Contributor and SMX speaker, AJ Wilcox, explains in this video how a simple message and focused audience works best when advertising on LinkedIn.

Below is the video transcript:

All right advertisers. Here’s the strategic approach you need to have for LinkedIn ads in 2020.

Use the A-M-O strategy

I like to use the acronym AMO, A-M-O for understanding how to attack any sort of social advertising, but especially LinkedIn. So “A” is your audience. It’s who you’re targeting. “M” is the message. So how your prospects see the message. And then “O” is your offer. This is really what is in it for the user, and what you’re asking them to.

Choosing your LinkedIn audience

So your audience on LinkedIn, keep it tight. There’s no reason to target more people than who you’re really going after just because you’re trying to chase some arbitrary audience size.

I like to keep my audiences between about 20,000 and 80,000 but certainly, there’s no reason to make that broader if they’re not a good fit. So just go with whatever size audience and don’t listen to anyone who recommends otherwise.

Ad format and copy

The message really is what the user sees. So there’s the ad format, the image or video, and the ad copy.

For the ad copy, make sure your messaging is short, sweet and to the point. People on LinkedIn are busy.

For the imagery, make sure it’s bright and contrasts against LinkedIn’s blues, grays and whites color palette. Go heavy on the oranges, greens and reds.

Make your offer valuable

Always start with sponsored content if you can, bidding just cost per click. It’s the simplest, easiest to troubleshoot kind of ad formats and simplest to make. It’s really easy to predict. and so there’s a problem, you’ll be able to see it very quickly.

Bid cost per click because that’s by far the most efficient way, at least when you’re starting out.

The offer, “O” in AMO, is by far the most important part of LinkedIn Ads. No one wants to hop on the phone with your sales rep before they’ve ever heard about your company. So quit trying to push people right to a demo request. Instead, go for gated content first that truly is valuable. We’re talking a free checklist or cheat sheet or guide, ebook, webinar or free in-person event. Those are the types of things that do well here.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

AJ Wilcox is a long-time digital marketer who fell in love with the LinkedIn Ads platform back in 2011. Since then, he’s scaled and managed among the world’s most sophisticated accounts worldwide. In 2014, he founded which specializes in LinkedIn Ads training, consulting, and account management, and recently became a Certified LinkedIn Ads Partner. He’s a ginger, triathlete, and his company car is a gokart. He lives in Utah with his wife and 4 kids.


Is advertising the “new dot com bubble” according to this intriguing article written on The Correspondent

I’ve been chewing on this question since the article came out a couple of weeks ago.

Well, I’ve been chewing on variations of this question for a while, but not in the “bubble” language ascribed by Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn. 

As I ponder this assertion, I think I would like to change the original title (and premise) to the following:

Original Title/Theme: The New Dot Com Bubble Is Here: It’s Called Online Advertising

Suggested Title/Theme: The New Dot Com Bubble Has Been Expanding: It’s Called Attribution of Sales in Online Advertising

I found myself nodding my head vigorously at much of Frederik and Martijn’s article, specifically as it called out the digital advertising community’s obsession with chasing tracked profit at the expense of incremental value and actual new customer growth.

However, here is where I disagreed with the article: the authors blamed the failure of marketers and engineers to actually demonstrate incremental value on digital advertising itself, rather than on the tactics devised from an improper understanding of attribution.

Wait, wut.  

Here is what I mean, digital advertising is just advertising. It’s not the greatest thing to ever happen to marketing, and it’s not a bubble. It’s just advertising. 

It’s doing what marketers have done for years, utilize a specific medium to grow a brand (and thus sales) by getting the right message in front of the right people at the right time.

Discovering that people at eBay running most of their budget into their own (exceptionally powerful) brand terms are surprised to learn they don’t see incremental value isn’t the nail in the coffin for advertising the article suggests. Ironically, PPCers in my sphere have long written on the poor eBay PPC program management evident even from the public eye (“used babies” in titles thanks to DKI, anyone?).

This is why it’s crucial to point out the thing I believe the article alludes to but doesn’t actually identify as the actual bubble: that is an improper understanding of attribution, and how that establishes misguided tactics for paid search accounts that fail to build brands and add incremental value.

In other words, I am positing that paid search advertising itself has not failed, it’s that an understanding of how to use paid search advertising as part of an integrated marketing mix for individual companies has failed. Improper use of attribution has led to an obsession with directly tracked results that over time do not build a brand and incremental sales. They simply re-target (not necessarily remarketing, btw) the same users already in the sales cycle – ad nauseam.

In this regard, I would suggest that conversion tracking is as much of a curse as it is a blessing.

When you can track what source led to a sale, you begin to think you have an understanding of how your consumers purchase, and you begin to invest more money into that source. But what if that source is only one piece of the puzzle… especially if it’s closer to the bottom of the buying funnel, meaning much contact has already been likely made by your company?

When you think you can track everything, you begin to shift your time, resources, tools, and reporting to making your trackable KPIs grow, rather than building and implementing the tactics to accomplish an actual marketing strategy within your digital channel.

If your paid search strategy focuses solely on sweeping up those bottom of funnel clicks and sales (which is what you’re tempted to do with a last-click attribution model that gives 100% of the sale credit to the last source to send you the sale), then yup… you maybe won’t see much damage (at least initially) in pausing paid search. To be clear, certainly, there are times in competitive industries, (especially with startups who don’t have more advanced marketing channels built out yet) where using paid ads to initially catch those bottom funnel users is a sound tactic. 

I’m going to complicate things even further. You may be reading this and vehemently agreeing with this. “Death to last-click attribution!” you cry. 

However, let me push into this even further. I believe there is no perfect attribution model, and with privacy awareness increasing and dark traffic in a continually strong space, this means you can’t really trust a more complex attribution model either.  

Wait. Wut. 

Why did a person visit on their third visit and decide they “loved this brand and had to have one” because of “just the right” emotional experience. But, then didn’t actually purchase until their seventh visit, 12 days later? Who knows? That’s not something you can track. Attribution will always have limitations, which is why in some ways, attribution (improper or proper usage) itself may be the true dot com bubble the authors are sniffing out. 

Regardless, as long as we keep chasing solely after tracked individual channel success and building digital marketing strategies (selecting keywords, ad text choices, locations, devices, audiences, demographics, etc.) without thinking beyond individual channel success, then we will continue to struggle to build brands and see incremental growth. 

Only when we as paid search marketers strategize with the other channels, to build a marketing strategy targeting the right message to people at the right place in the funnel (selecting unique keywords, and channels and campaign types for those, of course) will we begin to get beyond tracked ROAS as our primary KPI and focus more on overall brand growth across all marketing channels. 

If what you’re hearing scares you, because it sounds risky, well then, I think you’re picking up what I’m dropping. Real, authentic marketing that builds lasting brands has always been difficult, risky, time-consuming and expensive (with a healthy dose of luck). 

I don’t think digital advertising is the dot com bubble, I think our belief that we can track everything is the dot com bubble. 

Time to get back to marketing, worry less about tracked profit and build a brand. 

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his Paid Search micro-agency of experts, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero the past 4 years and is known for his Ecommerce PPC articles across various industry publications. He is one of the revolving hosts of the weekly #PPCChat on Twitter, as well as an international conference speaker presenting on all things Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads). Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, 5 children, books, and little sleep.


It was 10 years ago, Jeff Bezos famously quipped that “advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product.” As it relates to Amazon today, that logic holds as much water as any of these fine-looking sieves found on Amazon itself. In 2019, the retail site is largely a “pay to play” platform when it comes to defending and driving market share growth. This reality necessitates that Amazon sellers commit to advertising spending on the platform, but also do so based on expected conversion rates and search volume in order to preserve profitability while gaining market share.

How we got here

Two contributing factors have driven Amazon to its current state for sellers. First, across the most popular search terms on Amazon the share of total conversions for a given keyword, on average, heavily weight towards the first few results on the search page. This fact may have been true in the past, but its significance today becomes crystal clear when looking at Amazon’s own brand analytics data. Over the month of August, across the top million search terms on Amazon, the top three organic results captured an average of 62% of conversions.

Dovetailing with this behavior are the increasing prevalence of ads on Amazon search pages. Across nearly every popular search term across nearly every product category on Amazon, multiple Sponsored Product listings exist above the fold, along with, to a lesser degree, a Sponsored Brands placement at the very top of the page. Using the organic conversion share as a proxy for user behavior on the search page overall, those top paid placements are capturing a substantial share of total conversions.

All this being said, when it comes to user behavior on Amazon, not all categories are created equal. Anecdotally, think about how many options you would consider, and how long you would take to shop, for a 2-pack of ketchup bottles online versus a pair of pants. These differences bare out in the underlying data, which I studied as part of my work at Teikametrics.

How advertising varies by category on Amazon

To get this category-specific picture of Amazon advertising, I examined the paid and organic listings present on the first page of results across the top one million search queries on Amazon over the month of August 2019. The search results data for this analysis was captured over the course of the final week of August 2019, and the category segmentation was based on the top category suggestion from Amazon listed in the sidebar for that search.

I focused on top 20 physical goods categories by the number of queries present in the top million search terms. I then examined the number of ads present in the top 10 combined paid and organic results, in addition to any Sponsored Brands placements, on a per term basis, expressing this on a 0 to 100 index. The category labeled ‘100%’ had the most ads in the top 10 results, with all other results being expressed as a percentage of that total.

For context, I also provided the average top three organic conversion share of each term analyzed in the category, as provided by Amazon Brand Analytics, along with the average price of all products on the underlying search results page. The analysis underscores the level of variance across verticals when it comes to the number of ads at the top of a search results page on Amazon. 

Categories more aligned with hobbies, specifically “outdoor recreation,” “arts, crafts and sewing,” and “automotive” had the highest number of ads in the top 10 terms. This is likely due to brand affinity being a major driver of purchases generally in these categories, and many players outfitting across an entire category itself. You may know someone who always buys Coleman or North Face camping products, as one example. For brands, attracting those shoppers and getting them introduced to their brand can create subsequent, related purchases across their wider catalog.

Categories with comparatively lower rates of ads in the top 10 results were more aligned with high consideration, and more accessory-laden categories. These include “toys and games,” “computers and accessories” and “baby products.” In each of these categories, consumers are looking for the “right fit” for their needs based on a wide range of criteria (e.g. age of the child, color preferences, cord length etc.), and may place those needs above sticking with a certain brand, or be more brand agnostic in general.

Both fashion categories stand out, with relatively high ad rates, but lower Sponsored Brand rates. While these are both competitive marketplaces on Amazon, the fact that consumers aren’t as likely to convert on the top results makes those top placements potentially less valuable. These categories are also home to a particularly large number of resellers, who cannot purchase Sponsored Brands placements.

On the other side of the spectrum, both the “beauty and personal care” and “office products” categories have a comparatively high top three conversion share, yet a relatively low rate of ads in the top 10 results. This could relate to slimmer product margins crimping the ability for brands to commit significant budget to ads, but similarly represents a good opportunity for brands in this category to capture more conversions should it be economically viable.

Next Steps

While this analysis captures a moment in time on Amazon, marketers should see this as directionally relevant as they set their strategy for Q4 and beyond.

Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands advertising is particularly intense across certain categories on Amazon. If you’re a seller in those markets, you need to gain a thorough understanding of which search terms you should target, both from a volume and margin perspective, and be able to bid to value effectively. Remember to not fall into the “magic keyword” trap. Once you have enough data to make an informed decision, you may want to trim down the list of terms you are targeting against, and reallocate budget and adjust bids towards that smaller, higher volume subset, especially during high-traffic periods like Q4.

Conversely, in those few categories with top conversion rates outstripping advertising placement rates, marketers should see this as a market inefficiency they may be able to take advantage of. In these categories, it’s more likely you’ll find relevant, fairly popular search terms where a Sponsored Product ad for your product can rank high on the page, without breaking the bank on a CPC basis.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Andrew Waber is the director of insights at retail optimization platform (ROP) provider Teikametrics. In his current role, Andrew manages the analysis, editorial direction and strategy for Teikametrics’ reporting on online retail advertising and the larger online retail marketplace. Prior to his time at Teikametrics, Andrew served as the manager of data insights and media relations at Salsify, the manager of market insights and media relations for advertising automation software provider Nanigans, and as the market analyst and lead author of reports for Chitika Insights, the research arm of the Chitika online ad network. Andrew’s commentary on online trends has been quoted by the New York Times, Re/Code and The Guardian, among other outlets.