Here were the resources we covered in the episode:
Want to better understand ad frequency and how it impacts your ad performance and results? We’re talking all about it this week on this week’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show.
Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox. Hey there, LinkedIn Ads fanatics. Like he said, I’m AJ Wilcox and I’m the host of the weekly podcast, The LinkedIn Ads Show. And I’m thrilled to welcome you to the show for advanced B2B marketers to evolve through a transformational journey towards mastering LinkedIn Ads and achieving true pro level status. Today we’re talking about frequency and how it affects your demand generation performance. I say demand generation here, because frequency impacts all stages of the customer journey. You can see the impact in the cold stages when you’re generating brand awareness, and you can definitely see the impact as you’re generating leads. And your sales team will definitely see the impact of frequency on the leads that you’re generating in their own metrics.
First off in the news, last episode we talked about how LinkedIn was going to be sunsetting the website demographics tool. And Joanna Kimura of the LinkedIn product team reached out after we announced that website demographics are being sunset. And she told me something really cool that I hadn’t considered before. The functionality isn’t really going away, per se. That data is definitely still available, but in a little bit more roundabout of a way. So the way that you do it is you go and create a matched audience, which basically means you set up a retargeting audience based on all of your website traffic. And then you can go view the audience insights for that matched audience, and you’ll see very much of the same information that you would normally get from website demographics. You get pretty much the same data from it, with a couple exceptions, like Katy Henson and Jay Rathell in our LinkedIn Ads Fanatics community brought up a couple weeks ago. We can’t do the side by side
comparison feature like we used to be able to.So I’m far less disappointed at losing this feature, but it does underscore the importance of creating at least one website retargeting audience before November 30th of 2023, so you don’t have any lapse in data. We may at some point have Johanna Kimura on the show to talk about this feature. So stand by for that. Do you have any questions, reviews, or feedback on the show? Message me on LinkedIn, or email us at podcast at b2linked. com, and you can attach or link to a voice recording message from you. I’ll play them here on the show, and I’m happy to keep them anonymous or share your details if you want. So, just record yourself asking a question, commenting on something from a past episode, And I’ll aim to include you right in the show. Alright, with that being said, let’s hit it.
So first, we have to ask ourselves, Why do we measure frequency? What is it for? And why do we care? Forrester Research, and you’ll see the link in the show notes, tells us that the average B2B purchase happened after 17 interactions with the brand. Now, there are a lot of ways of racking up interactions with your brand. Many are paid, many have earned media attached to them. We know that LinkedIn Ads are expensive, with cost per click in North America in the $10 – $16 range on average, and of course, increasing as we go. Do the calculation. If you have to pay for 17 interactions all through LinkedIn Ads, you’ll need to dole out a hundred and seventy to two hundred and seventy two dollars per single individual to get that 17 clicks from them. And that doesn’t even account for all the professionals that you pay for that don’t end up closing as a closed deal. Which is why we visualize the process as a funnel. Lots ofpeople being reached at the top, and fewer people interacting down at the
bottom. Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that all 17 of those touches need to be paid clicks. They could be as simple as an impression of your ad that didn’t cost anything, or an interaction from some other channel, your newsletter, SEO, paid search, all of those things.I would argue that meaningful interactions are much more valuable here and effective than just any old interaction. So you’re not trying to just rack up 17 interactions just for the heck of it. You want these to be meaningful, and I would suggest that if all of your brand touchpoints are meaningful and memorable, and value rich, maybe they’re funny, that you might not need a full 17 touchpoints, or maybe it still requires 17 touchpoints but the deals close faster or are higher closed value once they reach sales when they are. I would also suggest that these touchpoints are much more effective when in quick succession and not spread apart by long periods of time. For instance, if you had 17 touchpoints over the course of 5 years, it may require significantly more than that to close the deal. Versus if you had all 17 of those touch points happen within the course of six months. And there is, of course, a double edged sword here. Bombarding your audience with brand interactions too often and too quickly can result in what we call audience saturation.
So this is what we need to balance as marketers. We often have tools that allow us to cross that fine line into our brand becoming annoying rather than being helpful and staying top of mind. Your job as a marketer is to watch your data and understand when you may be crossing that line and fix it. I remember years ago, there was a local car wash that had the most annoying jingle in their ad and they were putting locations near me here in Utah. Whenever I watched YouTube, their annoying jingle would play during every ad break, sometimes twice in a row, for months. I decided early on I would never become their customer, and I left a comment on their social media saying that their ads need tighter frequency caps. You don’t want this to happen to your brand. I mean, it’s a freaking car wash, who cares? But I just wonder how many other people they annoyed to death besides me, and lost out on all future customers that way. So we know that frequency is important, so how do we measure this repeated exposure of our audience to our ads? This is a metric called frequency. It’s calculated by taking your total impressions, which is how many times your ad was shown, and dividing it by the unique number of people who saw your ads. Simply put, imagine that you showed your ad ten times. Two people saw it 3X and one person saw it 4X If you do that math, you’d have an average frequency of 3.3, meaning the average person saw your ad 3.3X In practice, we’re talking about LinkedIn, which is admittedly not a platform that you come to spend a lot of leisure time on compared to other social media channels.
So in your ad frequency, it’s made up of some very active members who might have seen your ad daily or even multiple times per day. And then average that out with some people who may have only seen it the one time they logged in that month. I’ve extensively studied various frequency ranges and compared them to performance, and the results are all the way across the board. Sometimes I see performance decline after a frequency of 3, and sometimes performance is still going strong on a frequency of 6. So I wouldn’t ever use any frequency KPI as your trigger to start making changes. This is much better done as a response to performance starting to decline, not just the frequency KPI. So shortly after we released the frequency caps episode, Episode 78, LinkedIn quietly changed their frequency caps, meaning that that episode may not have been entirely accurate now. Thank you, LinkedIn. So I’ve been waiting for an appropriate time to get really geeky with you and get to share these updated rules so that you can be aware and have tighter control over how you have those meaningful interactions with your target audience. You may remember that LinkedIn used to talk about their 5 in 48 rule with sponsored content. And this meant that if you had five or more ads or creatives, as they’re called, in a single campaign, your ads could be eligible to reach the same user up to five times in a 48 hour period. Well, now that rule has been updated and it’s now the 7 in 48 rule. And you might’ve noticed this where your LinkedIn ad reps used to recommend that you had five creatives in a campaign. And now all of a sudden, out of nowhere, they’re recommending seven creatives per campaign. That’s definitely because of this rule. They want you to fully saturate your audience because that’s how they make more money. So if you have seven or more creatives in a campaign, it’s now eligible to reach the same user, if they’re active enough, up to seven times in a 48 hour period. Which, for those of you who live on either the left or the right side of the international day line, is two days. That’s a joke. We all live on one side of the international day line. Okay, back to seriousness here. Each individual creative can only be repeated to the same LinkedIn member every eight hours. So the highest performing ad could be shown all 7 of the allotted times in the 48 hour period, if that member is very active. That means they’re active more than at least every eight hours. Now, this is opposed to the old frequency caps, which only allowed one ad to be seen once in a 48 hour period. Companies could only show a member an ad every 12 hours. Now, what I’m not clear on with the updated frequency caps is how often your ads can show if you have less or fewer than seven creatives per campaign. I’m guessing it still works like it used to, so go back and listen to episode 87 if you’re curious about how that worked. But having that potentially very high frequency is based on having lots of ads in your campaign. If you only have one to two creatives in a single campaign, the max that campaign could show to the same member is twice in a 48 hour period, so once per day, and by the way, I actually like this a lot better. When you hit high frequency numbers on LinkedIn, you’re inevitably bombarding your most active audience members with a deluge of what they would consider spam. And at the same time, the less active members of your audience are receiving low levels of exposure. They’re only seeing your ads every so often, and you’re effectively splitting your audience in two by their behavior. And since you as the advertiser can’t tell those audience segments apart, they’re all the same audience segment inside of a campaign, you’ll see the average performance between those audiences. Averaging those who felt annoyed and spammed, and those who very rarely saw your ads. And because it’s all averaged, you don’t see the huge decline in those who are being annoyed. Alright, we’re going to take a quick sponsor break, and then I’m going to rant for a minute about something.
The LinkedIn Ads Show is proudly brought to you by B2Linked.com, the LinkedIn Ads experts.
If you want to get a return from your LinkedIn Ads, consider this. How much ad spend are you willing to waste along the way? After auditing over 800 LinkedIn Ads accounts, we’ve noticed one common theme, and that’s wasted ad spend. B2Linked helps B2B companies maximize profit by minimizing waste from the poor targeting, poor bidding, and bad campaign setup. Book a discovery call today to eliminate the waste in your account. Just go to b2linked.com/ discovery, and we’d absolutely love the chance to get to work with you. Alright, so here’s my rant. This is what I don’t like about LinkedIn recommending 7 creatives in a campaign. When the frequency cap on LinkedIn was showing only one ad every 24 hour period for an advertiser, that kept advertisers with massive budgets from dominating and snatching up all the available ad inventory. This kept the costs power for smaller advertisers who don’t have the six figures per month to spend, and they could still access that inventory because the bigger spenders were being held back from it. Well, now that LinkedIn has increased the frequency caps, the available ad inventory is now more competitive with advertisers with higher budgets able to capture more of it more often. This raises the costs across the entire platform for everyone. Costs per click are increasing heavily every year. LinkedIn is obviously incentivized to do this because they make more money as competition rises. And you can see this every year as you see your costs per click climb, you know that this is contributing to it. You can see this in the standard recommendations that you get from reps. They always encourage 5 – 7 creatives per campaign. They always recommend max delivery bidding. These are the two things that make the costs on the platform increase the most. It feels like a blatant cash grab. And these rapidly rising costs are one of the things that keep me up at night. Okay, I’m going to step off my soapbox here, but I wanted to get that off my chest. Let’s talk about LinkedIn audience network in relation to frequency caps. Now, LAN, as we call it, is treated very differently in frequency caps, as opposed to just advertising that is shown on LinkedIn. Since the ads are served across lots of different publishers, LinkedIn doesn’t impose a strict frequency cap on LAN. I’ve even noticed this by some publishers seeing multiple of our ads show up on the same page. So, definitely not a strict frequency cap. If you’re using the Brand Awareness Objective, which we often don’t recommend, you can set your goal to reach, and that will limit your frequency because it’s purposely trying to optimize towards getting as many unique users seeing your ads as possible, not bombarding the same user over and over. And if you have a small audience, you might notice a higher frequency across LAN. I don’t know why that’s the case. I can’t reason through that. Lead Gen Forms are also treated a bit differently in frequency. Once a member fills out a Lead Gen Form, they won’t see that specific creative that they converted on for two years. It’s kind of crazy, and I like it. You don’t have to go and do any sort of complex exclusions. It just happens automatically behind the scenes. Now, most of the time, we’re going to recommend running A B tests of everything. So what it doesn’t do, it doesn’t stop that member from seeing the same form if it’s attached to a B version of that ad. So if you’re running an A B, they convert on the A, they could still see the B format. So it’s still a good idea to add your own exclusions to those who converted. That’s just best practice. But this is nice for especially smaller advertisers who aren’t following our advice, who have just maybe one creative running all the time. It’s going to automatically do that exclusion for them. What it’s not doing, though, is graduating them to the next stage, and that’s important to set up, too. so this potential prospect, they convert on one ad, but then after that, they don’t see your ads anymore, uh, unless you’re purposely trying to retarget them.
All right, how does Sponsored Messaging ads work with frequency? Well, Sponsored Messaging is definitely going away. So it doesn’t deserve much of our attention and our mindshare here. It’s still relevant right now. And so I’ll share what’s interesting about it. Message Ads have all but gone away. But since there are some advertisers who rely on them heavily, and are lobbying LinkedIn, like, please don’t take these away. LinkedIn keeps dragging their feet a bit more in taking them away. We still have Conversation Ads, but they’ll eventually be converted to become Sponsored Content Ads. So they’ll have much higher frequency caps then. So more to come on that ad format. But as currently, with these Sponsored Messaging, sending ads right to someone’s LinkedIn inbox, any LinkedIn member can’t receive more than one sponsored messaging ad in their inbox every 30 days. That’s not just from you, that’s from anyone. So that means you as an advertiser, if you capitalize on that, you send that to
someone, they can’t get an ad from one of your competitors or anyone for that matter for 30 days. So that’s kind of cool. What’s interesting though, is that an individual member won’t receive the same Sponsored Messaging Ad for 60 more days. Which I actually really like. It gives us ad managers a little bit of time to come up with new creative without dropping exactly the same ad on them two months in a row. Members can go out of their way into their privacy settings and opt out of Sponsored Messaging ads altogether. Most won’t, which I think is great. I question why LinkedIn allows this level of privacy settings, because I think Sponsored Messaging Ads are much less annoying than all of the Sales Navigator outreach spam that we get, where any individual can get multiple outreaches per day. Every time I’ve talked to someone about Sponsored Messaging Ads and they go, oh, those are so annoying, I get them all the time, I tell them, no, you can only get one every 30 days. All of the other stuff that you’re getting is from anyone who has Sales Navigator and can reach out to a certain number of people who they’re not connected to with more or less spam messages. So I don’t think Sponsored Messaging Ads are annoying at all. They’re just, they happen so rarely. Something else interesting is that a brand new LinkedIn profile won’t be eligible to see a Sponsored Messaging Ad until after their account is at least 30 days old. I don’t know why this is, it could be an attempt to not waste ad dollars on a possibly fake account before LinkedIn has a chance to notice it’s fake and shut it down. Or it could be that they’re trying to spare brand new members , the bad user experience of getting hit with an ad right on signup. It’s probably a little bit of both. Maybe there’s some other ideas, so let me know if you have other ideas for why this is. What about Dynamic Ads? We see a lot of people using Dynamic Ads. These can only show five impressions per day at a maximum of one per minute. So if someone’s really active and they’re loading lots of pages on LinkedIn, they will only see one every minute, up to five times per day. And I think, LinkedIn doesn’t tell us, but I think this might be per campaign, meaning that you could potentially show more by creating multiple campaigns to the same target audience.
We’ve definitely seen evidence of frequency caps being pushed up by having multiple campaigns. So, Yeah, we have a little bit of a case study on that in episode 78, so go listen to that. Closely related, we have Text Ads, and that same episode, episode 78, when we were looking at the data, we postulated that they might have a frequency cap of around 15 impressions per day, because we noticed that some of our most active campaigns were getting around a frequency of 8. So I was like, okay, you take the super active members who are maxing out at 15, and then others who weren’t as active, and maybe were settling on around 8. It turns out, we weren’t too far off. The actual impression number for frequency caps on Text Ads is 20. Now that is per campaign, per member, and that’s every 24 hours. And they can only show one impression every 30 seconds. No faster than that. So notice that this explicitly says it’s per campaign. So if you want really high frequency on those active desktop users, you can launch multiple text ad campaigns targeting the same audience, and you could potentially show even more often than that if you wanted to. They get looked at so rarely, they have such low click through rates. I don’t see people getting really annoyed by these, but again, there’s a line that you might need to make sure that you’re watching and not crossing. Okay, so how do we actually utilize this knowledge and get better performance? I think the very best thing that you can do is pay attention to your frequency. Track your click through rate over time, because when click through rate starts to drop off, that’s the best indicator of an audience beginning to saturate and showing lack of interest in my ads. So, look at what that frequency number is as you notice your performance start to decline. You can see this frequency number in Campaign Manager by whenever you’re looking at your ads or campaigns. You go to columns and select delivery and it’ll show you your average frequency number in your campaign or ad, depending on which level you’re looking at. Now realize that because of changes that LinkedIn made late last year or early this year, that I don’t think were good for advertisers. The frequency number is just an average from a block of time in the past and it’s not accurate. So use it directionally and realize it’s not perfect, it’s not gospel. Even LinkedIn in their little help bubble says use this metric directionally, and we don’t recommend using it for historic performance comparisons. So watch and see for each general audience what that frequency is, and when performance starts to decline. And if you don’t see a decline, test adding another ad or two into your campaign to increase the possible ad impressions that that audience can receive, and see if that affects your click through rate over time. Using this process, it’ll help you know how many ads that you should create and run to that audience. There’s no clean way to tell definitively, it really is like a guess and check kind of thing. Now, we talked earlier about how LinkedIn isn’t the network that most users go to spend their leisure time. Unfortunately, many members only think to come back when they want to update their resume, or accept an odd connection request. You never really know. So, if you treat LinkedIn like your only ad channel, your ads are sitting there waiting for users to come back, and they might only get a touch by your brand once a month, or maybe even longer. Which I don’t think is nearly as helpful to us marketers who are looking to have meaningful interactions with our audience often enough to really stay top of mind. So one tool that we have at our disposal is an often overlooked way of getting more interactions with your audience by reaching them, and that is on other channels. Google has the Google Display Network, or we call it the GDN, which can show ads on all of the websites that have Google AdSense installed. And I’ve heard that this allows advertisers to reach 90 of the web, which is crazy. Now, Meta has Facebook and Instagram, which make up a significant portion of the time spent by audience members on social media. Both of these ad platforms have retargeting abilities. They’re also the top ad platforms in the world with the best technology and innovation.
And they’re also very low cost when you compare that with LinkedIn. So here’s the strategy I recommend. Drive that traffic from LinkedIn where you know that
they are your exact ideal audience because LinkedIn has an absolute monopoly on business targeting. And then once they get to your website, you’re absolutely retargeting them on LinkedIn because you’re obviously a LinkedIn Ads boss, but you’re also retargeting that traffic on both Meta and Google Ads. This allows you to have a much more regular and consistent and more meaningful touches with your ideal target audience, at a massive discount. It’s not uncommon to see $1 per click when ads are performing well across these channels. Whereas on LinkedIn, I mean, again, we might be paying $10 – 16. You might get a bit of a discount for having high click through rates, but even still, it’s a huge discount. I’ve also talked to a lot of advertisers who their boss or their company have, beliefs against any of these channels. Someone might say, we don’t like to advertise on Google, or we don’t like to advertise on Meta. I would say this is really im portant to be running, even if it’s only just retargeting because it’s an opportunity to stay in front of that audience, and it costs next to nothing, especially if you’re spending 50k or less per month on LinkedIn, You’re not going to fill these retargeting audiences up to where they can spend huge amounts. So I highly recommend push against that policy and try to get your ads showing up on both Google and Meta. Not to mention if there are possibilities of using other paid social channels like Snapchat, Quora, Twitter, or X. So lots of different opportunities to have your retargeting hit exactly the right people. If you’re curious about this, go check out the blog post that Eric Jones from B2Linked recently published on our blog. And you’ll see the link to it in the show notes. Eric Jones wrote a whole post about how to retarget your LinkedIn traffic. He even included a hack of how you can retarget only your LinkedIn traffic as opposed to all the other traffic on your website. So don’t miss that one. finally, I think we have to talk about LAN or LinkedIn Audience Network as a way of showing ads to people off of LinkedIn, trying to stay top of mind. Of course, we were really hoping that LAN would be the key for us to be able to reach our ideal LinkedIn audience all around the web. But alas, all of the quality signals seem to point to frowny face emojis. We still haven’t given up hope of LAN working, and we are going to keep testing. One of the LinkedIn Ads Fanatics in our community checked out his LAN traffic by watching screen recordings of it, and he found that a large majority of these visits do exactly the same behavior over and over and over, which tells me it’s bot behavior. We have gotten LAN traffic down to about $.37 per click, so you might be able to make a case for still running it. Knowing that, let’s say, if 80% of the visits are bot traffic, well, you still have 20% of the visits that aren’t. And so it might be worth paying for 10 visits to get 2 real ones because the cost is so low. Some will reach your target audience. It’s likely still cheaper than paying for traffic on LinkedIn. But I will say a giant, your mileage may vary on LAN for right now.
All right, I’ve got the episode resources for you coming right up. So stick around.
Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox. Take it away.
All right, in the show notes, we linked to that Forrester research where you can see about the 17 touches with a brand. We also linked to the Frequency Caps episode, episode 78, so go check that one out. And in the news, we talked about our Website Demographics feature and how that’s going to be going away. We went into a lot of details there on episode 54. So if you’re curious, go listen to that one and see how you can better use this tool before it disappears. And then how you might use it once we’ve used this little workaround of setting up retargeting audiences, for all of your website traffic and then watching your audience in sights there.You’ll definitely see that blog post by Eric Jones about retargeting our, our LinkedIn traffic from Google and Meta. And then if you are looking to learn more about LinkedIn Ads or become an absolute pro, definitely go join us at the fanatics community. That’s fanatics.b2linked.com. You’ll see that link in the show notes as well. For a very low monthly fee, you’ll get access to the whole community of other like minded LinkedIn advertising pros. Plus you’ll get access to all four of our courses that take you from absolute zero all the way to LinkedIn Ads hero. If this is your first time listening, we welcome you. Hit that subscribe button if you want to hear more of this in your ears every week. Like we talked about at the front of the episode, this is the podcast that you should be listening to to transform as a B2B pro. If this is not your first time listening, I would encourage you, please do go and rate and review us on your favorite podcast player. Or, if you don’t have a rating system there, go to Apple Podcasts. That is by far the best way that you can say thank you for us putting together this content, week after week. With any questions, suggestions, or corrections, hit us up at the email address email@example.com. And with that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. I’m cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives