I do not, because I am a ginger)

The advent of retargeting and programmatic was a boon to Display advertisers because it gave us the ability to do more sophisticated targeting and segmentation, but it is still very reactive, meaning you need to observe behavior before you’re able to classify a user as being a part of your audience.

A Righteous Hybrid

Of course LinkedIn Advertising has pieces of the above, but it really stands in a class of its own, which it deserves. According to research by consultant Hutch Carpenter, 72% of the Fortune 1000 are B2B, and yet it is a difficult market to reach because there are very few places where business data is aggregated in a complete enough way.

LinkedIn just happens to have the best business data, which positions it perfectly to be that B2B advertising player.

Here’s the Gold:

LinkedIn Advertising is an entire platform with its own learning curve – to show ads on only one domain. Sounds crazy right? Here’s why it’s worth every bit:

1. One Domain

Visitors to are in a business mindset. As Robert Brady at Clix Marketing said, “They don’t dawdle around … watching Ice Bucket Challenge videos or looking at cat pictures….They’re focused.” You may only get traffic from a single domain, but you’re getting their attention at the very best possible time.

Also, don’t count the rest of the web out for LinkedIn-style targeting. LinkedIn just recently announced the acquisition of Bizo, the B2B powerhouse ad network. Official plans aren’t announced yet, but I would put my money on being able to target specific business professionals across the web.

2. Near-Unlimited Traffic receives an insanely large amount of traffic. Comscore reported that in August 2014, LinkedIn saw 88.8MM unique visitors. Even with Display-level CTRs, it would take an insane monthly budget to fully reach the edges of LI’s site traffic.

3. Most Qualified Traffic

With paid search, there are very limited ways to qualify your traffic because interns type the same keywords as the CEO; whereas with LinkedIn, you target based on business characteristics. This means you not only get to show ads to ONLY those who precisely fit your target audience (audience relevancy), but you also can draw conjectures about purchase authority based on your product’s price point, and your target’s relative seniority inside the business.

For instance, if your product costs $500/mo, there’s a really good chance that a Manager-level will be qualified to make that purchase. On the other hand, if it’s $5,000/mo, you might have to target VPs or CXOs. Either way, LinkedIn targeting lends itself to this type of qualification quite nicely.

In addition, LinkedIn professionals tend to be more affluent personally as well, leaving room for end-user offers to be effective.

No Matter How You Classify It

Whether you call it Paid Social, or Display, or something completely different, LinkedIn is definitely a different beast in the Pay-Per-Click Advertising industry. If you’re a B2B-focused company, though, there is no better platform to reach your target business users.


All screenshots taken November 2014


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AJ Wilcox

Founder at B2Linked

AJ Wilcox fell in love with LinkedIn advertising 4 years ago, while seeing phenomenal successes. He founded, which specializes ... [Read full bio]

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