The 4 Types of LinkedIn Matched Audiences (Explained)

LinkedIn Matched Audiences is a set of tools that was first introduced by LinkedIn in 2017 as a new way for businesses to connect with their target audience. It works by combining professional data with your own first-party data to re-target web visitors coming from your LinkedIn Ads. However, it also allows you to leverage the potential of your contact database by uploading lists of current accounts or contacts on LinkedIn, where you will be able to re-engage them with relevant advertising.

linkedin matched audiences

Today, we will learn all about the different types of Matched Audiences, and how to use them to re-target and re-engage your audience – step by step. Keep in mind that you need to have the Insight Tag installed before you start configuring any audience – otherwise, it won’t work.

Step 1 of LinkedIn Matched Audiences: Types

Type 1: Website Retargeting

The first and arguably most important type of LinkedIn Matched Audiences is Website Retargeting. It is very simple to set up, and it works by helping you gather essential information about all website visitors coming from your LinkedIn Ads. Once you’ve reached a volume of at least 300 unique visitors per audience, you will be able to use this audience in a campaign to re-engage your visitors with a second, more personalized impact. Let’s see how everything works step by step with a practical example.

To configure retargeting on LinkedIn, go to your Campaign Manager -> Account Assets -> Matched Audiences.

linkedin matched audiences

Now, click on Create Audience -> Website Audience:

create website audiences

To work with a simplified example, let’s say that you have an online shop that sells 2 products:

  • Laptops – with the brands HP, Sony and Dell.
  • Mobile phones – with the brands Samsung, Apple and Google Pixel.

Let’s say that you are running generic campaigns about laptops, but also specific campaigns about each brand – one for HP, one for Sony, and one for Dell. The same with mobile phones.

Each LinkedIn campaign will bring a certain number of clicks and respective website visitors – for example, 5000 people who were interested in buying a laptop and clicked on your generic campaign, and 1000 users who clicked on your Dell-specific campaign. If they didn’t end up buying any product, you will want to re-engage them with a second, more personalized impact – and the way to do that is by website retargeting.

One might think that the best way to do that is by creating a specific audience for each brand (or by product, depending on your specific case) – to ensure that later on, you will be able to distinguish visitors who are only interested in buying a Dell (for example), from users interested in any other laptop. And although you will indeed need to do that, this is not the full picture.

One important thing that you will need to keep in mind for your Website Retargeting Audiences is that they build very, very slowly. The reason why is because the user who is coming to your website needs to be signed in his LinkedIn profile at the same time he is browsing the specific page that you pasted while setting up the audience. And this makes the matching quite difficult – meaning that it might take some time to build up your audience to the minimum of 300 users (300 cookies).

For this reason, I recommend that you make specific audiences as well as generic audiences. For the online shop we are currently working with, it could look like that (obviously, everything is invented for the example):


all laptops example

This will be the generic audience for all the URLs that you want to include and that are related to all your laptop products, without any sort of differentiation by brand. You can include as many URLs and landing pages as you want. Because generic pages usually receive more traffic than specific ones (meaning that the page in which you have all brands of laptops receives more traffic than the Sony-specific page), it will build up much faster – and you can use it sooner for your campaigns.


Once you have two generic audiences – one for laptops and one for mobile phones (for this example, of course you can make many more depending on your business goals), you can start making specific ones by brand, product, or whatever you want to use in order to make personalized campaigns that will reach your audience:

sony example audiences hp laptops example

Once you have all you generic and specific audiences configured to meet your needs and business goals, you probably won’t be able to use them immediately. In fact, you will need to wait until they gather the minimum number of cookies required: 300.

Type 2: Contact Targeting

The Contact Targeting option allows you to upload your very own lists of professional and personal email addresses to match against LinkedIn members. If the email that your lead used to sign up for your newsletter is the same that he used to create his LinkedIn profile, there is a match – and it enables you to show tailored advertising to your current lists and databases of potential customers (or actual customers).

To upload your contacts from your CRM (or another platform in which they are located), go to Campaign Manager -> Account Assets -> Matched Audiences -> List upload: 

linkedin matched audiences - list upload

Now, download the contact list template, and follow the example in the Excel file to paste the emails of the contacts from the original source (which is really simple as it’s just email addresses):

linkedin matched audiences excel template

Make sure that your file remains in CSV format as it won’t upload in any other format. Once you’ve uploaded your  list, give it a name and click on Create – it will take up to 24 hours to process, and up to 24 hours to start delivery.

Now that you’ve uploaded your list of contacts, you are ready to use it in your campaigns to re-engage your current database with tailored and personalized advertising. Later on, you can use this audience to create lookalike audiences and discover users with a higher potential to buy from you because they have a similar profile to your current database.

Keep in mind: upload lists tend to shrink a lot because the emails that you provide don’t always match with the emails in LinkedIn’s database. For example, if you upload an email list of 20,000 people, don’t be surprised if it suddenly shrinks to 10,000 or even less – especially if you are using old lists and many people have changed their email addresses since then (or are using a new corporate email address).

For the Contact Targeting option, LinkedIn also offers various Data Integrations with other platforms such as Marketo, LiveRamp, Eloqua, Salesforce Advertising Studio, Microsoft Dynamics 360, and others. Click here to learn more about Data Integrations with LinkedIn.

Type 3: Account Targeting

This option is very similar to the Contact Targeting one, and you need to follow the exact same steps to get there – with the only difference that instead of downloading the contact template, you will need to download the account template:

account list template

This type of LinkedIn Matched Audiences allows you to upload CSV lists of company names and domains to match against LinkedIn pages. Once you’ve pasted the information into the template, all you need to do is to give it a name and upload it. Just as in Contact Targeting, it might take up to 24 hours to process, and another 24 to start serving.

Type 4: Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences allow you to create a new audience segment by building upon an existing matched segment – such as account lists, contact lists, or website audiences. However, I am not going to get into detail here because I’ve already made a dedicated article on this topic: Understanding LinkedIn Lookalike Audiences (2019).

Step 2 of LinkedIn Matched Audiences: Application

Now that you’ve created your audiences, you are ready to leverage their capabilities by using them in your advertising campaigns.

You can add them to your Sponsored Content campaign by clicking on Matched Audiences and selecting the website audience that you wish to use. Keep in mind that they have to be processed by the platform, and they need to have enough cookies:

matched audiences campaign

The more campaigns that you make, the better – as they bring additional traffic to your website and help you build your audiences faster. As you can see, you also have the option to upload your lists on the spot; however, you will still have to wait for them to be processed before activating the campaign. So it’s better to do it beforehand.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! Any feedback is welcome.

Hope you enjoyed the content, and thank you for your time!

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