LinkedIn Ads vs. Google Adwords: What works better?

With so many digital platforms out there to advertise on today, it can sometimes be difficult to determine where to best spend your advertising budget to get the best return on investment.

Both Google and LinkedIn ads can radically transform your business, but it all depends on your business, what you are advertising, and who your target audience is. The pay-per-click model that both companies use, allows small start-ups to start advertising even with smaller budgets and yield great return-on-investment opportunities.

So with both platforms being good places to spend your advertising money, there are differences and distinct features native to each platform and it’s important to know these to determine which one would be best suited to your business needs.

What makes Google and LinkedIn ads different from traditional forms of advertising?

Traditional advertising would often have you pay a specified amount of money to have your ad displayed for a set amount of time. This could either be a billboard, a radio ad, or a TV commercial, all of which can be costly to set up before you have even paid the chosen network or company to display your ad.

Once you have paid for your ad to be displayed, you have no control over who sees it. It also does not matter if you only have one sale generated from the ad, you still pay the full price for the time. With Google Adwords and LinkedIn ads, your initial cost is much cheaper and you only pay per person that clicks on your advertised link, this means that your return on investment (ROI) is much higher than it would be through traditional advertising.


Over the last few years, LinkedIn has gone through some massive changes. It was always just seen as a place for businesses to headhunt employees but has turned into more of a social network for professionals to, well, network with each other. It is also the number one rated platform for lead generation. They have also completely revamped their advertising system and that is what will be our primary focus in this article, but first, let us explore the platform a bit.

The start and growth of LinkedIn

LinkedIn started in 2003 and in just 8 years it was able to grow its user base to 160 million people, not impressed? Well, in 2011 the company went public and in 2016, it reported having 400 million users, still need convincing? Now in 2020, LinkedIn has a whopping 660 million users. With more professionals joining the workforce every day, I do not think that this growth will slow down anytime soon.

Who uses LinkedIn?

Let us be clear, of the 660 million users, over half are active monthly users. That is 330 million active users every single month, 40% of those, are active daily, which means roughly 132 million people are on the site consistently, every day. Whether you are an experienced marketer or fresh out of college, I am sure those numbers are starting to sound juicy.

What separates LinkedIn from other social networking sites is that it is focused primarily on being a business-orientated social network, that, along with its impressive user numbers, makes it the best platform for any professional or company to use as its primary networking site.

I do not think it is surprising at all that in 2017, it was revealed that 92% of all fortune 500 companies use LinkedIn. Among other popular social networking sites for fortune 500 companies, we have Facebook who also has 92% of fortune 500 companies using their platform, and Twitter has 79%, using their platform.

These numbers are about to start getting a bit tricky. In 2019 LinkedIn had around 30 million companies registered on its platform. But if you were to add any company to your LinkedIn profile, and the company doesn’t exist on their platform, they will automatically generate the company’s profile, even if you listed one that does not exist. Only around 17 million LinkedIn registered businesses are managed by the respective companies, but this does not mean that 13 million companies are fake. The majority of them are just, not managed.

This is where LinkedIn’s user data gets very interesting, especially for anyone wanting to recruit employees, anyone trying to get their names in front of big names, or for people trying to sell a product. It is also at this point that you should start to understand why LinkedIn’s advertising is so appealing to a certain type of marketer.

In 2019 they went on record stating that 90 million of their users are at the senior level of their respective companies/fields. If you dig deeper into the numbers, 63 million are key decision-makers, 17 million are top opinion Influencers and 10 million are C- level executives. If you were to advertise using LinkedIn, these are the types of people that you would be reaching with their targeted ads, but we will get to that in just a bit.

LinkedIn advertising

If you decided to advertise on LinkedIn, it is important to note that LinkedIn’s cost per click (CPC) is a lot higher than most other platforms. That being said, it is not so bad when you consider a few factors. Remember, you need to think of your conversion rate when advertising on any platform.

While most platforms use keyword-targeted ads, LinkedIn has some of the most advanced ad targeting in the market. You can select your target audience from the industry they work in, their career level and position, their skills, hobbies, and interests, all the way down to their educational background.

You are targeting people, not keywords. This can have a massive impact, depending on, of course, what you are advertising.

Some of the targeting filters that LinkedIn offers


LinkedIn makes it mandatory for you to select the Region you wish to target. This means you have full control when it comes to where your ads are viewed.

And yes, you can select multiple locations.

Optional targeting

Here are some ways you can target companies directly

  • Company Connections: Only available for companies with more than 500 employees.
  • Industry: The primary industry of the company where the member is employed.
  • Company Size: Company size is determined by the number of employees listed on the organization’s LinkedIn Page.
  • Company Name: The organization that a member lists as his or her employer. These are based on LinkedIn Pages, which are maintained by company employees.
  • Company Followers: This option is great if you have a company profile with followers and you want them to know about a new service or product.

There are a few more ways you can target by company. but let us look at demographic targeting


  • Age: You can target users based on age, if a user does not display their age, LinkedIn will use its algorithms to determine the user’s age.
  • Gender: Again, another great innovation from LinkedIn, target your audience by gender


  • Fields of Study: You can target people based on their field of study.
  • Degrees: If you want to narrow down your target audience, you can target people based on their degree.
  • Member Schools: You can even target people based on which school they attended.

Job Experience

  • Job Seniority: This option is great for anyone who wants to get their profile, service, or product seen by key decision-makers.
  • Job Title: LinkedIn uses algorithms to formulate standardized job titles based on how people update their job title, so this option does not just limit you to people who have the specific title in their profile, but rather, the people who are most likely to be in that same role.
  • Years of Experience: Reach a target audience based on the years of professional experience they’ve accumulated. We exclude any gaps in experience and don’t double-count overlapping positions.

If you are new to using LinkedIn ads, they do have a few targeting templates that you can play around with until you get the hang of everything.

The benefits of LinkedIn ads

If you know exactly who your audience is or even if you just have an idea, then LinkedIn’s targeted ads could be the best way for you to advertise. Let us look at a few examples.

Target Your Audience Directly.

  • Maybe you are a business and want to recruit personnel from your competitors or maybe you are looking for a very specific skill. just simply target them in your ad campaign.
  • If you have a product that will be used by people in specific job title such as a personal trainer or personal assistant, maybe a dentist, just target them with LinkedIn’s targeting tools.
  • Perhaps you want a job at a certain company, you could advertise yourself and get noticed by a key decision-maker in that company by targeting them. Getting yourself noticed, is often the hardest part of getting a job.
  • If you sell luxury products, target your ads according to salary.


Google needs no Introduction. It is no secret that Google is the biggest and most used search engine in the world. It boasted 1.9 billion active daily users in 2019 and handled an average of 7 billion searches every day. Google also has its email service (Gmail) that boasts its active user count at a staggering 1.5 billion active users.

How does Google Ads work?


When setting up your ad campaign, Google will ask you to list which Keywords you wish to target. Keywords are the words or phrases which will cause your advert to appear when a user, uses them in their searches. Your keywords need to be selected carefully and you need to understand your product and what the people who are looking for your type of product, will search for.

So, for example, the keywords for a website selling Health supplements might be things like vitamins, weight loss, smoothie, Protein, etc.

You then need to set up your price per click. This is how much you are willing to pay Google every time someone clicks on your ad. It works like an auction where the highest bidder (the company willing to pay the highest per click) will be placed higher up on the page.

Now that you have chosen your keywords and selected how much you are willing to pay per click, it is time to set up your ad, the format of which is very easy.

Your ad must consist of three headlines of up to 30 characters each and two lines of description text of up to 90 characters each. You then need to make sure each advert points to the most relevant landing page on your site so that the visitor always gets straight to what they were searching for.

Benefits of using Google

Google Ads is the fastest way to reach your desired audience and works much faster than SEO does.

  • Google Ads is the fastest way to reach your desired audience. Google ads work much faster than SEO does.
  • Increase your brand awareness on a massive scale.
  • Google does promote ads on their Email platform (Gmail) so it gives you the power to reach people straight through their Gmail inbox.
  • Through the use of cookies, Google will be able to reconnect and target people who have previously been on your website, which dramatically increases your chances of getting the sale.
  • Google provides all the tools needed for you to keep monitoring the performance of your ads.
  • By searching keywords yourself, you will be able to keep track of and monitor your competition, which allows you to stay ahead of the competition.
  • There are tools to help you keep track of and monitor the most relevant keywords related to your product so you can always keep optimizing your ads.

LinkedIn Ads vs. Google Adwords: What works better?

Both Google and LinkedIn ads can radically transform your business. The PPC model that both companies use has allowed small start-up businesses to start advertising even with smaller budgets. They also ensure that your money is well spent. So which should you choose? In my opinion, it all depends on what you are advertising and who your target audience is.

If you use google, your reach will be greater, your CPC will be lower, your ads will have a larger reach, you will have more control in monitoring the performance of your ads and you can keep up to date with the latest keyword trends so that your ads are always optimized.

If you use LinkedIn, your reach is lower and your CPC is higher, but your audience has double the buying power of users outside of LinkedIn. Your product also has the possibility of being seen by very influential people. The targeting that LinkedIn offers is also one of the best I have ever seen.


Knowledge is power and now that you’re armed with some knowledge on the differences between these two platforms, you can determine which one will be best suited to your advertising needs.

You can also check out my article on How to Target Facebook Ads to Specific Users for some insightful tips and tricks.

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