The Complete Guide to LinkedIn Ads in 2023

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The Complete Guide to LinkedIn Ads in 2023


Without careful planning, advertising on social media can sometimes feel like shouting into the void (or throwing money directly into a shredder). With a bit of foresight, though, using LinkedIn ads can guarantee your brand’s voice makes its way to the right audience—an audience of influential decision-makers, at that.

Among LinkedIn’s 875 million+ members, your ads have the potential to reach an audience of 808 million. Even more impactful, four out of five members have the power to influence business decisions. These movers and shakers also have 2x the buying power of typical online audiences.

Follow along with our guide to LinkedIn ads to discover the types of ads available and the kinds of goals they can help you achieve. We’ll also walk you through creating an ad on LinkedIn and share some of our best tips and tricks to boost your conversion rates.

Types of LinkedIn ads

Advertising is one of the best ways to use LinkedIn for business. Choosing the right type of ad for your goal is an important first step.

Here are the types of LinkedIn ads you can choose from when setting up your paid content.

Sponsored Content, also known as native ads, shows up in your audiences’ LinkedIn feed, regardless of whether they’re scrolling on mobile or their desktop. LinkedIn labels these ads as “promoted” to distinguish them from regular content.

When advertising with Sponsored Content, you have the following ad format options:

  • Single image ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Event ads
  • Document ads
  • Thought leader ads

Here’s an example of a single-image sponsored content ad as it appears in the desktop feed:

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Sponsored Messaging (previously known as Sponsored InMail) lets you directly advertise to LinkedIn members in their inboxes.

While 89% of consumers prefer that businesses stay in touch via messaging, only 48% of companies currently interact with customers and prospects this way. If you want to take advantage of this untapped opportunity, take note of the recent changes to Sponsored Messaging.

For starters, members now have a two-tabbed inbox. One tab is for “Focused” conversations, while the second tab is called “Other.”

Secondly, LinkedIn is slowly converting all message ads into conversation ads. This means the older version of Message ads will no longer be available in your Campaign Manager. With conversation ads, you can increase your engagement by adding multiple CTA buttons to your message.

Here’s how a sponsored conversation ad would appear in a member’s inbox (note the CTA buttons at the end of the message):

USC MS in Digital Media Management Sponsored Message

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Another thing to note: LinkedIn has a cap on how many members will receive a Sponsored Message ad per month. For instance, a member of your target audience won’t receive one of your ads more than twice within a short timeframe.

Dynamic Ads

Dynamic Ads run on the right rail of LinkedIn and are personalized to speak to audiences directly. When a Dynamic Ad pops up in a member’s feed, personal details, such as their photo, employer’s name and job title, are reflected to them.

(Sound a little startling? Don’t worry: if members find these ads too personal, they can change their settings to hide these details.)

Follower Ads, Spotlight Ads, and Sponsored Ads are a few types of dynamic ads. Below is an example of a Spotlight Ad as it appears on the right side of the feed.

GRIN Influencer Marketing news and insights dynamic ad

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Text Ads

Text ads are a form of PPC (pay-per-click) advertising on LinkedIn. Text ads appear along the top and right-hand side of LinkedIn’s desktop feed. They’re a good option if you’re looking to build strong leads with a professional demographic.

Considering that 58% of marketers say that improving lead generation is one of their top digital marketing goals, LinkedIn Text Ads can be a way to cast a wide net on a budget.

Promoted Content MailChimp Cornell MBA and Drexel MFA

Lead Gen Forms

Lead gen forms are another type of advertising on LinkedIn that businesses can use to collect information from potential leads.

LinkedIn’s lead gen forms option allows you to gather information from members using pre-filled forms. You can add these forms to sponsored messaging or sponsored content campaigns.

FixDex Webinar Series Customer Relationships

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LinkedIn ad objectives

LinkedIn uses objective-based advertising, which helps advertisers build ad campaigns around specific business goals.

Businesses can place ads for all three stages of a sales funnel, from awareness to conversion.

Let’s break down the three main types of objectives below.

Awareness

Want to get your name out there without necessarily making a direct sale? Start with an awareness ad to get your brand on the tip of people’s tongues. These top-of-funnel campaigns help get audiences talking about your products, services and brand.

You can also use these impression-based campaigns to gain more followers, increase views, and spark greater engagement.

Most of LinkedIn’s available ad formats can successfully generate awareness, but the types that are best to use if you want to achieve this objective are:

  • Single image ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Follower ads
  • Event ads
  • Spotlight ads

Consideration

If your audience is already somewhat familiar with your brand, opt for a consideration ad.

Consideration ads are optimized to help advertisers meet the following goals:

  • Website visits: Get more eyeballs on your website and landing pages.
  • Engagement: Encourage likes, comments and shares, as well as visits to other social media platforms and websites.
  • Video views: Share your business story, your latest product, or a day-in-the-life via video.

To nurture these mid-funnel leads, consider using the following LinkedIn ad formats:

  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Conversation ads
  • Text ads

Conversion

If your audience is already familiar with your brand and ready to make a decision, it’s time to pull out the big guns. When you want to generate leads, drive home a sale, or reach job applicants, consider a conversion ad.

They can help meet these three objectives:

  • Lead generation: Gain leads on LinkedIn by using forms pre-filled with LinkedIn profile data.
  • Website conversions: Inspire more website visitors to download an ebook, sign up for a newsletter, or purchase a product.
  • Job applicants: Spread the word about your company’s latest job opening with a job post.

The best ad formats to use if you want to achieve these objectives are:

  • Conversation ads
  • Lead gen forms
  • Carousel ads
  • Job ads
  • Text ads

11 LinkedIn ad formats

LinkedIn has 11 different ad formats to help you meet your ad objectives.

This section will break down each ad format and explain which goals each ad can help you achieve. We’ll also share ad examples and specs so you can nail your LinkedIn advertising planning.

Single image ads

Single image ads appear on LinkedIn’s home page and mostly look like regular content on the platform. However, these paid ads are marked as “promoted” to distinguish them from other unpaid content.

(Perhaps unsurprisingly, single image ads only include one image.)

Western Governors University accredited online degree

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Goals: Brand awareness, website visits, engagement, website conversions, lead generation and job applicants

LinkedIn single image ad specs:

Name of ad (optional): Up to 255 characters

Introductory text: Up to 150 characters to avoid shortening (this includes spaces, punctuation, and emojis. If you really need the space, you can use up to 600 characters)

Destination URL: Up to 2,000 characters

Ad image: A JPG, GIF or PNG file 5MB or smaller; the maximum image size is 7680 x 4320 pixels. (Note: If you use an animated GIF, images must be shorter than 300 frames)

Headline: Up to 70 characters to avoid shortening (but can use up to 200 characters)

Description: Up to 100 characters to avoid shortening (but can use up to 300 characters)

Find more details about LinkedIn single image ad specs here.

Carousel ads

LinkedIn carousel ads use a swipeable row of cards to tell your brand’s story, showcase products, or share insights. Carousels are great for increasing engagement, but the key is to use strong visuals to keep your readers swiping.

The Cigna Group student and graduate opportunities carousel ad

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Goals: Brand awareness, website visits, engagement, website conversions, and lead generation.

LinkedIn carousel ad specs:

Name of ad: Up to 255 characters

Introductory text: Up to 150 characters to avoid shortening on some devices (255 total character limit)

Cards: At least two and up to 10 cards.

Max file size per card: 10 MB

Max image dimension per card: 4320 x 4320 pixels

Rich media formats: JPG, PNG, GIF (non-animated only)

Headline text per card: No more than two lines

Character limits: 45-character limit on ads leading to a destination URL; 30-character limit on ads with a Lead Gen Form CTA

drive traffic to website or landing pages and collect leads with targeted CTAs

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Find more details about LinkedIn carousel ad specs here.

Conversation ads

Conversation ads on LinkedIn work kind of like flowcharts. They offer a choose-your-own-path experience for audiences (think of those choose-your-own-adventure books but for advertising).

You can set up multiple CTAs within a conversation ad. Once you start a conversation, your audience can select a response that speaks most to them. This type of ad lets you showcase products and services while also encouraging event or webinar sign-ups.

Conversation ad LinkedIn demand generation campaigns

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Goals: Brand awareness, website visits, engagement, website conversions, and lead generation.

LinkedIn conversation ad specs:

Name of ad: Up to 255 characters

Banner creative (optional and for desktop only): Up to 300 x 250 pixels. JPEG or PNG.

Custom footer and terms and conditions (only): Up to 20,000 characters

Introductory message: Up to 8,000 characters

Image (optional): 250 x 250 pixels using either JPEG or PNG

CTA text: Up to 25 characters

CTA buttons per message: Up to five buttons

Message text: Up to 8,000 characters

Find more details about LinkedIn conversation ad specs here.

Document ads

Similar to how you can use content for lead generation on your website, LinkedIn Document Ads allow you to do the same thing on the platform.

With document ads, you can share PDFs, slideshares, presentations, and other long-form documents to collect member information and generate leads.

Types of documents you can share include whitepapers, reports, how-to guides, and more.

Constant Contact Marketing Platform Document Ad

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Goals: Brand awareness, website visits, engagement, website conversions, and lead generation.

LinkedIn document ad specs:

Name of ad: Up to 255 characters

Headline: Up to 70 characters

Introductory message: Up to 150 characters

File type: PDF, DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX

File size: 100 MB

Number of pages: Under 10 pages (300 pages maximum or 1 MM words)

Find more details about LinkedIn document ad specs here.

Video ads

LinkedIn video ads can help you promote thought leadership, highlight your customer experience, reveal new products, offer an insider look at company culture, and anything else you can dream up.

Use video ads on LinkedIn as an opportunity to show, not tell, your brand’s story.

Hulu Abbott Elementary

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Goals: Video views

LinkedIn video ad specs:

Name of ad (optional): Up to 225 characters

Video headline: Up to 70 characters to avoid shortening (200 max characters)

Introductory text (optional): Up to 600 characters

Video length: 3 seconds to 30 minutes (high-performing LinkedIn video ads tend to be 15 seconds or less)

File size: 75KB to 200MB

Frame rate: Less than 30 frames per second

Aspect ratio:

  • Horizontal/landscape: 16:9 (1.77)
  • Square: 1:1
  • Vertical: 4:5 (.80)
  • Vertical: 9:16 (0.56)

Find more details about LinkedIn video ad specs here.

Event ads

To make an event ad on LinkedIn, you must first create a LinkedIn event on your page.

This type of ad campaign can help you increase your event’s reach and highlight important details.

US Japan council annual conference

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Goals: Brand awareness, website or landing page visits, engagement, and event sign-ups.

LinkedIn event ad specs:

Name of ad (optional): Up to 225 characters

Introductory text: Up to 150 characters to avoid shortening (max of 600 characters on desktop).

Image: The image thumbnail you used in your LinkedIn Event will automatically be used for your ad.

Find more details about LinkedIn event ad specs here.

Follower ads

Follower ads are a type of dynamic ad personalized to your audience. These ads promote your LinkedIn Page to others to encourage them to hit that follow button.

Follower Ad Content Optimizer

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Goals: Brand awareness, website visits, and engagement.

LinkedIn follower ad specs:

Ad description: Up to 70 characters

Ad headline: Choose a pre-set option or write up to 50 characters

Company name: Up to 25 characters

Ad image: Company logo; 100 x 100px for JPG or PNG

Find more details about LinkedIn follower ad specs here.

Lead generation forms

Lead gen forms, short for lead generation forms, are available for message ads and sponsored content. These ads can help you discover more qualified leads.

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For instance, if you’re hosting a webinar, you can connect a lead gen form to your CTA, which will automatically input your target audiences’ profile data. After, you can download your leads from LinkedIn’s ads manager or integrate LinkedIn to work with your own CRM.

Goals: Lead generation

LinkedIn lead gen form specs:

Form name: Up to 256 characters

Headline: Up to 60 characters

Details: Up to 160 characters total

Privacy policy text (optional): Up to 2,000 characters

Call-to-Action: 20 characters

Confirmation message: 300 characters

You can learn more about lead gen forms here.

Spotlight ads

Spotlight ads highlight your products, services, content and more. When members click a spotlight ad, they’re immediately directed to your landing page or website.

Follower Ad Content Optimizer

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Like follower ads, these dynamic ads use personalization to connect with audiences.

Goals: Brand awareness, website visits, engagement, lead generation, and job applicants.

LinkedIn spotlight ad specs:

Ad description: Up to 70 characters

Ad headline: Up to 50 characters

Company name: Up to 25 characters

Image: Preferred size is 100 x 100px for JPG or PNG

CTA: Up to 18 characters

Custom background (optional): Must be exactly 300 x 250px and 2MB or less

Find more details about LinkedIn spotlight ad specs here.

Single job ads

Single job ads promote opportunities directly in your audience’s newsfeeds. If you’ve been struggling to find that perfect candidate or always seem to be in hiring mode, these ads are the way to go.

Web Editor Copywriter Whole Foods Market

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It also doesn’t hurt that LinkedIn internal data shows that these ads provide a 25% increase in the average click-to-apply rate.

Goals: Job applications

LinkedIn job ad specs:

Name of ad: Up to 255 characters

Introductory text: Up to 150 characters to avoid shortening of text (desktop max of 600 characters); any legally required language must go here

Find more details about LinkedIn single job ad specs here.

Thought leader ads

Thought leader ads are one of the newest ad formats LinkedIn has introduced. These ads are used to promote content from a thought leader, like an executive, within an organization.

When the promoted content shows up in members’ feeds, it will have a label that shows which company is promoting it.

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Creating a thought leader ad on LinkedIn is similar to boosting an ad on Instagram. The content must have already been created by the thought leader for the company to promote it.

Unlike other ads, you can’t add headlines, explanatory text, or CTAs to thought leader ads.

Goals: Brand awareness and engagement

LinkedIn thought leader ad specs:

Ad format: A thought leader ad must be a single image ad or video ad

Headline: You cannot add a headline (the ad is based on the original post)

Introductory text: You cannot add text (the ad is based on the original post)

CTA: There are no call-to-action buttons on a thought leader ad

Find more details about LinkedIn thought leader ad specs here.

How to get started with advertising on LinkedIn

To create your own LinkedIn ad, either for the first time or to ramp up your existing advertising strategy, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Create a LinkedIn Page (if you don’t have one already)

You need a LinkedIn company page in order to create Sponsored Content and ads. If you need help setting one up, read our guide on LinkedIn for business.

Oh, and if you’re a visual learner, check out the short video below:

Step 2: Log in to Campaign Manager or create an account.

The Campaign Manager platform, also known as LinkedIn’s ad manager, will be home to all your advertising activities, such as running campaigns and managing your budget.

Campaign Manager platform

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Step 3: Select your ad objective

Think about what type of action you want to inspire among your audience. Your options, as we described above, are awareness, consideration, or conversions.

ad objective awareness consideration conversions

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Step 4: Choose your target audience

First, you must choose a location, and then you have the option of adding a job title, company name, industry type and personal or professional interests.

target audience with location and member groups

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You can also choose to connect with people you already know through Matched Audiences. You can do this by retargeting people who’ve visited your website or uploading a list of email contacts.

Psstt: Need help creating a Matched Audience? LinkedIn’s got a handy video tutorial on just that.

Step 5: Select an ad format

Depending on your chosen objective, you can pick from Sponsored Content options (single-image, carousel or video ads), Event Ads, Text Ads, or Conversation Ads.

choose preferred ad format

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Step 6: Create your budget and schedule

Campaign Manager will provide a budget range based on other competing bids for your ideal audience.

The initial 2-4 weeks are typically considered a learning experience to determine what works (or doesn’t). For testing, LinkedIn recommends a daily budget of at least $100 or a monthly budget of $5,000. For new advertisers, LinkedIn recommends $25 for the minimum spend.

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Step 7: Start building your ad

If you opt for Sponsored Content or Text Ads, the Campaign Manager will share previews so you can get a sense of the final look of your ad. In the case of Message Ads, you’ll be able to send yourself a test message.

build ad in Campaign Manager

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Step 8: Provide payment information

Before you can debut your ad to the world, you must provide payment information. Once that’s done, you’re ready to launch!

ad payment information with forecasted results

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Step 9: Measure performance

When you sign in to Campaign Manager, the first thing you’ll see is the reporting dashboard for your LinkedIn ads. From here, you can review performance metrics, access charts and demographics, or export a CSV report. This is also where you’d go for conversion tracking.

If you’re only running ads on LinkedIn, the platform’s native tool might be enough.

But if you want to create, publish, and monitor ad performance across multiple platforms, an all-in-one tool like Hootsuite is your best option.

Engagement data in Hootsuite Analytics dashboard

Book a free Hootsuite demo today

LinkedIn ads best practices

Last but certainly not least, here are the criteria LinkedIn itself says are vital to crafting a successful ad campaign on the platform.

Figure out your target audience

On LinkedIn, defining where in the world you want your ads to be seen is mandatory. Your desired location is actually the only field that’s mandatory when setting up your ad campaign. You can go broad by only designating the country, state or province, or you can go granular and target audiences by city or metropolitan area.

You can further refine your target audience with company details (e.g., industry or company size), demographics, education, job experience and interests.

One word of caution: Like other advertising platforms, LinkedIn advises against getting over-specific with ad targeting. If you’re new to LinkedIn ads, you might want to try casting a wider net initially and sticking to three targeting facets.

You can also A/B test campaigns with different targeting criteria, such as skills versus job titles, to learn which audiences connect better with your brand.

Craft your ad copy around a clear call to action

LinkedIn ads should have a concise headline, descriptive copy, and end with a clear CTA, often in the form of a text button.

Your readers are busy. They need someone to spell out exactly what they should do next. Otherwise, they might miss out on signing up for that career-boosting webinar or purchasing a new product that could simplify their life. Just make sure that your CTA matches the objective you initially selected.

Some effective CTAs include “Register Now” or “Sign Up Today!”

Read Hootsuite’s blog to learn more tips about creating captivating CTAs.

Choose the right content

LinkedIn can boost your content so it finds the right audience, but that won’t keep people glued to the screen. If you really want to connect, your ad needs to stand out.

Try the techniques below to keep audiences hanging onto every word you say.

Sponsored Content:

  • Repurpose content from your blog, website and social media channels.
  • Include 4-5 ads in each campaign
  • Use video, audio or other rich media elements.
  • Develop an emotional connection by sharing human interest stories.
  • Do more than just share trending news. Add your insights into the mix to show off your brand’s thought leadership.

Sponsored Messaging:

  • If encouraging brand consideration, share blog posts, webinars, or industry trends and analysis.
  • When developing leads and trying to convert customers, promote product demos, tutorials and success stories or advertise an upcoming webinar or event.

Text Ads:

  • Despite the name of these ads, don’t skip the visuals. Images may be optional but they land better results.
  • Instead of including an object or logo, opt for a profile image when possible.

Video Ads:

Carousel Ads:

  • Use 3-5 cards to start, and test adding more cards later.
  • Create a carousel of content that speaks to a similar theme or break down a large piece of content into carousel cards.
  • Use visual storytelling to pique your audience’s interest.
  • Each carousel card description should include a CTA and clear, direct messaging.

Dynamic Ads:

  • Be as descriptive as possible in the main ad headline and text.
  • Test image layouts in advance of posting.
  • Include one clear message and CTA in each ad.

Promote organic posts as sponsored content

When time is of the essence, hop on Hootsuite to promote organic posts as sponsored content. You can target audiences based on location, interests, or professional information.

After you’ve published your ads, make sure you analyze their performance. Watch the video below to learn more about LinkedIn analytics:

Frequently asked questions about LinkedIn ads

How much does it cost to put an ad on LinkedIn?

The cost to put an ad on LinkedIn varies. LinkedIn uses an online auction system that allows you to place competitive bids for your ads to win placement.

Are ads worth it on LinkedIn?

Running ads on LinkedIn is worth it if you want to reach an engaged audience of business professionals. LinkedIn ads are a smart way to promote a job listing, company page, online event like a webinar, or a lead generation document like a whitepaper.

What are the ad options for LinkedIn?

The different ad options for LinkedIn include the following formats:

  • Single image ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Conversation ads
  • Document ads
  • Video ads
  • Event ads
  • Follower ads
  • Lead gen forms
  • Spotlight ads
  • Single job ads

What is the minimum spend on LinkedIn ads?

LinkedIn recommends $25 for the minimum spend for new advertisers and anywhere from $50-$100 for existing advertisers.

Easily manage your LinkedIn Page alongside your other social channels using Hootsuite. From a single platform you can schedule and share content—including video—engage your network, and boost top-performing content.

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Easily plan, manage and analyze organic and paid campaigns from one place with Hootsuite Social Advertising. See it in action.





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