We’ve seen a couple of cases recently where LinkedIn advertisers have seen incredible early success leveraging the Brand Awareness campaign objective.
So we decided to put this objective to the test.
Before running this objective, we were running the Website Visits objective pretty successfully, so we’ll be comparing these two in particular.
Brand Awareness is a LinkedIn Ad objective we’ve always discouraged. The reason why is in the concept of the objective itself. When I run the Website Visits objective and optimize for clicks, I know that the system is going to attempt to show my ads to those who are most likely to click.
On the other hand, with the Brand Awareness objective, the only two options you have for optimization is visibility (impressions and reach). In other words, you’re telling LinkedIn how you’d like your ads delivered, but we wouldn’t call this an “optimization”. Not in the way we view clicks as an optimization on a Website Visits campaign, anyway. The platform has no data to “optimize” on when it’s simply showing your ads to anyone and everyone in your target audience. Since this is the terminology LinkedIn uses, however, we’ll continue to refer to it as an optimization.
But more than that, optimizing your LinkedIn Ads for visibility tends to be more expensive than bidding for clicks (more on this later). Regardless of objective, our goal has always been to adjust our bidding strategy so that we’re paying less for our traffic on LinkedIn. Since the Brand Awareness objective doesn’t allow for that, we’re basically handcuffed into the type of bidding that results in us paying more for our traffic 90% of the time.
So again, in the majority of cases, we’d discourage using this objective. But that’s just it—In the majority of cases, you might want to steer clear, but not in all cases.
So when is it appropriate, recommended even, to use the Brand Awareness objective? Let’s talk about it.
As alluded to earlier, bidding by clicks tends to beat bidding by impressions 90% of the time. That’s why we often recommend using the Website Visits, Engagement, or Lead Generation objectives, if you’re just starting on LinkedIn Ads. Doing so is usually more cost efficient and gives you more control over your bidding.
The reason for this is because bidding by impressions allows LinkedIn to show your ads to anyone within your target audience, regardless of whether anyone clicks, and charges you for it. Unless you have a CTR well above LinkedIn’s average, this will result in high costs and low volume.
But the Brand Awareness objective is unique in that it’s the only one that allows you to optimize for reach, in addition to impressions.
This is significant because you can optimize towards more unique users seeing your ads rather than just a handful of users seeing your ads multiple times. Now, don’t misunderstand. We certainly want our ads to be seen multiple times by the same user (otherwise known as ad frequency), but we also want as many as possible within our total addressable market to see and engage with our ads. Optimizing for reach gives us the flexibility to do both.
As beneficial as this is to advertisers, there’s still one problem: whether you’re optimizing your ads towards reach or impressions, they’re still distributed in the same way.
Maximum Delivery (otherwise known as Automated) bidding is your only option when optimizing for reach. When optimizing for impressions, you get the option to bid manually in addition to Maximum Delivery, but both options are still ineffective unless you have a CTR well above LinkedIn’s average.
This brings us back to our initial question: When is it optimal to use the Brand Awareness objective? Well, here’s what we’ve found…
The Strategy Behind Brand Awareness
In the couple cases we saw where advertisers were successful in using the Brand Awareness objective, we noticed that they both had relatively high CTRs.
Without any additional details, we can only assume that these advertisers were lucky in striking a chord with their audience on the first try (we, unfortunately, did not), but there’s a valuable lesson we can learn here about how to strategically leverage the Brand Awareness objective.
It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get a high CTR on your LinkedIn Ads using this objective on your first try. So instead, test the relevance of your ads to your target audience by running them through a Website Visits objective first.
If you find that your ads are generating a high CTR and low CPCs, recreate those same campaigns and ads, but switch to the Brand Awareness objective. Then optimize for reach. This will ensure your ads are shown to more unique members and are likely to generate a high level of engagement because you’ve already tested and confirmed that to be true.
Other Use Cases
With all of this said, if your goal is to generate clicks on the platform, this can be an excellent strategy. But if your goal is simply visibility, using the Brand Awareness objective and optimizing for reach is a great alternative, especially if you’re not worried about metrics like CTR and CPC. You’ll spend your budget and your ads will be shown to those in your target audience, regardless of whether or not they click.
There are still options here for doing this as part of a holistic LinkedIn Ads strategy. For example, if you’re running Video Ads, you can still retarget those who watch a certain percentage of your video—they don’t even need to click the ad. This kind of tactic could work well, if all you’re aiming for is extended visibility, but still want to build an audience to further nurture and educate later.
But what’s your experience been? Have you seen success using the Brand Awareness objective? What was your strategy like? Why did it work? Comment below!
And if you want to get more sales opportunities with your ideal prospects but don’t have the time or motivation to manage LinkedIn Ads yourself, book a discovery call today. We’ll help you build, execute, and manage a LinkedIn Ads strategy custom-tailored to your unique needs.
Written by Eric Jones