LinkedIn Ads vs. Google Ads: Which is Better for B2B Marketing?
To Google or to LinkedIn? That is the [marketer’s existential] question.
But seriously, which one should you choose for your B2B marketing strategy? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple. Each advertising platform has its unique features and capabilities, but both aren’t always suited for the same ad campaign.
In this article, we’ll go over what Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads are, how they work, and the pros and cons of each.
Table of Contents
What is Google Ads?
Google Ads is an online advertising platform that is developed by Google and uses the Google search engine platform. With Google Ads, advertisers bid to display brief ads, offerings, product listing, or other content to users.
Google Ads can place ads both in search engine results pages (SERPs) or on non-search websites, mobile apps, and videos.
How do Google Ads work?
As mentioned above, Google Ads allows advertisers to bid on keywords and search terms that potential leads will enter into the search engine. The winners of those bids will have their ads placed at the top of the SERP, on YouTube pages, or depending on the type of ad campaign selected, on relevant websites.
In conjunction with Google Ads, AdRank will determine the placement of your ad. A Quality Score will be one of the factors that advertisers bid on, and will determine your AdRank.
The Quality Score will be based on the quality and relevance of your ad, which Google measures by how many people click on your displayed ad. This is also known as the click-through rate (CTR). Therefore, your CTR will depend on how well your ad matches searcher intent through:
- The user experience of your landing page
- The relevance of your keywords
- How well your ad aligns with what the searcher expects
Pros of Google Ads
There is a lot of benefit to using Google Ads, such as:
- Access to a wide audience
- Lower cost per click (CPC) than LinkedIn
- Audience behaviour already indicates intention to buy
- Comprehensive analytics tools
- Multiple ad types to choose from
Cons of Google Ads
Like any ad platform, Google Ads does have its drawbacks and may not be appropriate for all B2B marketers:
- Google Ads is a highly competitive market
- There’s a steep learning curve for advanced options (this is why a lot of B2B marketers choose to partner with an SEM expert)
- Ad content and design limitations
- Fewer segmentation opportunities
What is LinkedIn Ads?
LinkedIn Ads is a powerful paid marketing tool that gives access to LinkedIn social networks through a variety of sponsored posts and other media. It’s a tool a lot of B2B companies use to build leads, bolster recognition, share content, build brand awareness, and ultimately drive conversions.
LinkedIn Ads is focused primarily in the professionals’ market and uses those networks to promote your ads.
One of the primary differences that sets LinkedIn Ads apart from Google Ads is that LinkedIn is a social network whereas Google Ads uses search engine results to target ads based on keywords and phrases.
Given that LinkedIn has over 690 million users across the globe, LinkedIn Ads is an incredibly powerful platform in the professional world.
How do Linkedin Ads work?
LinkedIn Ads work fairly simply: there are five steps to the process that our friends over at HubSpot have outlined for us. We’ll briefly summarize them here:
- 1. Choose an objective: Are you looking for awareness or conversions, etc.?
- 2. Select targeting criteria: This includes demographics, such as age, occupation, gender, etc.
- 3. Pick your ad format: Is this a sponsored message, dynamic, or text ads?
- 4. Set your budget: Pretty simple–how much do you want to spend?
- 5. Measure your ad’s performance: Keep track of how your ad is performing with CTRs.
Pros of LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn Ads can offer unique benefits that marketers simply can’t get with Google Ads:
- Lower learning curve and easier to get started
- Access to high-value prospects and decision-makers
- Account-based marketing opportunities
- Budget planning is simple
- An in-depth and wide variety of targeting options
Cons of LinkedIn Ads
There are, of course, drawbacks to consider:
- Although the audience is high-quality, it’s narrower than Google Ads can provide
- Audience doesn’t necessarily have intent to buy products or services
- Higher cost-per-click (CPC), impression, and send than Google Ads
- Lack of in-depth reporting and analytics tools
Which is better for your business: Google Ads or LinkedIn Ads?
Now is decision time. Which is better for your B2B business: Google Ads or LinkedIn Ads?
The answer is pretty simple (and stated at the outset): both can be. Here’s why.
Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads, while both are paid ads (and therefore, part of the SEM arm of your marketing strategy), they serve different purposes and use ads differently. But knowing how to use each can really pay off in dividends.
Which one you use depends on multiple factors. But keep in mind that these factors can change as your business goals change. Which is what makes both Google Ads and LinkedIn Ads so powerful, as long as you know how to use them right.
Determine your goals
The first question to ask your team is, “what are our goals with this ad campaign?” Given the pros and cons above, this should inform some of your decision-making when it comes to which ad platform you choose.
Are you looking to:
- Generate leads?
- Build brand awareness?
- Promote a new product or service?
For example, if you’re looking for lead generation and have both the skill set and budget, Google Ads gives a wider reach and offers an audience that already has intent to buy a product or service that your company sells.
Generating leads with LinkedIn Ads can be a bit harder. As users are signing in to learn industry news, connect with other professionals and group members, these users don’t usually come to LinkedIn with intent to buy like they would if using Google.
Who is your target audience?
Google’s audience is massive. Actually, massive doesn’t even cover how extensive Google’s reach is. This can be both a blessing and a curse for marketers.
While Google Ads gives marketers a wide pool of potential leads, which is great, it’s best to try and focus ads as much as possible, but not too much. It’s like the Goldilocks ratio: too narrow and you miss key exposure; too wide and you’ve spent ad money on a campaign that is too far reaching.
As a rule of thumb, if you’re a B2B marketer looking to connect with decision-makers, LinkedIn Ads will probably be your best bet. For both B2C and B2B companies looking to widen their reach, Google Ads can work well.
What is your budget?
Budget is everything. When it comes to expenses, LinkedIn Ads generally tend to run a bit higher than Google Ads. But just like Google, you can opt for the cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPI) model.
Unlike Google Ads, Linkedin Ads offers a cost-per-send model, which is part of the Message Ads features. This means every time a message pops up in a potential lead’s chatbox from your marketing campaign, if they click on the link, that’s part of the cost.
If you’re a B2B company working on a tight budget, you might want to consider working on a limited number of LinkedIn Ads and bulk it out with Google Ads.
Ahrefs is great for keyword research, backlink checking, and finding link building opportunities. While these are features that overlap with SEO optimization, they are also applicable to effective SEM strategies. Bonus: report generation is speedy-fast.
Work with the right SEM expert
Of course, all of this is something an excellent SEM expert will be able to help you with. They can guide you through the marketing choices, and get your campaigns up and running, and monitor them as well.
At Sparked, we’re committed to providing our clients with careful and considerate SEM expertise. Want to learn more about our SEM services? Head over here and contact us today.