On February 28th 2022 the latest LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Product Roadmap was shared with marketers and agencies via a one hour webinar, hosted by LinkedIn themselves. Here are what we consider to be the most relevant takeaways for brands advertising on LinkedIn:
Increased Focus on Attribution
On the roadmap for Q3 2022 is Revenue Attribution Reporting (RAR). There was only a small tease about this new feature so details are still scarce, but from what we gather LinkedIn Ads will in the future integrate with your CRM in a way that allows deal information to be displayed in LinkedIn Business Manager alongside ad spend.
What does that mean for advertisers? Well, I’m sure it won’t solve all of your attribution headaches, but you will at least be able to tie LinkedIn ad spend to closed deals and pipeline inside LinkedIn Business Manager to demonstrate the ROI of your campaigns from a single interface. What many companies are already attempting to do inside a CRM or BI platform will soon, for LinkedIn Ads spend at least, be available right within the platform that your ads are running on.
Combine that with the new Conversion Tracking UI that was rolled out in Q4 2021 and upcoming (in Beta now) enhancements to Offline Conversion tracking and you can see how much LinkedIn understand the importance of being able to track sales metrics back to ad spend, helping marketers make commercial decisions and strengthening the relationship between sales and marketing teams.
Brand Lift Test Enhancements
We specialise in marketing for start-ups and are used to working with brands who are either new to LinkedIn or new companies entirely, so this one is important to us.
A Brand Lift Test allows an advertiser to run surveys on LinkedIn to establish how well known their brand is both to people who have seen their ads, and to a control audience of people who haven’t.
We know that new brands often find typical metrics such as click-through rate and lead form conversion fall below industry benchmarks in the early days of a campaign, and we encourage start-ups to consider softer metrics such as reach and frequency as a way of measuring success of their LinkedIn Ads at the beginning of their exploration onto the platform.
Brand Lift Tests are an extension of this, and mean that marketing teams can prove a positive return on ad spend (in the form of brand recall) in the early days of campaigns before the campaigns start delivering solid clicks and leads.
We are pleased to see enhanced brand lift reporting being added to the LinkedIn Ads product roadmap for Q1 2022 that will now include demographic breakdowns and industry & region benchmarks.
New Formats & Placements
Some are a way off, but LinkedIn announced a number of new ad formats that will be coming later this year. They include Document Ads, Click-to-Message Ads, and Conversation Starter Ads.
Document Ads (Q1 2022)
Again, details are a bit hazy, but this has been described by LinkedIn as a way to ‘promote documents, such as eBooks, slides and papers —in the LinkedIn feed —to grow thought leadership and engagement’.
So it seems that being able to put a white paper in front of your audience and allow them to engage with it natively on the LinkedIn platform rather than having to click through to a separate page to view it is on the cards. What is not clear is the lead capture aspect of these ads. We are big fans of offering white papers in exchange for members’ details as part of a lead generation strategy, but how this manifests itself in a Document Ad remains to be seen. It’s worth saying that during the session the presenter did say that lead generation would be possible with Document Ads, so I think it’s just a case of seeing exactly how that’s going to work.
Click-to-Message Ads (Beta Q2 2022)
This is a new call-to-action option that’s being rolled out to selected accounts in Q2 2022. What the Click-to-Message ad will do is allow for a ‘Start Chat’ button to be added to an ad. When the LinkedIn member clicks the button they will be taken to their LinkedIn inbox and connected with the advertiser in a live chat session. Powerful stuff.
Conversation Starter Ads (Beta Q3 2022) – not for EU members
This sounds remarkably similar to Click-to-Message ads, but we have been assured that it is different. Instead of being an ad placement in the feed, the Conversation Starter Ad will sit in the LinkedIn inbox (aka Messaging section) and allow any member who is high intent and looking to take action to immediately start a conversation with an advertiser right there from the inbox.
It’s encouraging to see LinkedIn keeping pace with changing expectations of both members and advertisers with the new experiences it is delivering. The fact that some of these features won’t be available to EU advertisers is also an indication of the increased focus that LinkedIn is putting on data and privacy, as we have previously observed when LinkedIn suspended Sponsored Messages for EU members back in December 2021.
DemandBase (and other partners) Integration
As proponents of Account Based Marketing we are particularly excited by this one. DemandBase is a platform that allows advertisers to create audiences of highly relevant people at the companies they care about the most. Think less ‘shotgun’ and more ‘sniper’ and you’ll begin to understand why an ABM platform such as DemandBase can make the difference between campaigns that are irrelevant and annoying versus those that speak to prospects with words they’ve been waiting to hear.
As part of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions’ evolution there will soon be an integration with DemandBase where a curated audience created on the ABM platform can be synced across to LinkedIn Ads and used in a highly targeted ad campaign.
Other partners featured on the integration roadmap include Adobe (for reporting, ROI and audiences), Zapier (for lead generation for event forms) and MailChimp (for lead generation).
Finally, in addition to all of the above a number of enhancements to the user experience were announced that will make the life of anybody managing LinkedIn Ads accounts easier. They include bringing Ad Accounts, Pages and Matched Audiences into a single interface – making it easier for campaign managers to access these tools from a single place, and making granting access to team members easier.
Boosting will now be easier, allowing organic posts to be boosted directly from the LinkedIn page rather than having to manage that through LinkedIn Campaign Manager. A/B testing is on the roadmap for Q2 2022 though very few details are given other than that you will be able to compare the performance of two campaigns that differ by one variable and identify a winner. We have also noticed lately – though not mentioned on the call – that it is now possible to retarget viewers of single image ads, a feature that until recently was only possible for viewers of video ads.
We did also ask whether we might at some point be able to run ads with different formats (e.g. image ads and video ads) in a single campaign, and were told that it’s not on the roadmap for now but is being discussed. We live in hope.
It has been a while since we have seen as many new features as this announced, and we are happy to see LinkedIn investing in the future and trying to bring enhanced accountability to ad spend on their platform, as well as the attention they are paying to member privacy. LinkedIn remains the only platform where members actively update their profile information, and is a powerful marketing tool for any advertiser wishing to create brand awareness, engagement, and generate leads from a highly targeted audience. As we move further into 2022 we feel that the opportunities presented by the new ad formats, brand lift test enhancements, revenue attribution reporting, partner integrations and other enhancements will put advertisers in a stronger position to create relevant and engaging experiences for their prospects and maximise the return on their marketing investment.