Katriona O’Leary, group manager for paid media at LinkedIn, shares her team’s learnings from a recent and highly effective digital video campaign — and how a test of video ad sequencing has impacted the platform’s global marketing strategy.

Stop me if this sounds familiar: you’re given a TV ad, a beautiful and lengthy piece of creative, and then it’s your job to figure out how to support it digitally.

Traditionally, that’s how marketers have approached campaigns — but at LinkedIn, we decided to turn it on its head. Instead of making campaign assets and then designing a media plan around them, we approached it channel-first.

After a successful campaign testing ad sequencing, we’ve changed not just our approach to digital video but our thinking on how we create and plan brand ads across all channels globally.

How to make a TV ad work for digital? Go back to the script

At the start, we had a great script. We’d carried out extensive research in the U.K. during 2019, although optimism in the jobs market was really low, it was completely disproportionate to the reality. That was the nugget we built our creative around.

In our first brand-led campaign, we wanted to showcase both the wealth of jobs on LinkedIn and the community aspect of the platform.

The initial answer was a 60-second TV spot, featuring real member stories. It was a lovely piece of content but with no clear call to action and no pay off until the end — ultimately, no one was going to watch it online. So we went back to the creative agency and devised a test to run the ads on YouTube too.

Optimising creative and planning for sequenced ads

It was the perfect case study for us to try video ad sequencing. With a new creative plan and storyboards for a tease, amplify, echo sequence in place, we were quickly able to bring all key stakeholders on board.

Perfecting our short-form creative helped us design better 30-second ads and improved our storytelling.

Using insights from Google’s Unskippable Labs, we produced a new set of ‘hero’ assets for sequencing on YouTube. These insights can be condensed into four key areas:

A narrative for video

Putting our logo upfront, ensuring on-screen text is designed for mobile first, mentioning LinkedIn in our voiceover, and, for YouTube, creating ads for sound on.

Building for attention

Giving viewers a reason to watch from the very beginning and knowing what to take away from the ad – whether that was people searching for jobs, building connections, or joining online communities – we used clear call-outs throughout.

Tuning for the audience

Using our research to make creative choices to better reflect the needs of our members and ultimately demonstrate empathy with our “In It Together” theme.

Planning for maximum impact

Utilising the right ad sequences to drive home the key call-outs around LinkedIn Marketing Solutions — all aligned with our KPIs.

Putting ad sequencing at the heart of brand campaigns

We put the original 60-second TV ad up against the new sequenced hero campaign, and hands down, the latter performed better for us. We saw increased consideration by 20%, ad recall up 178%, and a campaign that was 2.3X more cost efficient in driving brand lift. With YouTube, we also had the benefit of being able to connect with very specific audiences, using affinities or key indicators to find people who were currently looking for jobs.

From a brand perspective, this is now unquestionably how we approach online video. We take our script and design our creative specifically for the platform and for ad sequencing — it’s a core part of our marketing toolkit. What’s more, perfecting our short-form creative has helped us design better 30-second ads and improve our overall storytelling.

5 takeouts from 6 months of testing

Six months of digital video tests with Unskippable Labs has transformed LinkedIn’s approach to brand marketing. From our learnings, we’ve found five recommended actions for creating joined-up cross-channel campaigns that deliver maximum impact.

Stop chopping assets and start building

Take your script and work out how best to translate it for each platform’s strengths. Planning and creating channel-specific assets means you're not relying on one chopped-up video to do the heavy lifting.

Think TV and YouTube together for greater impact

The two mediums are not competing against each other. We were able to show to senior leadership that by investing smartly in both YouTube and TV, we could increase our incremental reach at no extra spend.

The more channels in your marketing mix, the better

Whether you use TV, YouTube, or other social platforms, every test we’ve run in the past two years has consistently shown that the more channels involved in your media plan, the better the lift and the better the reach.

Use your assets to keep the conversation going

Ensure you have a variety of creative and a social strategy underpinning it to build the conversation around a campaign. Think how you can tap into and offer value around trending subjects and issues that matter to your audience.

Sequencing beats single ads every time

A single ad, no matter how high reaching the frequency, is not going to beat ad sequencing. That’s been a transformative finding from our Unskippable Labs testing. Sequencing is now a core part of all our brand campaigns and paid media strategy.