The Complete Guide to Choosing the Right LinkedIn Ad Format

linkedin marketing Dec 29, 2020

Okay, so you have decided to give LinkedIn ads a shot because you have heard so much about its 706 million quality members and the impact it can potentially bring to B2B companies. But then tons of questions start popping up. 

 

What ad formats does LinkedIn have? Which ad formats will give you the best results for your objectives? How does each ad format charge you on LinkedIn?

 

To help make your life easier, below is the complete guide to break down all the ad formats LinkedIn has and what objectives you should use them for. 

 

We will be covering: 

  • Single image ad – Sponsored Content
  • Carousel ad
  • Video ad
  • Messaging ad
  • Text ad
  • Dynamic ad
  • Lead gen form

Format 1: Single Image Ad - Sponsored Content

  • Best for: Engagements, web visit, lead generation, web conversion
  • Available bid type: CPM or CPC (Recommend to use CPC bid)
  • Where it appears: On your feed

LinkedIn Sponsored Content is by far the most widely used and most popular ad format on LinkedIn. It is extremely simple to set up. All you need is an image banner, ad copies above and below the banner then you are set to go. 

 

This ad format integrates seamlessly within the feed of your target audience as it looks exactly just like the organic content they normally see. The only way you can tell it apart is from the little “Promoted” word right below the company name. 

 

Also it is extremely versatile so it can help you achieve different business objectives from driving engagements, getting people to your blogs/website, getting webinar registrations or e-book download. 

 

If you are looking to do lead generation, you can even incorporate Sponsored Content with LinkedIn lead gen form which automatically fills out the form with data LinkedIn gets from the user’s profile. We will talk more about the lead gen form at a later stage of this blog. 

 

Below are some interesting Sponsored Content examples to show you what’s possible.

 

Sponsored Content Ad Specs:

  • Introductory text: Use up to 150 characters to avoid truncation (desktop max of 600 characters). 
  • Destination URL: URLs must have the “http://” “or https://” prefix. You may use up to 2,000 characters for the destination link.
  • Ad image: 1200 x 627 pixel (JPG or PNG file and max 5MB)
  • Ad headline: Use up to 70 characters to avoid truncation (200 max characters).

Format 2: Carousel Ad

  • Best for: Awareness, engagements, web visit, lead generation, web conversion
  • Available bid type: CPM or CPC (Recommend to use CPC bid)
  • Where it appears: On your feed

LinkedIn Carousel Ad  is a very visually attractive ad format that LinkedIn offers. With the options of having multiple images, it allows you to become more creative on how you can combine multiple carousel cards  to tell a good story or create a compelling ad about your company. 

 

This ad format basically does it all. From awareness, engagement, web conversion to lead generation. You name it and it can be tailored to whatever objective you throw at it. I have seen different brands and companies using it to promote the latest collection of products, showcasing multiple speakers for an event registration to breaking down key data from e-book into 5 images to attract download. 

 

For this ad format, we usually suggest to use up to 4-5 images only as anything after that, no one is really going to click and see it. And your first visual is everything. It decides either your ad is captivating enough for the audience to click on and ignore it. 

 

Pretty much similar to Sponsored Content, you can incorporate LinkedIn lead gen form with the Carousel Ad as well and below are some creative examples for your reference. 

Carousel Ad Specs:

    • Introductory text: Use up to 150 characters to avoid truncation on some devices (255 max characters)
    • Cards: Minimum two cards and a maximum of ten cards
    • Card requirements: 1080 x 1080 pixel (JPG or PNG and max 10MB)
    • Destination URL: URLs must have the “http://” “or https://” prefix. You may use up to 2,000 characters for the destination link. (Can use different URL for different card)
    • Ad Headline: 
        • 45-character limit for carousel ad that direct to a destination URL
        • 30-character limit for carousel ad with a Lead Gen Form CTA
  •  

Format 3: Video Ad

  • Best for: Awareness, engagements
  • Available bid type: CPV or CPC (For awareness/views, suggest using CPV. For engagement or other objective, suggest using CPC)
  • Where it appears: On your feed

Video is becoming more and more popular on social media with 92% marketers stating video is an important part of their strategy in 2020. And with the launch of LinkedIn Video Ad in 2019, it gives companies a great way to increase their brand awareness as well as driving social engagements.

 

However, when it comes to using Video Ad to drive for web visits, web conversion and lead generation, it might not be the best option. CTR of Video Ad is usually lower than Sponsored Content and Carousel Ad but instead, it is great at driving engagements to get likes, comments and share from your target audience. 

 

For this format, you can be charged for clicks or views. The official view definition is 2 or more continuous seconds of playback while the video is at least 50% on screen, or a click on the CTA, whichever comes first. We have seen companies using Video Ad to showcase customer testimonials, new products offering and even getting key executives to share their insights about the market. Some interesting examples can be found below.

Video Ad Specs:

  • Introductory text: Use up to 150 characters to avoid truncation on some devices (600 max characters)
  • Ad Headline: Use up to 70 characters to avoid truncation on most devices (200 max characters).
  • Destination URL: URLs must have the “http://” “or https://” prefix. You may use up to 2,000 characters for the destination link.
  • Video:
      • Length: 3 seconds to 30 mins (Tip: most successful video ad are less than 15 seconds long)
      • File format: MP4
      • File size: 75KB and 200MB
      • Pixel and aspect ratio: 
        • Landscape 16:9 (1920 x 1080 px)
        • Square 1:1 (1920 x 1920 px)
        • Vertical 9:16 (1080 x 1920 px)

Note: Vertical aspect ratio videos will only be served to mobile devices

Format 4: Message Ad - Sponsored InMail

  • Best for: Web conversion, lead generation
  • Available bid type: CPS 
  • Where it appears: In your LinkedIn messaging inbox

LinkedIn Message Ad or more well known as Sponsored InMail is a very direct and a customised approach for you to reach your target audience. It allows you to input variables to dynamically generate the recipient’s first name and job title in the main content. This gives the whole message a more personal touch and the whole experience more tailored to your audience.

 

Also Message Ad is only sent to active LinkedIn members who are actually opening the app or browsing through the LinkedIn website. This helps you achieve a better open rate and CTR instead of sitting in the inbox of a passive LinkedIn account user. 

 

However, it has its flaws too. It has got a 45 days frequency cap meaning a member can only receive one Message Ad from any company within 45 days. If your audience receives one from your competitors today, they won’t be able to receive another one from any company until 45 days later. 

 

This frequency cap usually causes an issue for companies to not able to utilise the full assigned budget. Another area to watch is that it is designed in a way for members to click the CTA button to become a lead or go to your website. Hence it does not allow the recipient to reply at all.  

 

This ad format is more commonly used when you have a very targeted audience you want to reach and the content needs to be more customised and informative. I usually see companies using Message Ad for webinars, conferences and MBA info session registration as you can see below.

 

Message Ad Specs:

  • Sender: Select from personal or company sender (If need to add personal sender, please check out this link for the steps)
  • Message Subject: Use up to 60 characters, including spaces and punctuation
  • Message text: As a best practice, use up to 1,500 characters, including spaces and punctuation and up to 3 hyperlinks
  • Custom Terms & Conditions(Optional): Use up to 2,500 characters, including spaces and punctuation
  • Call-to-action (CTA) button copy: Use up to 20 characters, including spaces
  • Destination URL: URLs must have the “http://” or “https://” prefix.
  • Banner creative(Desktop only): 300 x 250 (JPG or PNG and max 40KB)

Format 5: Text Ad

  • Best for: Web visit, web conversion
  • Available bid type: CPM or CPC
  • Where it appears: Top and side of the website

LinkedIn Text Ad is basically the simplest ad format on the platform. All you need is a few sentences and a small square logo to get it up and running. 

 

To be very honest, it is not the most visually attractive format and where it appears are not usually areas people would have their eyeballs on too. Hence its CTR is extremely low at 0.03% compared to other formats like Sponsored Content. 

 

However, because it is an ad format that less companies would leverage, the competition is not as high and that makes its CPC really low. From my own experience, CPC from Text Ad can be 50-70% lower than Sponsored Content. 

 

And this low CPC can make Text Ad become a dark horse sometimes. Because it is not visually attractive, so each member who clicks the ad must be really interested in the content. And with the low CPC, it can potentially bring you very low cost per web visit or even conversion. But don’t expect it can bring you tons of visits and conversions as its CTR is too low to help you achieve the volume game. 

 

Text Ad Specs:

  • Ad image: 100 x 100 pixels (JPG or PNG and max 2MB)
  • Ad headline: Use up to 25 characters, including spaces
  • Ad description: Use up to 75 characters, including spaces
  • Destination URL: URLs must have the “http://” or “https://” prefix. You may use up to 500 characters for the destination

Format 6: Dynamic Ad

  • Best for: Followers, promoting job position
  • Available bid type: CPM or CPC
  • Where it appears: Side of the website

LinkedIn Dynamic Ad or also known as Spotlight Ad or Follower Ad is kind of similar to Text Ad which it only appears on the side of the website. It would dynamically pull your profile photo and place it into the ad to grab your attention. 

 

This ad format is mostly being used for promoting job positions or getting followers for a LinkedIn company page. Out of all ad formats, Dynamic Ad is able to bring the lowest cost per follower because the only button available for clicking is the follow button. Whereas for Sponsored Content, there are lots of areas members can click and maybe one out of those ten chargeable click is to follow your company which makes the cost high.

Follower Ad Specs:

  • Ad description (above images): Use up to 70 characters, including spaces or can choose from one of the suggested options
    Ad headline (below images): Use up to 50 characters, including spaces or can choose from one of the suggested options 
  • Company name: Use up to 25 characters, including spaces. 
  • Ad image: 100 x 100px (JPG or PNG)

 

Spotlight Ad Specs:

  • Ad description (above images): Use up to 70 characters, including spaces or can choose from one of the suggested options
    Ad headline (below images): Use up to 50 characters, including spaces or can choose from one of the suggested options 
  • Company name: Use up to 25 characters, including spaces. Your organization’s name is displayed when a member moves their cursor over the company logo.
  • Ad image: 100 x 100px (JPG or PNG)
  • Call-to-action (CTA) button text: Use up to 18 characters, including spaces.
  • Destination URL: Supports third-party click tracking destination URLs
  • Custom background image (optional): (300 x 250px and max 2MB)

Format 7: LinkedIn Lead Gen Form

LinkedIn Lead Gen Form is not exactly an ad format on its own but more like an additional feature that you can add on top of other ad formats. The purpose of the LinkedIn Lead Gen Form is to help you generate high quality leads at scale with its pre-filled feature. 

 

You can link the Lead Gen Form with Sponsored Content, Carousel Ad, Video Ad or Message Ad so when a member clicks, a native lead form will pop up within the LinkedIn website and app. Majority of the details would already be prefilled based on the data from their profiles. 

 

This makes the whole lead gen process more seamless and less effort for the members. Hence, drive up the form completion rate and lower your cost per lead. From previous experiences, LinkedIn Lead Gen Form can drive a 30% higher form completion rate than a web form. 

 

In the form, you are free to select the information that you want to collect or even ask open ended custom questions to qualify the leads. But suggest to keep to around 6-7 fields as your form completion rate can drop when you ask for too much information. Below are some best practice examples that you can learn from.

Lead Gen Form Specs:

 

Lead Gen Form Details

    • Form name:  Cannot be left blank. Use up to 256 characters to name your Lead Gen Form
    • Lead Gen Form Language: Ensure it matches the language you’ve chosen for your campaign.
    • Offer headline: Cannot be blank. Use up to 60 characters.
    • Offer details: Max 160 characters and will truncate after about 70 characters.
    • The Privacy policy URL:  Cannot be blank and must start with http:// or https://. 
    • Custom privacy policy text(Optional): Explain how you’ll use the member’s data
    • Lead details and custom questions:
      • Select up to 12 fields
      • (Optional) Choose up to three Custom questions. Can be open ended or multiple choice questions
      • (Optional) Choose up to five custom checkboxes to get members’ specific consent for additional ways you intend to use their information

Time to choose the right LinkedIn ad format

So now with a clear idea of what ad formats LinkedIn can offer and what each of them can do, you can choose the right ad format to achieve the business objectives that you want. 

 

In my own opinion, Sponsored Content is the most efficient ad format that can bring you direct results straight away especially when you are using LinkedIn Lead Gen Form. And the best thing is that it does not require a lot of effort to prepare the material. But after all, there is no one size fits all formula and you would want to test out other formats  as well to see what is best for you. What works best for other companies or industries might not apply to your company entirely. 

 

To finish off, I want to say a big thank you for your time. The whole idea of this blog is to give you a clear picture of what options are available and how other companies have been leveraging different ad formats for different objectives. If there are any questions or concerns that are left unanswered, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will see how we can help. 

 

Or if you got a great idea on what we should be covering next, please share with us as your opinion is very valuable to help us continue to develop this website. 

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