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Transitioning from LinkedIn Campaigns Lookalike Audiences to Predictive and Expansion Audiences

LinkedIn will phase out its lookalike audience feature by February 29, 2024. As a result, marketers will no longer have the ability to forge new lookalike audiences or modify existing ones, which will transition into a non-updatable, static format. Despite this, campaigns actively utilizing lookalike audiences will persist in targeting the unchanging audience pool.

Alternative Strategies: Embracing Predictive and Expansion Audiences

In lieu of lookalike audiences, LinkedIn champions two innovative targeting solutions: Predictive Audiences and Audience Expansion. These methods are designed to scale your reach and pinpoint potential customers with a higher propensity for conversion.

Using Predictive Audiences for LinkedIn Campaigns

This approach leverages LinkedIn's sophisticated algorithms and your specific data (such as Lead Gen Forms, conversion activities, or contact lists) to curate custom audiences that mirror the traits of likely converters, optimizing your campaign's impact. To further elaborate on the concept of Predictive Audiences, it's essential to delve into the mechanics and benefits of this advanced targeting solution offered by LinkedIn. Predictive Audiences harness the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, alongside LinkedIn's vast repository of user data, to facilitate advertisers in crafting custom audience segments. This method is particularly adept at identifying LinkedIn members who exhibit behaviors and characteristics closely mirroring those of your existing customers or leads, thereby significantly enhancing the likelihood of conversion. The creation of a Predictive Audience is contingent upon the advertiser providing a robust data source — be it from Lead Gen Forms, website conversions tracked via the LinkedIn Insight Tag or Conversions API, or meticulously curated contact lists. A crucial requirement for these data sources is a minimum of 300 members, ensuring a sufficient sample size for the AI to analyze and predict effectively.

One of the standout features of Predictive Audiences is its ability to dynamically adapt and refine its targeting based on ongoing campaign performance and interactions, ensuring that your advertising efforts are continually optimized for the highest possible engagement and conversion rates. This dynamic adaptation is underpinned by LinkedIn's AI, which meticulously analyzes user behaviors, engagement patterns, and conversion metrics to fine-tune the audience segment.

Moreover, advertisers are granted the flexibility to select and combine multiple data sources within a single category, such as combining several Lead Gen Forms, to meet the 300-member threshold. This versatility allows for a more granular and tailored audience segmentation, enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of your campaigns.

It's also worth noting the limitations imposed on Predictive Audiences to maintain campaign quality and effectiveness: a cap of 30 predictive audiences per ad account and the prohibition of sharing these audiences across different ad accounts. Additionally, campaigns utilizing Predictive Audiences cannot employ Audience Expansion, ensuring that the focus remains on reaching highly targeted and likely-to-convert individuals.

In essence, Predictive Audiences represent a strategic leap forward in digital advertising, offering unparalleled precision in targeting and the potential for significantly improved campaign performance. By leveraging LinkedIn's advanced AI capabilities and rich data ecosystem, advertisers can unlock new levels of efficiency and effectiveness in their marketing strategies.

Step by step how to set-up a predictive audience LinkedIn campaigns
How to create a predictive audience on LinkedIn

Using Audience Expansion for LinkedIn Campaigns

This feature broadens your marketing horizon by tapping into LinkedIn's extensive professional demographic data, allowing for the inclusion of individuals resembling your defined target audience, thus amplifying your reach.

Audience Expansion on LinkedIn stands as a strategic tool designed to amplify the reach of your B2B advertising campaigns beyond the confines of your initial target audience parameters. By employing this feature, LinkedIn enables advertisers to seamlessly connect with a broader set of professionals who share similar attributes, interests, or behaviors to those in your predefined target segments. This is particularly advantageous for B2B campaigns aiming to increase brand awareness, enter new markets, or simply expand their reach within LinkedIn's vast network of professionals.

The underlying technology of Audience Expansion leverages LinkedIn's comprehensive professional demographic data. This includes insights into users' job titles, industries, professional skills, and interests, among others. By analyzing these data points, LinkedIn's algorithms can intelligently identify and include additional LinkedIn members who, while not directly specified in your original targeting criteria, exhibit a high degree of alignment with your target audience's professional characteristics and behaviors.

Importantly, Audience Expansion does not operate in a vacuum; it is meticulously designed to integrate with Matched Audience segments. This means advertisers can extend the reach of their campaigns even further by combining their custom audience lists, such as those created from website visitors or contact lists, with LinkedIn's expansive demographic data. This synergy between custom and demographic data ensures that the expanded audience is not only larger in number but also maintains a high relevance to the campaign's objectives.

However, it's crucial for advertisers to understand the nuances of Audience Expansion, such as the exclusion rules. If specific attributes are deliberately excluded from your target audience, LinkedIn's Audience Expansion will honor these exclusions to ensure the expanded audience remains as relevant and targeted as possible. This attention to detail ensures that the quality of the audience is not diluted, preserving the integrity and focus of the campaign.

Another pivotal aspect of Audience Expansion is its impact on campaign analytics. LinkedIn provides detailed performance and demographic metrics that include data from both the original target audience and the expanded audience. This comprehensive view allows advertisers to assess the effectiveness of their expansion strategy and make informed decisions about future B2B campaigns using LinkedIn. It's worth noting, however, that Audience Expansion is not available for certain types of campaigns, such as those using dynamic ad formats or predictive audiences, to ensure the most effective use of LinkedIn's targeting capabilities.

In sum, Audience Expansion on LinkedIn is a powerful feature for advertisers looking to cast a wider net while maintaining the relevance and precision of their targeting. It opens up new opportunities to connect with potential customers or clients who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer, thereby maximizing the reach and impact of your advertising efforts on the platform.

How to set-up audience expansion LinkedIn campaigns
How to set-up audience expansion LinkedIn campaigns

Navigating the Shift in LinkedIn targeting: Practical Insights for Marketers

To adapt, marketers should initiate the use of Predictive Audiences for targeted engagement or opt for Audience Expansion to cast a wider net. Note that after a 30-day dormancy period, unused lookalike audiences will be archived, emphasizing the urgency to transition.

Moreover, the discontinuation of the Lookalike API underscores the need for businesses utilizing third-party platforms for audience creation to explore these new avenues.

Looking Ahead with LinkedIn's Advertising Innovations

As we approach the discontinuation of lookalike audiences, LinkedIn's introduction of Predictive Audiences and Audience Expansion emerges as a forward-thinking solution, offering advertisers powerful tools to refine and expand their audience targeting strategies effectively. For more detailed guidance, LinkedIn's resource center provides comprehensive insights into leveraging these new features to their fullest potential.

Best practices for LinkedIn's Predictive Audiences

For leveraging LinkedIn's Predictive Audiences to their fullest potential, consider the following best practices:

  • Identify Clear Objectives: Start with a well-defined goal for your campaign. Knowing whether you're aiming for brand awareness, lead generation, or conversions will guide your use of Predictive Audiences.

  • Select the Right Data Source: Choose a data source that aligns with your campaign objectives. Whether it's Lead Gen Forms, contact lists, or conversion data, ensure it's relevant and substantial (with at least 300 members) to create an effective predictive audience.

  • Combine Multiple Data Sources: If necessary, combine several data sources within the same category to meet the minimum member requirement. This can help create a more robust and representative audience.

  • Maintain Data Quality: Ensure your data sources are up-to-date and accurately reflect your target audience. High-quality data is crucial for the AI to generate relevant predictive audiences.

  • Monitor and Adjust: Regularly review your campaign performance. Be prepared to adjust your data sources or targeting criteria based on the insights gathered to continuously optimize campaign results.

  • Understand Limitations: Be aware of the limitations, such as the cap of 30 predictive audiences per ad account and the inability to share audiences across accounts. Plan your audience strategy within these constraints.

  • Exclude Irrelevant Data: If certain segments of your data do not align with your campaign goals, consider excluding them to refine your audience further.

  • Leverage LinkedIn Insights: Utilize LinkedIn’s insights and analytics to understand the characteristics and behaviors of your predictive audience. Tailor your messaging and content strategy to resonate with this group.

  • Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with LinkedIn's evolving tools and features for audience targeting. Continuous learning can uncover new opportunities to enhance your Predictive Audiences strategy.

Following these best practices will help maximize the effectiveness of your Predictive Audiences, leading to more targeted, efficient, and successful LinkedIn advertising campaigns.

Best practices using LinkedIn Audience Expansion

To optimize the use of LinkedIn's Audience Expansion feature for broader yet targeted reach, adhere to these best practices:

  • Clearly Define Your Core Audience: Before activating Audience Expansion, ensure your initial target audience is well-defined. A precise core audience allows LinkedIn to more accurately identify similar profiles for expansion.

  • Understand the Expansion Criteria: Familiarize yourself with how LinkedIn determines similarity for Audience Expansion, including professional demographics and interests, to better anticipate the expanded audience’s composition.

  • Use in Conjunction with Matched Audiences: Combine Audience Expansion with Matched Audience segments, such as those from website visitors or contact lists, to leverage both your specific targets and LinkedIn's broader network.

  • Monitor Expansion Performance: Keep a close eye on the performance metrics of campaigns using Audience Expansion. Analyze both the core and expanded audience’s engagement to adjust your strategy as needed.

  • Be Cautious with Exclusions: When setting up your campaign, carefully consider any exclusions. Excluding certain demographics or characteristics can significantly impact the effectiveness of the expanded audience.

  • Adjust Based on Campaign Goals: Tailor the use of Audience Expansion based on your campaign objectives, whether for lead generation, brand awareness, or event promotion, to ensure it aligns with your goals.

  • Review Demographic Reporting: Utilize LinkedIn’s demographic reporting to gain insights into the performance and characteristics of both your target and expanded audiences, allowing for further refinement.

  • Optimize Ad Content for a Broader Audience: Since Audience Expansion widens your reach, ensure your ad content appeals to a broader segment while still resonating with your core audience’s interests and needs.

  • Evaluate Campaign Type Compatibility: Remember that Audience Expansion is not available for all campaign types, such as dynamic ads. Choose your campaign format accordingly.

  • Stay Updated on LinkedIn Features: As LinkedIn continuously updates its advertising tools and features, staying informed can help you leverage Audience Expansion and other features more effectively.

Implementing these best practices will enable you to maximize the potential of Audience Expansion on LinkedIn, ensuring you reach a wider yet relevant audience to drive your campaign objectives.


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