What’s Really Behind Linkedin’s Advertising Growth?

By Tyler Jordan, Founder & CEO, Jordan Digital Marketing

A recent story from the Financial Times linked a surge in LinkedIn advertising costs to a surge of demand from advertisers turning their backs on X (formerly Twitter) and looking for a new B2B alternative.

I run an agency that focuses on high-growth B2B brands. Over the last year or so, we’ve also seen an uptick in demand for LinkedIn campaigns (although not with the cost hikes the Financial Times referenced), but I’m not sure it’s because of X.

In this post, I’ll talk about what I see as the real drivers behind LinkedIn advertising growth and what the platform can do to keep making inroads into B2B marketing budgets.

X never marked the spot

Even before Elon Musk’s personal views and erratic behavior made X a shaky option for companies who didn’t want to risk their brand integrity by association, the brands in our portfolio weren’t spending much there. The lion’s share of their budgets were going to Google, LinkedIn, and even Meta (which has improved audience targeting significantly over the past couple of years). X/Twitter seemed, at least to me, to be more of an awareness play for bigger brands; it doesn’t have the targeting, intent mapping, or conversion power of its competitors, which meant the performance-focused companies we worked with tended to stay away in the first place.

Gaining ground at Google’s expense

On the other hand, Google has typically dominated the budgets for the brands we manage, but over the last year-plus, they’ve managed to shoot themselves in the foot enough for us to actually see some erosion in their budgeting. Between a YouTube placement controversy, a Search Partners placement controversy, horribly eroding account support, fewer and fewer controls to help advanced advertisers gain efficiencies, and a general lack of innovative products for B2B, Google’s status as a white-hat partner for B2B ads has plummeted. (That’s without even mentioning the in-progress antitrust trial.)

All of those have made our brands much more willing to spend on LinkedIn, despite the platform’s relatively high CPCs and CPMs – especially as LinkedIn rolls out new releases aimed to help advertisers more effectively find and engage the right users.

Promising LinkedIn releases

Among LinkedIn’s recently released products, predictive audiences, website actions for retargeting, and revenue attribution reporting have caught my eye (and the eyes of a number of my clients).

Predictive audiences let you combine the power of LinkedIn’s high-powered professional targeting with seed audiences of your own best users to find new batches of audiences to engage.

Website actions helps advertisers build retargeting audiences based on defined website actions, like form fills or page visits. This is generally a good strategic move as we face a post-cookie world and specifically a good move for LinkedIn, which is a relatively expensive channel for first-touch engagements but excels in nurturing audiences in the long B2B sales cycle.

Revenue attribution reporting is actually a fairly self-serving move for LinkedIn in that it ties advertising activities to actual pipeline and revenue from brand CRM data. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s not useful for advertisers. B2B campaigns have always presented measurement challenges because of their long, multi-touch sales cycles and the fact that multiple people are often involved in the purchase decision. While I’d always suggest that advertisers look critically at data where the platform assesses its own value in a silo (the same is true of Google and Meta, which tend to overinflate their own conversion numbers), anything that helps advertisers see a holistic picture of influence and engagement leading to an eventual purchase should prove helpful.

Ultimately, LinkedIn’s growing demand is a good thing for B2B advertisers; any pressure a competitor can put on Google (which still dominates budgets) to be a better partner is welcome. If LinkedIn can continue to give advertisers reason to test new functionality and can refine measurement and attribution accuracy along the way, it stands to keep gaining ground – no matter what Elon Musk’s next PR controversy looks like.