LinkedIn Campaign Manager offers a variety of bidding methods and, even for an experienced user, it can be difficult to determine the best bidding approach for your objective. Today, we’ll discuss why bidding CPC should be your go-to bidding strategy 90% of the time.


The Bidding Basics


LinkedIn offers a variety of ad types and five different bidding methods. They include:


  • Cost per Click (CPC)
  • Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM)
  • Cost per Send (Sponsored Messaging formats only)
  • Cost per View (CPV; Video Ad format only)
  • Maximum Delivery (previously known as automated bidding)


For the purpose of this post, we’ll discuss strategies specific to the most simple ad format: single image sponsored content. LinkedIn offers three bid types for single image sponsored content ads: CPC, CPM, and maximum delivery.

Let’s start with the basics of each single image sponsored content bidding method. CPC stands for cost-per-click. With CPC bidding, you only pay when someone takes a specific action on your ad; this can be a click to a landing page, lead form open, or other action. However, it does not charge you for any engagement-type actions such as likes, comments, shares, company page follows, etc, if your campaign objective is Website Visits. You pay for these types of clicks if your selected objective is Engagement.

CPC can also be segmented into two bidding options when running single image sponsored content ads: target cost and manual bidding. Target cost bidding allows you to set a bid while still giving LinkedIn some amount of control. By selecting this bidding option, LinkedIn will try to stay near the bid amount you specified, but will exceed that amount if presented with the opportunity to get ads in front of a higher-value click.

From our own experience, we’ve seen target cost bidding result in the same click volume as manual bidding, but higher costs per click. For this reason, we recommend sticking with manual bidding, as we’ve consistently seen this option generate click volume at lower costs in comparison. For more on target cost bidding, check out this blog post.

It’s also worth noting that the manual bidding option is hidden when creating a campaign. By clicking the “Show additional options” dropdown below the target cost bidding option, the manual bidding option will be made visible.




CPM stands for cost-per-mille, which in advertising terms means cost-per-thousand impressions. This bidding strategy means that LinkedIn won’t charge you more than your bid for every 1,000 times your ad is shown.

Maximum delivery is really just another version of CPM bidding. With this strategy, you’re still paying based on every 1,000 impressions, but LinkedIn does all the bidding and adjustments for you. You don’t get to set your bid, but it’s an easy option because LinkedIn does all the bidding leg work by trying to maximize for your selected objective. It’s also worth noting here that your bid will be adjusted accordingly depending on your budget. If your campaigns are spending minimally each day ($10, as an example), then LinkedIn will optimize towards bidding lower. But if your daily budgets are high (such as $1,000 per day), then LinkedIn is going to optimize towards higher bids in order to spend your full budget.

So, which of all the bidding options is best for you? 9 out of 10 times, the answer is manual CPC bidding. Let’s break it down and see what makes cost-per-click bidding a superior method for most advertisers.



Make Your Impressions Matter


One of the greatest benefits of CPC bidding is that you only ever pay when someone you’re targeting chooses to click on your ad. This means you’re only charged when you get something in return, like a website visit or other informative interaction. With CPC, there’s a good chance that the clicks you paid for resulted from your audience’s interest in what you are offering. This means you’re only paying for the impressions that really matter.

With CPM bidding, advertisers pay by impressions – even if every one of those impressions are a result of your ad barely flashing across the user’s screen as they quickly scroll through their feed. Even if your target audience isn’t interested and clicking on your ad, you’re having to pay for their impressions.


Keep Costs Low


The majority of the time, this means that CPC bidding is cheaper than CPM or maximum delivery. Though, if you have a CTR significantly higher than the average, then you can actually lower costs by bidding by impressions in this case. An average CTR for single image sponsored content ads is 0.4%. So if you were seeing an average CTR of 1.6%, for example, then you could confidently pivot to bidding by impressions and it would be much more cost effective.

If your CTRs are not significantly above average, then you would be paying more per click by bidding on impressions than if you were to bid manual CPC.


Know Where to Start


When bidding CPC, be careful not to immediately accept LinkedIn’s bid recommendations. Oftentimes, the recommended bid is much higher than needed to win the auctions and have your ad shown. Best practice with CPC bidding is to start your bids low (significantly lower than LinkedIn’s recommended range) and incrementally increase them until they are consistently winning their auctions and spending their full budgets each day. This process will help you see which campaigns naturally perform better than others (which leads to more efficient budget allocation in the future too). It also keeps costs way down compared to LinkedIn’s bidding recommendations.

By choosing the right bidding method, you can improve campaign efficiency and lower costs. Have you tried bidding CPC vs bidding by impressions? What has your experience been? Comment below!


Written by Shannon Bloom