Allison Thomas

Allison Thomas

LinkedIn and Google are both dominant forces in the ads industry. Both of them have a well-solidified ad network, and they both certainly have a hyper-valuable audience that’s more than ready to purchase. But which one should you emphasize?

As businesses around the globe prepare their new post-crisis marketing budgets, figuring out which digital channels your products or services should be on is a huge decision.

Here’s how you should split that juicy budget between Google and LinkedIn.

LINKEDIN VS. GOOGLE ADS: A WAR OF GIANTS

Google vs. LinkedIn is an apples and oranges debate. Both platforms are massively valuable, but they each have unique selling points that attract marketers chasing different campaign types. LinkedIn is a who’s who of business leaders and executives. Case in point, LinkedIn has 500 million users — 61 million of which are senior-level influencers. Google, on the other hand, has a hodgepodge of ad architecture under its wing, and ads run on Google’s network reach Google searchers, YouTube viewers, and website addicts — for a total of billion of users.

So when you’re looking to split up your budget between these two giants, figuring out where to shove those extra dollars can be difficult. Should you go all-in on Google’s massive user base and intent-driven searches? Or should you be vying for those decision-makers and senior execs who are hungry for large purchases?

Before we answer that, let’s look at some basic pros and cons between the two ad networks.

GOOGLE PROS:

  • Google has a well-rounded ad network that has been stable and feature-rich for years. Google is mature, capable of performing complex retargeting campaigns, and has a well-tuned algorithm that helps stretch your ad dollar as far as possible.
  • Google has an incredibly expansive ad network that touches over 90% of the internet, including Google search, Google Maps, Google Shopping, AdWords display network, YouTube, Blogger, Gmail, and more.

GOOGLE CONS:

  • Google is a hyper-competitive ad marketplace that can have extremely high CPC depending on your keywords.
  • Google Ads require search volume — making it less than ideal for companies who deal with new concepts and disruptive offerings.

LINKEDIN PROS

  • LinkedIn is packed with business leaders and senior-level decision-makers.
  • LinkedIn’s social media language is professional and tailored to business leaders who want to engage, spend, and consume industry-specific content.

LINKEDIN CONS

  • You are only reaching 500 million consumers instead of billions.
  • LinkedIn’s ad network is less mature than Google’s, and it doesn’t offer as many unique ad options.

Obviously, you want to run ads across both platforms. But which one should you emphasize?

CHOOSING BETWEEN LINKEDIN AND GOOGLE

AJ Wilcox over at B2Linked suggests that you use the lead qualification model called “BANT,” which stands for:

  • Budget: Does the person have the budget to make a purchase?
  • BAuthority: Does the person have the authority to make a purchase?
  • BNeed: Does the person really need my product or service?
  • BTiming: Is it the right time for the person to buy my product? If so, when are they going to buy it? Is it going to be in days, weeks, months, or even years?

All four of these qualifications are essential for businesses. That being said, budget and authority may be less valuable to a B2C company, since authority may not be an issue and your products may be priced low enough to virtually eliminate budget as a constraint. For B2B businesses, on the other hand, timing may not be as much of an issue — since you may operate on large purchases that require significant nurturing.

Google is excellent for Need and Timing. Google’s intent-driven search engine paired with its well-oiled ad framework is fantastic at displaying ads to people at the right time. After all, they are actively searching for something similar to your product or service. But Google is terrible at Budget and Authority. You have no idea if the people viewing your ad are decision-makers with the liquidity to purchase your goods.

LinkedIn is the opposite. Since you’re running ads on LinkedIn to target specific groups of people via firmographics, you can almost always reach the right senior-level decision-makers with big pockets. But you can’t tell if they have an immediate need for your product or if they are ready to purchase your product within a specified timeframe.

In a nutshell:

  • Google is spectacular at delivering intent-driven consumers to your ads. They have a high need for your products or services, and they want them relatively soon. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be purposefully searching for them.
  • LinkedIn is the best ad platform for finding decision-makers who have high purchase authority and liquidity, but you don’t know if they need your product or if they’re currently looking to purchase.
  • Google ads typically result in more purchases. LinkedIn ads usually result in larger purchases.

WHAT SHOULD YOUR BUDGET SPLIT LOOK LIKE?

It depends. If you’re a B2B company that needs decision-makers to pull the trigger on larger investments, emphasizing LinkedIn in your budget spread usually makes the most sense. After all, you can specifically target them instead of dropping your ads in an ocean of users. However, if you’re a B2C company looking to move product, Google is often a better choice — since you can move products faster.

Of course, B2B businesses can dominate on Google, and B2C companies can find an ocean of new users on LinkedIn. In fact, it can actually be a smart strategy to reverse the above advice if your ads are underperforming. B2B businesses that are struggling to convince their target audience on LinkedIn may have more luck on Google, since they can capture that intent. And B2C companies may be able to find an entirely new base of customers in a less competitive environment on LinkedIn — since most businesses investing in LinkedIn’s ad network are B2B.

We heavily recommend that marketers do due diligence and run A/B tests across campaigns to find the right budget mixes. It may make sense to emphasize one platform over the other initially (i.e., a 60/40 or 70/30 split). But if you aren’t performing well, switching your campaign budget mix across platforms can bring significant value.

Tip: We recommend that B2B businesses start with a 60/40 LinkedIn to Google split. And we recommend that B2C businesses start with a 20/80 LinkedIn to Google split.

It may seem strange to push B2C businesses to advertise on LinkedIn. And it may seem equally strange to recommend B2B businesses invest a little less than half of their entire budget on Google. But don’t worry! We have good reasons.

For B2B businesses, Google presents itself as an amazing way to get significant intent-driven searches. This can help pad your wallets with the lowest-hanging fruit while you nurture the bigger clients. B2C brands can also find some crazy good value in LinkedIn. The cost-per-lead is significantly cheaper, and you can reach an audience that’s used to being served up ads about the “next best” SaaS solution. You’ll be their breath of fresh air.

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. It’s perfectly reasonable to give emphasis to one platform over the other. But don’t discount Google or LinkedIn. They’re both popular, ad-friendly digital platforms that can help you score leads. 

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