Recently, Microsoft Ads unveiled a new targeting option that marketers had been curious about since Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition a couple of years ago. LinkedIn, like Facebook and other social media sites, holds a wealth of knowledge about our customers. However, LinkedIn’s knowledge is particularly valuable for B2B operations. Given that LinkedIn is meant for explicitly stating your profession, job role, duties, and networking with others, this professional consumer profile is a gold mine for B2B marketers trying to reach decision makers.
So, you can imagine B2B marketers’ excitement when Microsoft announced they would be slowly rolling out LinkedIn targeting features – namely company, industry, and job function – within their ads platform. “This is great!,” I thought, “We can finally get more granular with our job industry targeting.” Meaning, instead of just being able to target wide, general industries, such as Health & Medical Jobs or Education Workers, we could get more specific and target “hospital administrator” or “elementary teachers.” This would, in theory, allow us to weed out the unwanted traffic that we get with broader categories, making out spending more efficient.
Implementing LinkedIn Targeting
This feature is currently in a closed Beta, so not all advertisers have access to it at this moment. However, if you do have access to it, you can find the feature under the demographics tab of the left hand toolbar in Microsoft Ad’s new interface layout (another recent unveiling).
After entering the demographic section, you’ll see the targeting options for company, industry, and job function at the top of your page. Whenever you jump into one of these options, you will see selector tools for choosing your targets. At the company level, there are approximately 80,000 companies that can be used for targeting. However, you do not get a drop down menu for picking and choosing from these 80,000. Instead, you will need to search for each company that you want to target. This is fine for anyone that has an exhaustive list of relevant companies at hand, but it is not so great if you are needing to explore your options. Because you can’t see the full list of options, you don’t know what is and what isn’t available to you – and who has time to research all of the companies that could possibility be beneficial to you, particularly when you don’t know if they are even available to use in targeting! Another difficulty in actually implementation of this targeting, is that there is no option for bulk uploading a company list. So if you do happen to have a full list of companies to target…you will still need to add them one by one, even if that list is hundreds of companies long.
At the industry and job function level, however, there is a Browse feature that allows you to explore your options for targeting. Within these two sections there are 175 different industries and 26 different job functions available to you.
The last important thing to call out here, and it is BIG thing, is the actual targeting capability for each of these options. For these targeting options, you can only target by bids – meaning you just have the capability of adjusting your bid aggressiveness through positive and negative bid modifiers. You cannot narrow your audience and only go after individuals in your selected companies/industries/job functions. Instead, you can only choose how more or less valuable they are to you in comparison to the rest of your audience (and keywords) you are targeting.
Despite some of the obstacles and options for narrowing down a target audience, this Microsoft Ads feature is still pretty useful. In theory, even though you are still picking up some unwanted noise due to bid-only targeting, you can compare what companies, etc. your product is appealing most to by comparing audience performance.
I tested this tool specifically for company targets for over 2 months, at a moderate spend. Luckily, I had a pretty lengthy list of companies to target and was able to find the majority of them in Microsoft Ad’s company search feature. So, going into this test with over 3,000 companies targeted, I felt that my audience size would be large enough to gather a decent sample of performance.
However, after these two months, performance was very…lackluster. It didn’t make efficiency worse, but it certainly didn’t improve it. In fact, it did almost nothing. During this two month period, I saw less than 50 impressions and 0 clicks. What?!?! This was very disappointing.
I am still testing out different bid levels for these company targets to attempt to increase traffic, and Microsoft Ads is improving the feature throughout the Beta, so perhaps these company targets will prove valuable at some point. However, for my test right now, they have not lived up to my hopes and dreams. Perhaps utilizing the Job Functions and Industry options will prove more worthwhile, I plan to test these features next – so more to come on the initial reviews of LinkedIn targeting in Microsoft Ads!