LinkedIn bidding can be tricky if you’ve never advertised on the platform before or are not familiar with how Linkedin charges for campaigns. Sometimes the default is to use Automated Bidding, as it claims to deliver more results for your campaign initiative. However, that’s not always the case. In this blog, we will look at the difference between Automated Bidding and LinkedIn’s cost bidding (manual) options, and which strategies you’ll need to consider making the most out of your campaigns.
This blog will focus on three main bidding strategies; however, LinkedIn provides a good overview of other bidding strategies available on the platform.
How Does LinkedIn Bidding Work?
When your ad enters the bid auction, LinkedIn considers the following factors:
- Budget (Daily, Total, or Lifetime). How much are you willing to spend to win bids and reach your targeted audience? The budget is based on how much you are ready to bid when selecting Automated Bidding or cost bidding options for your campaigns.
- Target Audience. What type of users are you trying to reach?
- Campaign Objective. Your overarching goal. Are you trying to drive awareness, clicks to your website, or lead generation?
- Ad Content. This is based on Quality Score. How likely will your target audience resonate & engage with your content? This includes your ad messaging and creative (e.g., image, video, carousel).
- Historical Campaign Performance. How has your campaign performed in the past?
Based on the criteria above, LinkedIn determines who wins the auction against other advertisers bidding similar audiences to you (whether automated or cost bidding). Even if you set your bid higher than other advertisers, LinkedIn sets a second-priced auction. This means if you won the bid auction, you would only pay based on the second-highest bidder. The more auctions you win, the more users will see your ad.
LinkedIn Campaign Bid Types
When you create a LinkedIn campaign, you have an option to select what type of bidding strategy you want to optimize. When you set your bid and optimization goal, this tells the algorithm how you would like your budget spent and what goal to optimize towards to get your desired results. You are being billed for clicks, impressions, or video views, depending on your bidding method. However, not all bid types are available across every campaign objective.
Automated Bidding (Uses CPM)
This method uses CPM bidding and will charge you for every 1,000 impressions. In this scenario, the advertiser allows the algorithm to set bids without setting a maximum bid cost limit. Sometimes, depending on the competition, your costs can fluctuate.
Maximum CPC Bidding
This method allows advertisers to control their costs and set bid amounts to the maximum amount they are willing to spend. When selecting this method, this informs the algorithm you want to maximize click volume, and only pay when a user clicks on your ad.
Enhanced CPC Bidding
This method is only available for campaign objectives such as website visits, conversions, lead generation, or engagement. In this bidding strategy, the algorithm will deliver your ads to users who are more likely to convert based on your selected campaign objective.
Note: the only difference between maximum CPC and Enhanced CPC bidding is when choosing campaign objectives such as Website Visits, Conversions, or Lead Generation, it will optimize the objective you set for your campaigns. For example, when you set your campaign objective to Website Visits and set your bids to Enhanced CPC, the algorithm will auto-optimize your bids towards users who are more likely to click on your ad.
This method allows advertisers to control their CPM bids per 1,000 impressions, rather than having LinkedIn set your bids for you. This method is great if you want to increase product visibility and/or brand awareness with your marketing campaign.
LinkedIn Bidding Best Practices
This section will focus on tips, tricks, and when you should use each bidding strategy below. However, before we dive in, one of the key aspects of winning bid auctions is making sure that your target audience resonates with your ad creative. With that being said, a best practice is to test at least two to four ad variations (depending on your budget) to increase performance and win more auctions. Regardless of what you set your bids at, LinkedIn’s algorithm will show your highest performing ad to users. This is why it is crucial to test ad variations to avoid missed opportunities.
When to Use An Automated Bidding Strategy
A new campaign launch. If you are launching a new campaign without any historical campaign performance, Automated Bidding allows LinkedIn to bid for you according to your campaign objective and how much budget you are willing to spend based on what you set (daily, total, or lifetime).
To gain more visibility. Automated Bidding will serve ads to as many people as possible based on your forecasted audience size. Choose this method when you are looking to gain more views on your ads. As I mentioned previously, Automated Bidding charges by impressions.
Your budget is spending at least 85% daily. LinkedIn averages daily spend based on a seven-day period. With this calculation, if you’re optimizing towards an Automated Bidding method, this is a great way to determine if your budget is spending at or less than 85%.
When to Use A Cost Bidding Strategy
If you are more concerned about spending your full budget or costs, choose manual CPC/CPM bidding to control those costs.
Your audience size is less than 50K. When your campaign forecast reaches less than 50K audience members, focus on CPC or CPM bidding to control cost. When your audience size is small, costs tend to be more expensive, especially if the audience is in high demand. Therefore it is best to set a cap on bids, so your campaign costs don’t increase excessively.
Your daily budget is spending less than 85%. If you’re optimizing towards an automated bid, but your campaign is not delivering 85% of its budget, this means that the bid is not competitive enough. Based on your objective, set your bid to either Maximum CPC, Enhanced CPC, or CPM bidding to control your cost and become more competitive with your bids.
Your CPC or CPM costs are too high. If you’re using an Automated Bidding strategy and find that your costs are too high, manually setting your bids will control your costs and only drive quality traffic based on your limited budget.
To drive quality traffic. If you are more focused on driving higher-quality traffic, setting your manual CPC or CPM bids will help you control costs, and you won’t be charged any amount higher than the bid you set.
LinkedIn’s Recommended Bid
When setting cost bids for your campaigns, LinkedIn shows the recommended bid amount based on your budget and the range of bid amounts that similar advertisers are bidding on for your target audience.
If you set your bids lower than LinkedIn’s recommendation, your campaigns may underdeliver. This means that LinkedIn will show your ad to only a few members, as other advertisers will almost always outbid you. Additionally, a lower bid will mean that you will not receive enough results and data to optimize your bidding accordingly. I always suggest bidding a dollar more than the recommended bid.
In Other Words
Like advertising on any other platform, you want to choose a LinkedIn bidding method that you believe will drive better performance for your campaigns. The key to success is making sure that your bids are competitive based on the budget you set. In doing this, check your campaigns on a daily/weekly basis as costs tend to fluctuate based on the bids being placed in the auctions. Lastly, to make yourself competitive in the bid amount you set for your campaigns, remember to test ad variations, targeting the right audience, selecting the right campaign objective, and setting enough budget for your social media campaigns to run efficiently.