Thursday, February 9, 2012

LinkedIn ads - puzzled

From a software vendor's point of view, or any vendor's point of view for that matter, LinkedIn appears to be an ideal platform for promoting products. There are not many places where the audience by definition is exactly what you are looking for and exactly the audience that would benefit from your products. For example: if you target a SQL Server group like "SQL Server Developers" or "SQL Server Professionals" you know that other than the ever present recruiters everybody else is involved with SQL Server in one capacity or another. So, if the product you are promoting through your ad is directly related with SQL Server chances are that a number of those group members might be interested.
So we created a couple of simple ads that clearly state what the products we are promoting are about. The ad for xSQL Object reads: "SQL Schema Compare", "Compare and synchronize SQL Server Schema. Free lite edition. Supports 2008/2005/2000"; and the ad for Oracle Data Compare reads "Oracle Data Compare", "Compare and synchronize data between two databases – Oracle 9i/10g/11g". We carefully chose the groups we wanted to target with those ads. 
The minimum bid that LinkedIn enforces is $2 per click, pretty steep but if the people who are clicking are the ones we are looking for it may still be feasible so up to this point all is good.  Now we are live and that is where the puzzle begins:
  1. First we see that the number of impressions goes quickly in the thousands but the click through ratio is really, really low. This part of the puzzle turns out to be easy to solve – it seems that since we bid the minimum allowed, that is $2 instead of the LinkedIn recommended bid of $3.27 to $4.05, one needs to scroll about a mile (a bit of exaggeration here) to reach the bottom of the page for a given group where you might see the ad in question. So, of course most of those impressions (maybe over 99%) are worthless since virtually nobody really sees it – aren’t we glad we did not choose to pay per impression! 
  2. Now we start looking at the few clicks that at $2 each are eating that budget up very fast, and herein lies the biggest puzzle: almost all who clicked arrived to that one page that was linked to the ad but left as soon as they got there! Here is why I find this puzzling:
    • I cannot imagine anyone in this world that would click on an ad just to pass the time;
    • The ad is not trying to lure people to click – quite the opposite. Unless comparing and synchronizing sql server database schemas sounds like something you might be interested on then there is no reason for you to click on that ad;
    • The audience is as close to the perfect audience as you can get;
    • The pages they see (xSQL Object and Oracle Data Compare respectively) provide exactly the information you must be looking for since you clicked on that advertisement.
So, who is clicking on our ads!? We don’t know yet but what we know is that those people are certainly not looking for our products!
If you have a positive experience with LinkedIn ads please do write to us or just comment on this blog. We would love to hear from you as we still believe that LinkedIn can be a very valuable to us but maybe we are just approaching this the wrong way.


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