The 8 LinkedIn Ad Formats & Best Ways to Use Them

Discover all the 8 LinkedIn ad formats and how to use them correctly for generating more leads in this article!

With more than 500 million members, LinkedIn is undoubtedly one of the most important social media platforms for advertising.

It is especially efficient for B2B companies – in fact, statistics show that over 80% of social media generated B2B leads come from LinkedIn.

linkedin ad formats

However, it is also not a secret that LinkedIn advertising is far from being cheap compared to other social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

For this reason, it is extremely important to know all LinkedIn Ad formats and in what case is the best to use them to achieve your goals while making the most out of your budget. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into them:

What LinkedIn ad formats are available for companies in 2021?

linkedin ad formats - single image ad

Currently, companies can choose from 8 different LinkedIn ad formats:

Ad format Description
Single image ad Also known as Sponsored Content, they consist of a LinkedIn ad copy and a single image.
Carousel image ad A collection of at least 2 image cards that follow one after another in a visual way.
Video ad Companies can also go for a video format to generate more brand awareness.
Text ad Text-based ads that can show up in the right column of your feed, or on top of the page.
Spotlight ad Personalized ads that combine users’ profile data to draw their attention.
Message ad Message ads allow companies to send messages right into the user’s inbox.
Conversation ad Conversation ads allow you to create chatbot-like conversations with your audience.
Event ad Event ads give you the opportunity to promote your LinkedIn live events.

 

In just a couple of minutes, we will see all LinkedIn ad formats in details individually – what they are, where they appear on your audience’s feed, and when should you use each format depending on your goals.

Also, I will show you LinkedIn’s bid suggestion for a specific segmentation to compare which type is the cheapest and which one – the most expensive.

linkedin ad formats - single image ad

For this example, our audience will be simple – Managers living in New York that have the job function of Business Development.

Which amounts to a total audience of approximately 53 000 people. By checking the suggested bid that appears at the bottom of our Campaign Setup page, we will be able to get an idea of which ad format has the highest Cost Per Click / View / Send.

Of course, this is just an exercise to get the overall idea, and may not reflect reality for each particular case.

Keep in mind that this will vary depending on your niche, industry, target audience, and most importantly – other advertisers. After all, the recommended bid is calculated based on what other similar advertisers are bidding.

What are the prons and cons of each ad format?

Before we zoom in on our LinkedIn ad formats, let’s see what are the pros and cons of each one so you can get a better idea of what would be the best way to use each one of them.

Ad format Pros Cons
Single image ad Blends with LinkedIn’s feed Most competitive ad format
Carousel image ad Breaks the traditional dynamic of the feed Requires more time and attention from the user
Video ad Entertaining; more space for information Converts less; users don’t click much on videos
Text ad Cheapest ad format The least visual; doesn’t draw the attention
Spotlight ad Dynamic; use image from the user’s profile Extremely limited ad space for advertisers
Message ad More direct, making the ad feel more personal Can be intrusive if not use properly
Conversation ad Highly dynamic; mimics actual user interaction Requires time and proactiveness from the user
Event ad Makes it extremely easy to promote your live events; Doesn’t work for events organized outside LinkedIn

 

As you can see from the table, there are advantages and disadvantages to all LinkedIn ad formats. However, let’s take a look at each one of them individually before jumping to conclusions:

1. Single Image Ad (Sponsored Content)

  • Ideal for: lead generation
  • Recommended bid type (for our example): $18.69
  • Appears: on your feed
  • Banner size: 1200×628
  • Introductory text: Max. 600 characters

Sponsored Content is probably the most popular and most effective form of LinkedIn ad formats. It appears on the feed of your target audience, integrating seamlessly around their organic content.

In fact, it camouflages so well that you only know that the post is Sponsored by the word Promoted right below the company’s name:

linkedin ad format - single image ad

LinkedIn ad formats: Single image ad

sponsored content example

This type of advertising usually works well for practically everything – promoting an event or a webinar, a B2B product or service, ebooks, etc.

Sponsored Content is the most versatile among LinkedIn ad formats. Because it blends so well with LinkedIn’s feed, it is less intrusive, meaning that it can draw the attention without making it so obvious that it’s an ad.

However, because it’s so popular, it also has a lot of competition – which means that prices are very competitive as well.

There are two ways of using Sponsored Content – you can either send the user to your own landing page, or create a LinkedIn Lead Gen form that automatically fills out data from the user’s LinkedIn profile.

2. Carousel Image Ad

  • Ideal for: displaying product portfolios or resources such as ebooks
  • Recommended bid type (for our example): $18.69
  • Appears: on your feed
  • Banner size: 10 image cards of size 1080×1080
  • Introductory text: max. 255 characters

Carousel Image Ads are the most visual among LinkedIn ad formats. They are perfect for displaying your product portfolio, resource collection, or showing off your ebook in a creative and interesting way.

Of course, there are no limitations – you can use them for a variety of purposes. You should use at least 2 images, but no more than 10. Here is an interesting example that I found:

carousel ad linkedin

LinkedIn ad formats: Carousel ad by Salesforce

The downside (or opportunity?) of this ad format is that the user will have to click manually on the arrows to see all images. This means that your ad will have to be captivating from the first image.

Otherwise, he might just continue scrolling down without seeing your whole Carousel ad. On the positive note, if you managed to capture his attention from the beginning, he could potentially arrive to your landing by clicking on any card (not only the last one).

As you can see, in this case the suggested ad bid by LinkedIn is the same as in Sponsored Content.

Also, if you want to see more Carousel ad examples, you can check my full collection in this article.

3. Video ad

  • Ideal for: brand awareness
  • Recommended bid type (for our example): $18.69
  • Appears: on your feed
  • Video size: Aspect ratio between 9:16 and 16:9 or 1:1
  • Introductory size: Max. 600 characters

Video ads on LinkedIn are a great way to increase brand awareness. However, in my experience they are among the least efficient LinkedIn ad formats when it comes to lead generation.

On one hand, users don’t typically associate them with having to click somewhere to fill out a landing form. They just stop for a minute, watch the video, and continue scrolling down.

On another hand, clicking on the video doesn’t take the user to a landing page. The only way to get there is to click the CTA button right below the video:

video ad linkedin

LinkedIn ad formats: Video ad by L’Oreal

Which, I think we can all agree, is not the most attention-grabbing detail in the ad. The user has to be genuinely interested in your product after watching the video to click on the button. But this is not necessarily a bad thing – this way, you discover users who are truly interested in learning more about it.

Don’t get me wrong; video ads can be very efficient for brand awareness and maybe even lead generation if your video is amazing. But in my opinion, they are quite expensive to make, and not always have the best ROI.

Especially if your budget is limited, you might want to be careful about its distribution. But hey, after all, it’s a matter of trial and error! So you should definitely give it a try.

Also, LinkedIn doesn’t charge for impressions, just for clicks – and in this case, it’s still the same as in Sponsored Content and Carousel. You can check more LinkedIn video ad examples here.

4. Text ad

  • Ideal for: brand awareness
  • Recommended bid type (for our example): $9.79
  • Appears: top of the page / right column
  • Ad headline size: Max. 25 characters
  • Ad description size: Max 75 characters

LinkedIn text ads are the most simple and the least visual ones among all LinkedIn ad formats. They usually appear on top of the page:

linkedin text ads

linkedin text adsOr in the right column of your feed:

linkedin text ads

Compared to other ad formats, they include little to no visual elements. They are also significantly cheaper – as you can see in our example, the suggested bid for this format is $9.79. This is almost two times less than the bid for Sponsored Content, Carousel, and even Video.

linkedin text ads

Personally, I haven’t had much experience with this type of ads, so I have no particular observations. But, considering that they aren’t very visual and quite “cheap”, I would say that they are better for brand awareness rather than lead generation.

They are also a good option if you have a powerful ad statement that can fit into a single sentence. Otherwise, it is quite difficult to catch the user’s attention with text ads!

linkedin text ads

For more LinkedIn text ads examples, click here.

5. Spotlight ad

  • Ideal for: job position offering / increase of following / lead generation
  • Recommended bid type (for our example): $5.89
  • Appears: right column
  • Ad headline size: Max. 50 characters
  • Ad description size: Max. 70 characters

Next, we continue our LinkedIn ad formats with Spotlight ads.

Spotlight ads appear in the right column of your feed and I find them quite attention-grabbing. They automatically extract the user’s LinkedIn profile image and place it into the ad:

linkedin spotlight ad - linkedin ad formats

Which, of course, immediately grabs your attention as you see your own photo within the ad. Although it’s a simple and automatic process for LinkedIn’s platform, it feels personalized to the user, which is always a good thing.

Spotlight ads are ideal for announcing open job positions that your audience could be a good fit for. They are also a good option for companies who want to increase their LinkedIn following quicker than organic ways.

And of course, you can simply use them for lead generation :

LinkedIn ad formats: Spotlight ads for lead generation 

These ads, although quite captivating, are very expensive as well! As you can see, the recommended bid by LinkedIn in our example is $5.89 – which is significantly higher than all the rest.

In terms of different LinkedIn ad formats, there is also an additional variety for Spotlight ads that you can opt for if you choose the objective Job Applicants.

linkedin ad formats - job application opportunities

This option isn’t available for any other objective, and it allows you to promote your open positions:

Single job ad is a very unique ad format, and it isn’t really comparable to any LinkedIn ad formats because it allows a very specific type of action. You can’t really promote your job positions within LinkedIn with the rest of the formats.

7. Message Ad

  • Ideal for: lead generation / reaching very specific audiences
  • Recommended bid type (for our example): $0.36 per send
  • Appears: in your target audience’s messaging inbox
  • Banner size: 300×250
  • Text size: Max. 500 characters
  • Subject line: Max. 60 characters

Next on our list of LinkedIn ad formats are Message ads.

Message Ads, also known as Sponsored InMails, are ads that are delivered directly to your target audience’s inbox. They are composed of various elements:

linkedin ad formats - sponsored inmail

The main element is the core text that appears in the center of the message. It usually includes more than one CTA – one in the beginning, in the upper left corner, and one at the bottom of the InMail.

InMails are usually (but not necessarily) accompanied by a visual element – a square banner in the right column of your inbox. This way, companies can increase their ad visibility and catch the user’s attention in multiple ways at the same time. However, it is important to keep in mind that users can’t send a response to the sender.

This ad format is usually recommended for highly targeted audiences that you want to reach in a more direct way. LinkedIn is extremely careful with spam – so users usually don’t receive more than one Sponsored InMail from a brand within the same month.

Sponsored Inmail 2

As you can see, the suggested bid for a Sponsored InMail in this case is approximately 36 cents. This might sound like a small bid compared to other LinkedIn ad formats. However, InMail works in a different way than other forms of advertising.

Click here if you want to see more Sponsored InMail examples.

8. Conversation ad

  • Ideal for: adapting your offer to the user’s personal needs
  • Recommended bid type (for our example): $0.36 per send
  • Appears: in your target audience’s messaging inbox

Conversation ads are among the newest LinkedIn ad formats, and they allow you to drive leads through automatized, chatbot-like conversations with the audience. They are delivered straight to the user’s inbox.

When creating your conversation path, you can either start from scratch, or select from a variety of templates including:

LinkedIn ad formats: Conversation ads

On the good side, conversation ads give you the opportunity to better understand your audience. LinkedIn provides you with detailed click reporting that shows how many people clicked on your conversation boxes, and how engaged they were with the conversation.

On the negative side, they require a level of engagement that your audience might not be willing to have with a chatbot. Of course, this isn’t necessarily something negative – it also serves as a filter to see who is really engaged and interested in your product.

However, you should take this into account when evaluating your Return on Investment – with Conversation ads, your leads might be fewer, but they will be of much higher quality since they are already well engaged with your business.

9. Event ads

  • Ideal for: promoting your LinkedIn live events
  • Recommended bid type (for our example): $18.69
  • Appears: on the user’s feed
  • Introductory text size: Max. 600 characters

Last on our list of LinkedIn ad formats are Event ads.

Event ads are the newest ad format that the social platform just added to their portfolio, and they allow you to promote your LinkedIn live events.

Live events are events that are created and broadcasted directly on LinkedIn’s feed, without sending your audience to a third-party website. You can create them easily from your Company Page (you should be logged in as admin):

LinkedIn ad formats: Event ads

You can choose to host these events online or face-to-face.

They look a lot like Sponsored Content on the user’s feed (sorry, I didn’t manage to find an example), and their price is the same as well, at least in my own audience example.

In a similar manner to Job applicant ads, they aren’t really comparable to the rest of LinkedIn ad formats because they serve a very specific function.

Choosing the right ad format

Now that you are familiar with all LinkedIn ad formats, you are ready to start testing them to find out which one works the best for you.

Despite my opinions and observations, the best option is to always try all of them for yourself. After all, none is a one-size-fits-all! What works best for a company in the finance industry might not be the best option for a company in the healthcare sector.

It is also important to remember that once you’ve selected your ad format when creating a campaign, it can’t be changed later. Neither objectives nor formats can be modified once the campaign is saved. So make sure to have your campaign carefully planned beforehand.

My Experience with LinkedIn ad formats

To finish this article, I wanted to share a little bit of my personal experience with different types of advertising on LinkedIn.

From my experience and observations, Sponsored Content is probably the most efficient ad type in terms of lead generation and return on investment. In comparison, Spotlight ads are also effective but significantly more expensive.

On the other hand, InMail is cheaper but requires a higher investment at a time – and I would use it for a more direct approach in a context when decision making takes more time.

Do you want to become an expert in LinkedIn advertising? Get my ebook “The Complete Guide to LinkedIn Advertising!

Well, this was all from me for today! As always, I hope you enjoyed the content, and thank you for taking the time to read my article on all LinkedIn ad formats! Also, don’t hesitate to leave me your comments, questions, personal observations, or anything that you want to share in the comments below. See you in the next article!


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