Google Ads vs. LinkedIn Ads for B2B marketing

B2B PPC

Google Ads gets a lot of attention regarding online advertising, but it's not the only ad platform that should be a part of your B2B marketing campaigns. LinkedIn Ads are another excellent tool for B2B lead generation. With hundreds of millions of active users sharing information about themselves and their businesses, LinkedIn is a treasure trove of corporate and demographic data for business-to-business marketing. 

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What is the difference between LinkedIn Ads and Google Ads?

While both LinkedIn Ads and Google Ads utilise a pay-per-click (PPC) model, the way in which you can target audiences on both platforms differs. LinkedIn is focused on targeting chosen professionals in target industries, while Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is based around bidding on search terms which could have been searched by anyone from a CEO to someone researching for their dissertation. As well as Paid Search, Google Ads also includes Display and Video formats, of which more below.

Targeted audiences

Someone may use Google to search for new enterprise CRM software, houseplants, or a mattress that gets delivered directly to their door. This creates a vast potential audience pool for each ad. Whilst careful keyword selection can hone your targeting, due to the lack of audience targeting options on Google Ads for Paid Search, you cannot entirely exclude the possibility of your B2B advertising reaching a non-business consumer.

However, as LinkedIn focuses on targeting business professionals, you can be reasonably sure that your B2B ad will reach professionals in need of work solutions, not home consumers. Additionally, you can build your LinkedIn ad targeting around business-specific demographics like:

  • Company name, company size, and industry
  • University name and field of study
  • Job title and years of experience
  • Inferred professional interests and traits
  • Membership of Groups, e.g. ‘B2B Marketing’

Both advertising platforms allow for retargeting and the use of lookalike audiences. If you find success with a particular ad type and audience group, you can target similar people with the same kind of content. 

User intent

Typically, when a person conducts a Google Search for a product or service, they have an idea of what they need. They have a problem they're interested in solving, even if they do not yet know exactly what the solution is. This need to solve a problem means Google Ads (when used effectively) should perform well in terms of bottom of funnel prospects.

LinkedIn users visit the platform for a variety of reasons that are not related to solving a problem. They may log on to network, send messages to prospects, post a company update, or take a course. You can utilise the business demographic data on LinkedIn profiles to target the right users before they are actively searching for a solution. This makes LinkedIn Ads an excellent choice for the top or middle of your marketing funnel.

Ad Formats and Display Networks

Marketers may use both Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads to place B2B ads on different websites.

Google Ad types

Ads may appear on Google search engine results pages (SERPs), YouTube videos, Gmail inboxes, and third-party websites via the Google Search Network and Display Network. There are over two million places an ad can run through the Display Network, giving your content a considerable reach.

Available Google Ad formats include:

  • Text ads that appear above organic listings on SERPs
  • Responsive ads involving text and images placed on Display Network partner sites
  • Image ads that appear on partner sites and may be static or animated
  • App promotion ads across Google Search and Google Play
  • Video ads that can stand alone or appear as a commercial in other streaming content
  • Product shopping ads that show details about e-commerce products 
  • Call-only ads that connect mobile searchers to your business via phone with one tap

When using Google Ads, you can choose from a mix of ad types and networks through which to display them.

LinkedIn Ad types

LinkedIn's Audience Network offers a similar feature to Google's Display Network, placing native-style ads on various third-party sites. 

When running LinkedIn ads, you can opt from the following ad types:

    • Sponsored content in users' feeds and across the Audience Network
    • Sponsored InMail that appears in user inboxes like a typical direct message
  • Conversation Ads that appear similar to a chatbot in a user inbox
  • Text ads displayed along the right-hand side of a user's screen
  • Dynamic ads that take text ads one step further with name and photo personalisation 

The LinkedIn Audience Network is smaller than Google's Display Network, with thousands rather than millions of partner sites. However, you can apply the same B2B-focused filters to Audience Network ads as you can to ads on LinkedIn's site.

Reporting and analytics

Both Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads show metrics about ad performance, including impressions, clicks, and conversions. However, as Google Ads links directly with Google Analytics, you can easily track website behaviour beyond an ad click with metrics such as pages/session & Avg. Session Duration available. It is possible to track LinkedIn Ads campaigns in Google Analytics as well but it requires a bit more work.

User Demographics

LinkedIn's ads dashboard shows B2B campaign demographics, including the job titles, companies, industries and professional traits of users who interact with your ads. This information is useful for fine-tuning your next LinkedIn advertising campaign for higher conversions. 

You can, of course, obtain demographic data (such as location) about the people who click on your Google Ads, but the information isn't as business-specific and won’t give you the same splits such as job title or company that you can see in Linkedin.

Conversion Tracking

"Conversions" are often thought of in terms of e-commerce sales, particularly in B2C, but can be any action that you have defined as valuable. B2B conversions can include:

  • Requesting a demo
  • Booking a sales call
  • Downloading a whitepaper 
  • Visiting a landing page 
  • Watching a video

You can track any of these conversions via LinkedIn's ads dashboard and Google Analytics. Tracking can be done within LinkedIn by implementing the Linkedin Insights Tag and via Analytics by applying UTM parameters to the end of clickable links within ads. Both forms of tracking are useful to set up for evaluating campaign performance and ultimately the ROI of each B2B ad campaign. 

Pricing

Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads both use an auction-based advertising method, where you compete against other companies for ad space. The company that has the combination of the highest bid and the ad with the highest quality score gets their ad displayed. 

This process happens almost instantaneously and follows the bid strategy you set up when launching your campaign. Paying method is determined by your bid strategy objective, which means you may pay for:

  • Cost per mille (CPM, equal to 1,000 impressions)
  • Cost per click (CPC)
  • Cost per view (CPV)
  • Cost per action (CPA)

When utilising LinkedIn's sponsored messaging feature, you'll pay a cost per send (CPS).

The actual cost per objective varies based on the type of ad you're running, your bid strategy and how competitive your target audience is. Overall, LinkedIn Ads are more expensive than Google Ads. While it's possible to run B2B Google Ad campaigns at less than £2 per click, LinkedIn clicks are likely to cost closer to £6 per click. LinkedIn actually requires that its advertisers set a minimum daily campaign budget of $10 per day, or about £8. 

When you consider that competitive audiences will require a higher Google Ads investment, and LinkedIn can generate high-value leads, the cost between the two platforms narrows.

Ease of use

Both LinkedIn and Google ads platforms offer the option to manually set bid strategies, or have the system handle it automatically. Opting for the automatic option is often best when you're new to PPC advertising and have not yet tested any ads or audiences. Each service walks you through the campaign setup process and provides projections about the kind of reach and return you may see. 

There's still a fair amount of complexity to setting up PPC ad campaigns though, so if you've never done it before, it's useful to have the help of a B2B PPC expert or LinkedIn ads agency

Are LinkedIn Ads worth it? 

As the average cost of a LinkedIn Ad click is often higher than Google Ads and some other social media platforms, you'll want to approach your campaign setup carefully.

LinkedIn boasts a platform of 774 million business decision makers, meaning you have the potential for a very good return on investment if you get your ads in front of the right person. The ability to generate leads with a high lifetime value makes LinkedIn Ads a worthwhile choice for many B2B companies. However, to make the most out of LinkedIn it is important to do everything you can maximise your B2B LinkedIn Ads budget to stretch its results even further. 

Are LinkedIn or Google Ads more effective for B2B marketing?

LinkedIn's rich business demographics make the platform particularly well-suited to B2B advertising with advertisers able to get their ads in front of key decision makers. However, these decision makers might not be in the right stage of the buying cycle to convert.

Google Ads allows advertisers to target keywords suggesting a user is ready to convert but they cannot be sure on the value of the lead making the search.

Therefore, both platforms should make up any serious B2B company’s marketing strategy. A presence on LinkedIn keeping your product top of mind for key businesses combined with a presence of Google Ads to be there when a stakeholder is searching and is ready to convert.

B2B digital marketing is different from promoting products directly to consumers, and you need a partner that understands the difference. At 93x, we specialise in B2B SEO and PPC marketing for tech, software and SaaS companies.. Our team of experienced Google and LinkedIn platform specialists generate high ROI for our clients' campaigns, complete with measurable results in a custom dashboard that shows you exactly what's working — and how.

Learn more about what it's like to work with a LinkedIn advertising agency.

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