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Let’s compare Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads when it comes to ad options, audience reach, cost, features & more.
Here, you’ll find:
- Similarities between Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads
- How these ad platforms differ from one another
- The pros and cons of each
- Tips for determining which is right for your business
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 your pay-per-click (or 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.
Of course, 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.
It’s an understatement to say Google reaches a massive audience. 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, mostly. 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.
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.
Pro tip: While LinkedIn does have a smaller audience, since the pandemic began, they’ve had an impressive growth spurt with increased metrics across the board. They’re expected to keep growing and gaining more traction in the marketing space.
When you’re targeting an audience through Google Ads, you have several options to work with. These include:
- Buyer behavior
- Interactions with your website or app
But 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 a handful of personal details, such as their job title, education, experience, industry, interests, and much more.
LinkedIn users can also 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 even offers a Matched Audiences feature. This helps marketers match their email lists and website visitors with LinkedIn users.
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 more than 20 audience attribute categories.
Lead generation & intent
When it comes to lead generation, Google Ads’ wider reach becomes an advantage. For one, 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 (called Message Ads), which can help with the lead generation process.
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.
Pro tip: Google is constantly making changes to Google Ads, and what you don’t know can hurt you. Keep up to date with changes and the latest ways to make Google Ads work for your business.
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.
With Google, the average cost per click is about $0.67 for search and $2.32 for display ads. 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 may be less than satisfactory.
Digital ad budgets for these two platforms depend on a handful of factors. But on average, Google Ads are less expensive than LinkedIn Ads.
However, 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
- Fewer segmentation opportunities
- A competitive market
- Ad design and content limitations (characters, emojis, descriptions, etc.)
LinkedIn Ads pros:
- A wide variety of targeting opportunities (more in-depth than any other platform)
- Easy to get started
- High-value prospects
- Account-based marketing opportunities
- 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
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.
If your budget allows, diversifying your paid search marketing effort is an excellent way to achieve a better marketing ROI.
This post has been updated and was originally published in November 2020.