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LinkedIn Ads Analysis | Job Title vs. Job Function & Seniority

Ranga Kaliyur
April 22, 2024

What’s in a title?

The ability to target LinkedIn audiences based on job titles is incredibly valuable to B2B marketers. Rather than blowing budgets on audiences that would never make a good fit for your business, LinkedIn’s job title targeting helps direct your ads towards relevant B2B buyer personas. For the most part, targeting via job titles on LinkedIn works well — but there’s always room for refinement. 

Accordingly, on this edition of Factors Labs, we:

This article takes inspiration from AJ Wilcox’s in-depth review and analysis around the same topic. We strongly recommend checking it out here. For context, AJ’s study finds that on average, LinkedIn understands only 55% of job titles. Woah. 

LinkedIn job titles can be…weird

Between “Digital Overlords”, “Sales Ninjas”, and “Chief Heart Officers” LinkedIn job titles can be…weird. Given that job title is a freeform field on LinkedIn, users can input anything they’d like as their job title — and what they like tends to be, well, creative.

The Linkedin Effect
Artist: Piotr Romek

You may use a standard title (“Business Development Manager”) or something cute (“Meeting Getter”) for the same job — and while it’s all fun and games, LinkedIn (understandably) gets pretty confused. What do all these titles mean? Which titles refer to the same function? What’s a team guiding spirit? 

As a result of the freedom bestowed upon users, targeting job titles can (and does) become a mess. As we’ll see in the next section, LinkedIn already does a commendable job of grouping similar job titles — but as we’ll see in the subsequent section, there’s room for further optimization. 

LinkedIn Super Titles to the rescue?

As it stands, LinkedIn tries its best to make sense of oddball job titles based on job function and seniority with what they call Super Titles. Super Title refers to LinkedIn’s overarching grouping of similar titles under umbrellas of job titles. While super titles are not exactly public facing, they likely align with the Job Title options you see when configuring your LinkedIn campaigns.

Search bar interface for adding job titles with examples provided below
Options for selecting audience profile language and categories like industries and job titles.

In theory, adopting Job Functions (marketing, sales, HR, etc) and Job Seniorities (CXO, VP, manager, etc) as a proxy for Job Titles (CMO, Sales VP, HR manager, etc) should result in a perfect 1-1 audience match. But given that we have no visibility into or control over LinkedIn’s Job Titles grouping logic, ever so often, the results are erroneous. AJ highlights one such example: 

“The biggest weakness we’ve seen is, for some reason, the job title Marketing Specialist gets rolled up to Chief Marketing Officer. So we had a client where we were targeting CMOS, and we noticed that a lot of Marketing Specialists were coming through their forms. And so of course, we did the great agency thing, we went in, and we excluded the job title of Marketing Specialist. And then all of a sudden, the whole campaign was too small to run. We were targeting CMOS, specifically by job title and as soon as we excluded Marketing Specialists, boom, the whole audience went away.” - AJ WilCox

While LinkedIn continually improves its data mining capabilities, there’s a good chance that using job titles alone, will result in suboptimal audience building. Instead, using the broader (and often, cheaper) Job Functions targeting option filtered down by Seniority may work out significantly better. Of course, this also depends on the nature of your campaign. There’s an argument to be made in favor of Job Titles too but for now, let’s quantify our claim by comparing audience sizes between Job Titles alone vs. Job Functions + Seniority.

Crunching the numbers: Job Title vs. Job Function & Seniority

We’ll be following a similar methodology to AJ Wilcox in measuring the difference in audience sizes between Job Title targeting and Job Function & Seniority targeting. The difference is we’ll be conducting this analysis specific to US-based Technology, Information, and Internet companies.

Ad campaign setup interface with location and industry filters and forecasted results.


  1. Decide on a typical Job Titles/Functions (Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success)
  2. Pair each of these functions with Seniority (Manager, VP, C-level)
  3. Collect audience size and compare against corresponding result with Job Titles

Job Title Audience Size Job Function + Seniority Audience Size %
Marketing Manager 110,000 Marketing + Manager 68,000 162%
CMO 9,200 Marketing + CXO 24,000 38%
Marketing VP 8,800 Marketing + VP 21,000 42%
Sales Manager 100,000 Sales + Manager 160,000 62%
VP of Sales 17,000 Sales + VP 40,000 42%
CSO/CRO 7,900 Sales + CXO 15,000 52%
Customer Success Manager 35,000 Customer Success + Manager 56,000 62%
VP of Customer Success 2,700 Customer Success + VP 8,700 31%
Total 290,600 Total 392,700 73%

In every instance (except Marketing Manager), creating an audience using Job Functions + Seniority results in a significantly larger audience as compared to audience sizes with Job Title. Here is AJ’s explanation for the anomaly with Marketing Manager

I’m pretty sure that’s a weakness in LinkedIn job function targeting, because Marketing Directors have 490,000 and generally, there are more managers than there are directors. So I think the actual size on LinkedIn of Marketing Managers should be somewhere around the, like 900,000 or a million. But the targeting only showed me what it showed me so that was a weird one for sure.  - AJ Wilcox

If we ignore this anomaly, using Job Function + Seniority results in an audience size that’s nearly twice (1.8x) larger than the audience built via Job Titles. That’s big! Based on the objective and nature of your LinkedIn campaigns, this could really turn your ads performance around. 

So what’s the right approach to targeting job titles? 

The numbers are clear: Job Functions + Seniority results in larger audiences than job titles alone. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should discount job titles all together. In fact, we still strongly recommend job titles for tighter, super narrow audience building. Rather, the purpose of this article is to highlight that if audience volume is the objective, there is a better alternative to job titles. 

The hidden tax of LinkedIn

Note that even this solution is not  perfect. There are further challenges that arrises, regardless of whether you're targeting titles, functions, or seniority. If you advertise on LinkedIn, you may have noticed that even if you opt to target, say marketing managers or SDRS, your ads tend to be served to other seniorities (CMOs, Sales VP, etc) and other functions (Customer success, product managers, etc). This is because most LinkedIn users do not close their previous employment. As a result, LinkedIn collects historical data in it's segmentation process and fails to account for changes in employment.

"We're giving you job titles and companies to target — why aren't you targeting them?"

This issue occurs at a company level too. For example, if an employee at HubSpot decides to start their own small business (or vice versa), the fact that they were formerly employed at HubSpot (or vice versa) confuses LinkedIn's data collecting algorithms. As a result, your audience lists may either be incomplete or excessively bloated. Either way, not a great scenario. Accordingly, we've observed a hidden tax of 5-7% bleed in terms of account and user level targeting. This is something we'll, at least for the moment, have to accept when advertising on LinkedIn — especially since the benefits so strongly outweigh the limitations.

And there you have it! If you’re eager for more data-driven insights on LinkedIn Ads, catch our other articles here:

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