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Navigating LinkedIn's Audience Changes (2024)

As we step into the new year, LinkedIn is ushering in changes to its ad targeting methods. They’re set to take effect on February 29, 2024. 


Notably, the platform is bidding farewell to lookalike audiences and is encouraging marketers to pivot towards Predictive Audiences and Audience Expansion features instead. While not entirely new to LinkedIn, the strategic implementation of these features is poised to replace the outgoing lookalike audiences.  LinkedIn says that leveraging these options will not only facilitate scale but also empower advertisers to reach users with attributes similar to their target audience and identify prospective buyers primed for action. 


Image of a LinkedIn logo

In this blog post, we'll delve into the implications of these changes for your current campaigns and provide tips on how to use the existing LinkedIn tools to target your audience more effectively than ever.


How are your existing campaigns affected? 


You are probably wondering what will happen to your existing campaigns. The sunsetting of lookalike audiences on Feb. 29 means that new lookalike audiences can’t be created and existing audiences can’t be edited. 


Any lookalike data that exists in your account will no longer refresh and instead, your lookalike audience lists will become static. That means your ads will continue to show to the same people that were previously identified and the list won’t update. 


Further, if a lookalike audience goes more than 30 days without being used in a draft or an active campaign, it will be automatically archived. If an archived lookalike audience expires—this happens after 90 days without use—it will be permanently deleted. 


As you can see with these policies, you’ll need to rely on Predictive Audiences or enable Audience Expansion for your campaigns to continue building dynamic audiences in 2024. 


Getting comfortable with Predictive Audiences


The Predictive Audiences feature offers a way to expand your campaign's reach by creating an audience that mirrors the characteristics of your existing data source to pinpoint individuals more inclined to convert. 

To create a Predictive Audience, LinkedIn combines whatever data source you choose to use and LinkedIn’s AI to generate a new custom audience automatically.


You can choose from one of the three LinkedIn data sources:

  • Lead Gen Form 

  • Contact list (status must show “Ready” on your “Audiences” page) 

  • Conversions (using the Insight Tag or Conversions API)


The data sources you choose in the LinkedIn Campaign Manager should align with the specific behavior you’d like to replicate. For example, if you are running an ad campaign to drive leads, it would make sense to target individuals who have previously engaged with one of your Lead Gen Forms and expressed interest in a particular product. You would select the Lead Gen Form as your data source in this scenario.


By aligning your data source with the specific behavior you intend to replicate—such as form submissions—you ensure that the Predictive Audience generated by LinkedIn's AI is finely tuned to capture individuals with similar characteristics and a higher likelihood of converting. 


Getting comfortable with Audience Expansion


The second tool we’ll be leaning on in 2024 is Audience Expansion. This feature uses demographics combined with Matched Audience segments to target those with attributes similar to your desired audience, providing a broader reach for your campaign. 


LinkedIn claims this tool is a good way to expand your campaign audience because it helps you discover new, quality prospects and automatically drive them into your marketing funnel. 


While Audience Expansion is typically turned on as the default option when setting up a campaign, you may want to double-check since the feature is likely to be of more use once lookalike audiences go away. To do so, navigate your campaign, select “Edit” and then navigate to the “Audience” section. Once there, select the check box to “Enable Audience Expansion.” 


Do’s and don'ts for LinkedIn audience building features:


Do:

  • Utilize a contact list of customer emails from your CRM, visitors to your login page, or existing LinkedIn Lead Gen Form fills.

  • Ensure alignment with your sales team by using audiences that have undergone review and approval, such as a contact list selected by the sales team or closed-won opportunities. This could be a list of event attendees that the sales have spoken to, for example.

  • If using Audience Expansion, assess the quality of new leads through research and A/B testing. Enable the Audience Expansion feature and compare results with campaigns not using it, leveraging LinkedIn's metrics for real-time insights into lead qualification.


Don't:

  • Consolidate all buyer personas into a single campaign. Your messaging will get too general. Keep them separate so that you can tailor your ads to your audience.

  • Hyper-target. Making use of too many targeting parameters can result in audiences that are too small. Optimal results are achieved with an audience ranging from 50,000 to 500,000 members, striking a balance for campaign success.


Although change can be daunting, shifting to Audience Expansion and Predictive Audiences has the potential to open up opportunities for more refined targeting and improved campaign reach—as long as it's done strategically. 


Need a hand reaching the right audience? We’re on standby.



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