How to use Document Ads on LinkedIn - 009

Before we dive in to this months newsletter I want to quickly plug The LinkedIn Ads Lab, a monthly interview series where I speak to best-in-class LinkedIn Ads marketers from all company sizes. In episode 001 - I spoke to Ben Jones from GoCardless on their advanced ABM strategy and how they execute in a unique way it on LinkedIn. Give it a watch and enjoy this months newsletter.

Newsletter 009 - How to use Document Ads on LinkedIn

The Document Ad format has been around ~1 year now, and we've learned a lot since then about how this unique format can fit into the mix.

The initial results were eye catching, but in recent months there have been some reservations about whether the results are actually THAT groundbreaking for it to be a sustainable ad format. The prioritised impression share that LinkedIn gives to new formats seems to have already run its course - now they're just another one of the gang. But I do feel, that as with all LinkedIn Ad formats, there is still unexplored territory and substantial potential and creative license.

A really important note is that they've recently been added as a retargeting option, which changes how we think about them and makes them a much more attractive option for ToFu, MoFu marketers.

Through the years certain ad formats have been more popular than others e.g. static ads + video ads have really stood the test of time. They've simply just worked for advertisers at scale, they're reliable and completely justify their reasons but this makes many forget about the options.

And sometimes the other options are where the party is at. I have seen every single ad format work for one brand or another, I've seen amazing results from formats like Text Ads and Message Ads - it really comes down to how effectively you use them.

So this month I decided to dedicated this newsletter to Document Ads, this way you'll have a base of knowledge of their capabilities to hopefully give you to platform to build your own unique use case for them. (Please message me and let me know if you do).

So what are Document Ads?

LinkedIn Document Ads are a type of Sponsored Content that allows advertisers to promote document files (PDF, DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX) directly in the LinkedIn feed. These formats can be ungated and gated (with a lead form). Targeted members can consume and download the document content without leaving the LinkedIn feed. Examples of documents include e-books, case studies, white papers, infographics, and presentations.

Ultimately, anything in-feed reduces a lot of friction BUT has resulted in decreased intent, people remember the experience less. If you can get people to consume on your site surrounded by your brand enclosure - they'll simply remember you more.

The LinkedIn feed is good but it will never replace your website.

What do they look like in the feed?

Surprisingly clean (example below).

An example from Saïd Business School, Oxford.

How can you use Document Ads?

Personally, I've only used them for Content Consumption and Lead Gen but they can be used in many ways. The size and formatting of the ad type makes them an attractive ad format throughout the funnel. I've narrowed down the top three use-cases for Document Ads below.

Brand Awareness - Low Content Value (Ungated)

If you're looking to increase your brand impact within the Linkedin feed, this ad format actually presents itself as quite a nice option. With the pdf. format they offer sizing that can take up a large portion of the LinkedIn feed for users on both mobile and desktop. Couple this with strong brand identity and good storytelling and you have a really useful ad format to warm people up to your brand.

For testing this use case I'd recommend low content value, very simplistic storytelling that is more about introducing your brand values and who you are than overwhelming people with information.

I have yet to see it used in this way but it's something I plan to test once companies start agreeing to do brand again. (I know the profitability squeeze is on right now but a lot of the market really need to start thinking about brand again.)

A really interesting experiment is to measure Document Ad completion-rate vs Video Ad completion-rate to see how far your audience is consuming before the drop-off point. This will give you a better idea of which format is more suitable for awareness of the one you're better at.

Document Ad reporting options

Measurement: % completion of the content.

Content Consumption - Medium Content Value (Ungated)

If you're looking for, to increase the content consumption or the value of the content your audience consumes, document ads can be a nice option. Again, this is ungated so you will leave the document open in PDF or PowerPoint form and allow the target audience to full engage and consume the document ad.

In terms of the content value - I'd start to educate, entertain or edutain at this point. I'd give away a section of the playbook but definitely not the full whack.

Measurement: % completion of the content. Downloads. Engagements.

Lead Generation - High Value Content (Gated after page 3-4)

So this is probably the use-case that I have the most data on. What's worked for my clients is content that is of extremely high value "The ultimate guide to...." or "The complete playbook...." - content that your audience is maybe already aware of but doesn't have easy access to.

My tests have found that doing this through a Document Ad lead-gen form (rather than a Static Ad lead-gen form) has brought leads with much more intent, in all cases the qualitative feedback from sales has been that they remember downloading the lead-form as they've had a chance to review the content in-feed.

The trick here is to make your ungated pages (first 1-3) packed with value so that it contributes to high target audience FOMO.

This type of campaign makes sense as a retargeting touchpoint for anyone who's engaged with any section of your playbook in previous feed content.

Measurement: CPL, Lead Quality, MQL cost, Lead Intent.

Retargeting with Document Ads

In the last months, LinkedIn introduced a retargeting option for people who have either engaged with or downloaded on your Document Ads. This now makes them a much more attractive option as part of a MoFu user touchpoint.

However, I do feel they could have added a completion metric like video ad retargeting to give more flexibility and scale to the retargeting options. Maybe this will come later.

So what's the verdict?

The competitive advantage of a being an early adopter to this new format has dissolved but I do still think Document Ads are here to stay and they have much more room to be tested.

The introduction of retargeting should cement them as part of a multi ad-format strategy combined with video ads and static ads to give you a really wholistic brand presence on LinkedIn.

Personally, I'm going to continue mainly with more BoFu intent tests for e-book downloads/playbook downloads as I feel while leads are more expensive with Document Ads, this evens out or is marginally cheaper down-funnel.

So all-in-all they're definitely worth a shot.

If you'd like to work together...

We advise on, build and report on everything I've mentioned above to help you be successful with your LinkedIn strategy.

So feel free to reply directly to this email or book a call if you:

  • Have any questions about the content

  • Would like to discuss your own LinkedIn strategy

  • Want me to build a LinkedIn Ad strategy for your business