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Job Title Targeting Nuances

Workplace Learning Report

In-Demand Skills

Civil Rights Day (MLK Day) Ads Analysis

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Show Transcript

Did you know that the LinkedIn Ads definition for a video view is different from LinkedIn organic definition, or that a senior seniority isn’t very senior at all? We’re covering 11 things on LinkedIn Ads that don’t mean what you think they mean, 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! The LinkedIn Ads platform continues to evolve. It’s really coming into its own as a tier one channel, truly ungrateful. That being said, there are still several areas of the platform where LinkedIn’s definition of something is not going to match up with your likely definition of that same something. In today’s episode, we’re going through the 11 areas to be on the lookout for so you can make sure that metrics and campaign manager don’t lead you astray.

First in the news, LinkedIn recently came out with their workplace learning report. And it’s actually based on LinkedIn Learning. And you’ll find the link below in the show notes. It was actually a really complete report. And I read through it, and the one conclusion I came to is surprise, we’re in a fast paced industry, and we need to keep learning and growing to stay ahead. The good news is, if you’re listening to this podcast right now, which you obviously are, it means you likely already understand this. So I congratulate you for being in the top 1%. LinkedIn also released their 2023 most in demand skills. And this is based on skills that people are looking for in their job postings, and probably also based off of the skills that people have in their profiles that only LinkedIn has access to. And again, really no surprise here, they mentioned that things like social media as a skill are in demand. The problem with the skills on LinkedIn is that so many of them are so broad, that I don’t even find them valuable to draw trends from, let me know if I’m off base and you disagree. But check out the report, as I’ve linked to it in the show notes as well. Also continuing from the popularity of our analysis around the holidays here in the US, we just published an analysis of ad performance around Civil Rights Day, or Martin Luther King Day here in the US. And that’s live on the blog right now. Go check it out if you want to see the trends. And as a sneak peak, Superbowl and Valentine’s Day are also coming up. So stay tuned. I want to highlight one of the reviews. It was left by the user name Giugiugiu. And they say, “AJ is probably the best LinkedIn Ads expert on the market. I attended one of his workshops in Boston a couple of years ago and I was in aw. I finally found someone who knows how this tool works. He’s funny and very good in explaining all the functionalities. Absolutely the go to resource if you’re starting with LinkedIn Ads. Thanks, AJ for sharing your knowledge.” Well Giugiugiu. I wish I knew who you were. So I can thank you specifically. But I really appreciate the super kind review here, me and my whole team, we try so hard to explain the functionality very simply, and so grateful we can be a resource to you. A huge thank you to everyone who’s been reviewing the podcast lately. It’s really picked up aand I really, really appreciate. And if you haven’t left a review yet, please do it. I want to feature you live here on the podcast. Alright, without further ado, let’s hit it.

Like we talked about in the intro, we’re talking about the discrepancies that you might find in the platform today. So let’s say that there’s a discrepancy in the platform. Why does this actually matter? Why do you actually need to know about these discrepancies? I think it’s really important to know what you’re actually reporting on. You obviously want to make decisions with accurate data so that they’re the right decision. You also want to have confidence in your data. That way you can defend it if you’re challenged. An example that I come across really often in digital marketing is the bounce rate in Google Analytics, because it doesn’t mean what you think it means, unless you’ve actually done like the Google Analytics training courses. I don’t know if the definition has changed for Google Analytics 4 that’s rollout. But with Universal Analytics, a bounce just meant that they didn’t go to another page. So if you’re sending someone to a landing page where the whole goal is to get them to convert, then it actually makes a lot of sense that you have a 95% bounce rate. I want you to be able to digest accurate information, because you’re actually using this data to go make decisions. It’s not good business to be heading the wrong direction at anytime. So now that we’re in agreeance, that this is actually important stuff, let’s jump into the first one we have.

Sponsored Messaging Ad Formats under Performance
So sponsored messaging ad formats, if you’re under the default look for performance, you really can’t trust much of the data there. Anything relying on a click is just totally boldface wrong. If you listen to episode 79 about the B2Believe event that happened in November, you know that LinkedIn announced some big changes in Q2 2023. So this may or may not be relevant in the future, but I’m guessing it is, I’m guessing this is still going to be an issue. So if you’re looking under performance, if you look at your clicks, as well as your cost per click, and your click through rate, it’s actually calling an open a click. So you might look at your sponsored messaging and say, wow, we have a 55% click through rate and our cost per click is less than $1. I hear this a lot and tend to just shake my head, because definitely, that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is they’re measuring your open rate and your cost per open, which isn’t very valuable if you ask me because people will open it just to mark it as read. But a valuable definition for a click to me is actually someone taking action on the ad. That means clicking on some sort of a call to action that I’ve given. The simple solution here is under the performance column. Look under sponsored messaging. There, it actually breaks out your sends, your opens, and your clicks, and gives you the proper metrics. So this is one that’s actually more or less been fixed, if you’re looking under the right column’s breakdown.

Conversion Column
Another one that we come across really often is you’re looking at the conversions column, trying to decide your cost per conversion, or your conversion rate and decide if that’s good or not. It’s very important to understand that the conversions column should actually be called total conversions. Because it’s not just conversions, it’s made up of your click through conversions, which is great. That’s exactly what you want. But it also includes your view through conversions, which, depending on your campaign, depending on the other channels you’re running may or may not be conversions that you actually want to attribute to your LinkedIn Ads. The solution here then is to go to the columns drop down and select conversions and leads. You’ll of course, see the conversions column, but right next to it, you’ll see your click conversions and your view conversions. So when I’m taking my data and doing an analysis, I’m gonna throw this data into Excel. And then I get to decide which column I actually care about. And most of the time, I’m going to use my click conversions column, instead of just my conversions column. As an agency, I would be so embarrassed to go to a client and tell them that yeah, we had 10 conversions when they look in their CRM and see that there’s only four. And then I look like I’m lying.

Clicks Column
The next one is somewhat related. And that’s just looking at your clicks column. Because the click metric actually changes as your objective changes, I think it should be called chargeable clicks. If you’re using the objective of engagement, the definition of a click is any click that happened on that app. So if someone hits like on your ad, or clicks to go see your company page, all of those are going to be called clicks. But if you’re using the website conversions objective, a click is actually a lot more indicative of what’s happening, because that was someone who clicked on your call to action that took them to your external landing page. If your objective is lead generation, just like engagement, you’ll notice that any click on your ad becomes a chargeable click. And these tend to go unnoticed because they have such a high conversion rate. But you really should know. And that means that if you go and look at your cost per click metric, and your click through rate metric, they’re affected the same way as well. So if you’re looking at multiple campaigns that have more than one objective, your metrics are definitely being skewed, it’s almost like you have to look at the metrics for each objective separately. When I get this data to a spreadsheet, I choose one metric to unify all of my definitions. So instead of just using the clicks column, I like to use landing page clicks. And you can find this under the engagement column drop down. Inside of campaign manager, it’s called clicks the landing page. And of course, it’s just another column when you do an export to Excel. But when you’re looking at the engagement drop down, you’ll see that there’s one called other clicks. We don’t know everything that counts as an other click because you’ll see a lot of other types of clicks there that have their own columns. But most of the time, it’s when you have an ad that has the …see more at the end, because your text was truncated for being too long. Other clicks is someone extending that. All right, here’s a quick sponsor break, and then we’ll dive into more discrepancy.

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Video Views
All right, let’s jump into video metrics because there’s a lot interesting here. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the episode, the organic definition and the ads definition for a video view, are very different. If you post a video either from your company page or personally, and then you look at the views that have racked up, a view as anyone who watched at least three seconds of that video. But the definition for a view in Ads is two seconds with 50% of that video on the screen. And if you’re curious why the definition for ads is shorter, realize that when you’re bidding by video view, LinkedIn only gets paid when someone counts as a view, hence why they’d want to make it 33% shorter.

Video Completion Percentages
And then how about the definition for video completions because this is something that has been changed very recently. If you’re looking at the formula for a 100% completion rate of your video, that’s calculated using your completes divided by your starts. This means anytime the video started, whether it made it to two seconds or not. So of course, it would make sense that your view rate is going to be your views divided by starts. Well, it’s definitely not your view rate is views divided by impressions. To see how much this is actually affecting you, go compare your impressions to your views and your starts. And you’ll see sometimes this can make a really big difference.

Organic Stats
Another one dealing with the organic stats, you may or may not already know this, but when you post something that’s not a video, your posts show the number of impressions that that post got, that means the number of times it showed up in someone’s newsfeed. But anytime that you post video, it shows views which are very different. Like I said, go compare your impressions to your views, you might find that one video gets one view for every four impressions, you might find another one gets one view for every one impression. So they can be very different.

Forecasted Results Column
How about as you’re actually building a campaign, you’ll notice over in the right hand column, there’s a section called forecasted results. We actually had a client recently who was upset that their results didn’t match the forecasted results. So I think this is really important to point out some people are looking at these like their gospel. What you need to understand about the forecasted results column is that these numbers are not based on your performance. They’re based on your bid and your budget, your optimization goal, and your audience size. But because they don’t actually take your performance into account, it’s wildly inaccurate. I’ll give you an example. If you know that when you launch ads, you get click through rates that are like 1.5%, you’ll look at those forecasted results and they’ll say, oh, we expect that you’re gonna get a click through rate between .45% and .6%. But if you have a click through rate, that’s more than double what they’re predicting, you’ll likely get cost per click way lower, and you’ll likely get served a lot more than what they’re predicting. It really needs to take into account your performance before giving you forecasted results. Plus, as we were playing with it, we found that it was blatantly wrong in several cases. The example that we looked at, it was predicting that cost per click would be lower when bidding by impression than it would have if we were bidding by click. It showed an expected click through rate of .45% to .6%, which is not in the range where bidding by impressions would be cheaper. So there’s some bad math going on here behind the scenes. I do hope that someone from LinkedIn will look into that. But as a reminder, don’t bank on these figures. They’re not based on your performance, or your audience. These are simply something to let you know what you might expect, probably for the most basic brand new advertisers.

Rotate Ads Evenly
Alright, let’s talk about rotate ads evenly. Because in theory, it sounds really interesting. For me, I love AB tests. I love to test things. And to get an accurate AB test, you really need to have both test versions shown about the same amount of times. So of course, when you’re editing the campaign, and you’re on the ads page, when you see that little cog and you click it and it asks you if you want to rotate your ads evenly or optimize for performance. If you’re like me, naturally you’ll want to say oh yeah, I do want to rotate my ads evenly. There’s a major reason why you don’t want to do that. I call this the charge me more and show me less button. Here’s why it acts like that. When it says it’s going to rotate your ads evenly, it’s not showing your ads evenly, it’s entering them evenly into the auction. And here’s the big difference. Each of those ads gets its own relevancy score from LinkedIn. And LinkedIn won’t tell you what the relevancy score is. The only indication you get is at the campaign level from a campaigns report. So let’s imagine that one of your ads has a relevancy score of four, and the other one has a relevancy score of six. If you select the option for rotate ads evenly, you’re forcing both of those ads to go into the auction in even number of times. But the ad that has a relevancy score of six is going to win more auctions at a cheaper price. And when you’re forcing the ad into the auction, that only has a relevancy score of four, it’s going to lose more auctions, and when it does when it’s going to have a higher cost associated with. So the net effect here is that when you are running this option, you’ll notice your overall costs per click will rise. And your overall impressions will fall. For years, LinkedIn have talked about a new tool that they’re going to come out with, but I think they’re going to call like the AB testing tool or something. And I do hope this solves the issue here because we don’t want to mess with the auction. What we want to do is show our ads evenly so that we can get accurate tests. So I do expect that we’ll be able to have some sort of a solution for this in the future.

Senior Seniority
The next discrepancy here is in seniorities. You’ll notice that there’s a seniority called senior seniority. And people tend to think that this means like an executive, maybe in job titles like senior vice president or senior manager. But according to LinkedIn, that’s not what senior means. It actually means individual contributor. This is someone who manages projects and things, but not people. And of course, LinkedIn doesn’t actually know who is managing people and who’s not. But they try to deduce this from job titles. In a past episode, we mentioned that dentists show up under the senior seniority, which I think is crazy. I remember I spent millions of dollars on the LinkedIn Ads platform, targeting the senior seniority, along with VPs, and C level before I ever realized. So take my learnings and go and save yourself some time and headache.

Super Titles
Now, we mentioned this next one, on the job titles episode, when you’re targeting a job title, you may be targeting a lot more than what you think you are. The way that this works is something called super titles. Titles on LinkedIn are a free form field. So people can go and write whatever they want. You can give yourself a cutesy title or a really standard one. And then to make this a useful feature for advertisers, LinkedIn then has to go and collect all of the job titles out there and stick them into buckets of common groupings that you might type to target a group of these people. And then they take it a step further by aggregating similar titles into something called super title. And the reason I think that this happens is it might not be a great user experience, if you went into job title, and had to select 50 or 60, similar titles to get who it is you want. They want you to select 2, 3, 4, 5, whatever, and then feel like you’ve accurately covered that audience. There are definitely some glitches, though, and how this works. I mentioned this back on Episode 60, all about job titles. But we noticed that if you target the Chief Marketing Officer job title, it’s also going to include Marketing Consultant, job titles as well aand you can’t exclude it. Because if you’re targeting CMOS, and you do an exclusion of marketing consultant, job titles, your audience size drops to zero.

Company Size Targeting
All right, next, let’s talk about company size targeting. What you need to understand is when you are targeting by company size, you’re only targeting by known company size. What that means is, if you’re targeting by company size, let’s say 11 through 50, the only people who can show up in there are those who are associated with a company who has gone and declared that it is size 11 through 50. And you may have noticed that there’s a lot of people on LinkedIn who either aren’t associated with a company page, maybe they wrote the company name in their company, but it’s not attached to a page so it just shows up as a little like gray building as a logo. It means those people will not be part of this targeting. And the way this will rear it’s ugly head is if you ever tried to use company size targeting as an exclusion, you’ll be very, very surprised. Let’s say you want to exclude small companies. So you exclude myself only through maybe 10 employees. What that’s going to do, LinkedIn is going to go out and obviously try to target those that are 11 and higher, but it’s also going to be targeting all the unknowns. The people who represent companies that don’t have a company page, which usually tend to be smaller companies. So, you went in thinking that you were going to exclude small companies, and you ended up getting even smaller companies as part of your target. So unless you have a great reason for wanting the unknowns to be targeted, you don’t want to use company size for exclusions. They’re only for inclusions. Are you aware of any discrepancies that I might have missed here? Let us know by emailing us at and I’ll make sure to include your feedback here in the next episode. 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, if you look down in the show notes below, you’ll see links to these resources. Episode 60, where we talk about the nuances of job titles, that episode is definitely worth listening to. You’ll also see a link to the workplace learning report that we talked about in the news section, as well as the in demand skills report. If you’re hiring, or even trying to just improve where you are in your career, it might be worth checking those out, making sure you’re making strides on those in demand skills. I mentioned the analysis that we did based on Civil Rights Day, or Martin Luther King Day here in the US to go read that on the B2Linked blog. If you or anyone else is looking to learn about LinkedIn Ads for the first time, go and check out the course that I did on LinkedIn Learning. You’ll notice the link down below and it’s by far the lowest cost and the highest quality course you’ll find about LinkedIn Ads. If this is your first time listening, please hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss the next episode. But if this is not your first time listening, please do consider going to rate and review the podcast. This is the very best way that you can support us and say a big thank you for the hours and hours and hours that we put into this show. With any questions, suggestions or corrections reach out to us at And with that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. Cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.