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Written by Sam Yadegar on Nov 20 , 2020

Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads have key similarities and differences. Here’s how to determine which one right for your business.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Similarities between Google Ads vs. LinkedIn Ads
  • How these platforms differ from one another
  • The pros and cons of each
  • How to determine which platform may be right for you

When it comes to paid search marketing platforms, Google Ads is often at the top of the list. And between its popularity, versatility, and simplicity, it’s a highly appealing choice. But when you put all of your pay-per-click (PPC) eggs in one proverbial basket, you could be missing out on potential leads.

That’s just one reason we’ve seen many businesses explore options outside of Google Ads. One growing trend we’ve noticed lately: more B2B companies turning to LinkedIn Ads.

Both Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads are efficient paid search advertising tools. However, each one comes with specific pros and cons that provide different benefits to different businesses and audiences. Let’s take a closer look at how they compare.

b2b companies audience segmentation

When users sign up for LinkedIn, they often share an impressive variety of details, including job title, education, experience, industry, interests, and much more. (Image via Rawpixel)

Target audience

To say that Google reaches a massive audience is an understatement. Because of this, it’s fair to assume that almost everyone’s target audience uses the search engine to some degree — a big advantage for companies when it comes to targeting.

On the other hand, businesses that need to narrow down their reach may struggle to get their settings just right on the platform. And a mistake made when segmenting audiences could negatively impact your digital ad campaign spend.

Of course, LinkedIn has a much narrower audience: businesses and business professionals. But this makes it an ideal destination for B2B marketing. LinkedIn allows marketers to target decision-makers and key audience members in a variety of effective ways.

  • Google Ad reach — 4 billion Google users
  • LinkedIn Ad reach — 500 million LinkedIn users

Bottom line: For B2B companies looking to connect with decision-makers, LinkedIn is an excellent digital ad platform. For B2C companies trying to widen their reach, Google Ads usually work best.  

Segmentation opportunities

When you’re targeting an audience through Google Ads, you have limited options to work with. They include location, demographics, affinity, technology, buyer behavior, and interactions with your website or app. No matter how well you know your buyer persona, it can be difficult to completely avoid clicks from unqualified leads.

When users sign up for LinkedIn, they often share an impressive variety of details, including job title, education, experience, industry, interests, and much more.

Additionally, LinkedIn users can join groups, spark conversations and even create followings. This data becomes priceless when you start targeting highly specific audiences and implementing account-based marketing. LinkedIn also offers a Matched Audience feature that helps marketers match their email lists and website visitors with LinkedIn users.

Bottom line: For B2C and B2B companies targeting a wide audience, Google Ads has sufficient targeting features. But for B2B companies that need to target highly specific potential clients, LinkedIn Ads provide up to 100 segmentation methods.

Lead generation and intent

When it comes to lead generation, Google Ads’ wider reach becomes an advantage. Firstly, you can bring in a big number of potential clients without exhausting your budget. The audience you target on Google comes to the search engine with an intent to find a product or a service. This makes lead generation much easier.

Generating leads on LinkedIn can be somewhat trickier. Platform users often sign in to learn industry news or chat with fellow group members. No matter how well you design or place your ad, viewers simply may not be susceptible to it.  

However, unlike Google Ads, LinkedIn has an option of targeting leads through messages (sponsored InMail), which can help with the lead generation process.

Bottom line: Lead generation is often more efficient through Google Ads. However, LinkedIn offers an opportunity to find valuable prospects with a variety of specific targeting tools.

google ads vs. linkedin ads b2b companies

Digital ad budgets for these two platforms depend on a handful of factors. (Image via Rawpixel)

Expenses

When it comes to pricing, LinkedIn’s ads are generally more expensive than Google’s. Just like in Google, you can choose cost-per-click (CPC) and cost per impression (CPM) options as well.

LinkedIn also offers a cost-per-send (CPS) model for its InMail advertising. On average, you could expect to pay about $5 per click (with a minimum bid of $2), $6 per 1,000 impressions, and $0.80 per send.

With Google, the average cost per click is about $1. But to take full advantage of the low cost, you’ll likely need to put in some serious audience segmentation efforts. Otherwise, your paid search marketing ROI can be less than satisfactory.

Bottom line: Digital ad budgets for these two platforms depend on a handful of factors. But on average, Google Ads are less expensive than LinkedIn Ads. A B2B company with a tight paid search marketing budget may benefit more from a limited number of LinkedIn Ads than from a wide variety of Google Ads.

Google Ads vs. LinkedIn Ads: Pros and cons

This quick comparison can help you make the right decision when choosing between the two paid search advertising options.

Google Ads pros:

  • Wider audience
  • Lower CPC
  • Audience with the intent to buy
  • Excellent documentation and support
  • Many ad types

Google Ads cons:

  • A high learning curve for advanced options if you’re running them yourself
  • Limited number of segmentation opportunities
  • A competitive market
  • Ad design and content limitations (characters, emojis, descriptions)

LinkedIn Ads pros:

  • A wide variety of targeting opportunities (better than on any other platform)
  • Easy to get started
  • High-value prospects
  • Opportunities for account-based marketing
  • Easy budget planning

LinkedIn Ads cons:

  • Narrow and specific audience
  • Audience without intent to buy products or use services
  • Higher CPC, impression, and send
  • Lack of robust reporting and analytics tools

The takeaway

So, Google Ads vs. LinkedIn Ads: which one is better? The answer, of course, isn’t one size fits all. 

The right choice of a paid ad platform will depend on factors including your budget, specific product or service, target audience, and marketing goals.

The good news? You don’t need to choose between Google Ads and LinkedIn ads. Many companies use both of them — along with Instagram, Facebook, and other avenues. If your budget allows, diversifying your paid search marketing effort is an excellent way to achieve a better marketing ROI.

Want to learn more about Google and LinkedIn advertising? Let’s talk.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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