Published on
Zach Jackson

As the most expansive professional network in the world, it should come as no surprise that LinkedIn has great marketing potential for companies looking to elevate their paid social strategies.

However, as is the case with all marketing channels, knowing how LinkedIn’s advertising services work is key. A clear understanding of the tools available to you means you can invest in the ones that align with your specific marketing objectives.

LinkedIn offers a variety of ad formats, and in today’s article, we’ll be putting each one under the microscope, explaining what they are and whether they’re right for your campaign.

The benefits of LinkedIn as an advertising platform

Social media marketing can be challenging — honing in on the right audience on a platform that welcomes all manner of users is always going to be a test. Yet, LinkedIn, with its unique position in the social media market, presents a much smaller hill to climb.

When you reach out on LinkedIn, you’re not shouting into the digital void; you’re speaking to specific segments of a 700 million-strong user base of professionals spanning a myriad of industries.

And considering 4 out of every 5 LinkedIn members really are linked in, commanding influence at the highest levels of business, you’re reaching people who have the clout to steer their outfits towards your services.

Reports suggest that these heavy hitters have twice the buying power of the average Facebook user, which, combined with their aforementioned influence, makes them 6 times more likely to convert.

But these gains don’t come automatically — choosing the right ad formats is critical to the success of your LinkedIn marketing efforts.

Let’s look at your options.

Carousel ads

LinkedIn carousel ads leverage a swipeable series of cards that can tell a story, share insights, or promote products and/or services.

Your immediate objective when utilising the carousel format is to use eye-catching and communicative visuals to encourage users to continuously swipe for deeper engagement.

Carousel animated GIF
Source: LinkedIn

Carousel ad strengths

  • Brand awareness: The flowing, circular nature of LinkedIn carousel ads makes them the perfect medium for spreading brand awareness with a brief yet informative narrative — think of the cards as the pages of a flip book that tells the story of your brand.
  • Lead generation: This format can deliver a great deal of information quickly, but it’s also pleasing to the eye — perfect for cultivating interest and generating leads.
  • Product/service exposure: You can use the cards of a carousel ad to focus on a singular service or product, giving the audience lots of specific information to generate interest and increase sales.

Carousel ad spec

  • Carousel ads offer a maximum of 10 cards to captivate your audience — or a minimum of 2 cards if you feel you can be more succinct with your message.
  • The file size of your carousel ad is capped at 10 MB, the ad name can be up to 255 characters in length, and the headline text of each card must be no longer than 2 lines.
  • For ads with a destination URL, the limit is 45 characters, and for those with a form, the limit is 30 characters.

Conversation ads

As the name suggests, these ads take the form of a conversation with a specified sender and are delivered via LinkedIn Messaging.

Conversation ads deliver key information in the bulk of the message, reinforce the textual content with an eye-catching image, and then hand control over to the reader with multiple engagement options.

For instance, you might insert one button that invites the reader to subscribe to your newsletter, and another that guides them to a product or events page on your site. But you could just as well link to a blog post accompanied by a product demo or tutorial to convert prospects into customers — the sky's the limit!

Linked in message displayed on a phone
Source: LinkedIn

As an incredibly flexible format, a lot goes into optimising a conversation ad for the intended audience. Everything, from the chosen sender to the quality of the thumbnail, matters and should be developed in reference to meticulous market research and audience personas.

Conversation ad strengths

  • Brand awareness: With multimedia content, a more personal approach and multiple options for user interaction, you can communicate a great deal about your brand with a conversation ad.
  • Website conversions: A highly engaging and welcoming format with a choose-your-own-adventure feel — conversation ads boast high conversion rates.
  • Lead generation: Synergise informational and commercial buttons to build interest in your products or services.

Conversation ad spec

  • Your conversation ad name can include up to 255 characters, but the introductory and primary messages can contain up to 8000 characters a piece.
  • You also get the option to add a custom footer or terms amd conditions section, capped at 20,000 characters.
  • Conversation ads permit between 1 and 5 buttons, and, as you’d expect, CTA text is capped at 25 characters.
  • Ads served on desktops give the creator the option to include a banner image with a maximum mid-page unit (MPU) between 300 x 250px for JPEG or PNG file types.
  • The image displayed within the message is available for both desktop and mobile ads, but it must not exceed 250 x 250 px, and, again, must be a JPEG or PNG file.

Message ads

A message ad is a stripped-back version of a conversation ad that allows only one CTA, meaning you lose a little bit of engagement potential, but there are often benefits to keeping your LinkedIn ads simple.

Linkedin message ads
Source: LinkedIn

Message ad strengths

  • Website traffic: Message ads may not be as fleshed out as their conversational counterparts, but they also appear more natural, like a normal private message. This can encourage the recipient to follow the CTA and visit your website.
  • Website conversions: Unsurprisingly, with all that extra traffic message ads can bring in, they also have some amazing website conversion potential.
  • Lead generation: With a user-optimised site and impactful conversions, message ads can be the start of an effective lead generation strategy.

Message ad spec

  • The subject of your message ad can contain up to 60 characters, but the message text can contain as many as 1,500.
  • Like conversation ads, message ads can include a custom terms and conditions segment, this time up to 2,500 characters in length.
  • Your CTA button copy is capped at 20 characters.
  • 300 x 250px JPEG, PNG, or GIF (static) banners are optional.

Follower ads

Follower ads do exactly what they say on the tin — promote your LinkedIn page to generate followers. Once the reader clicks through, it’s up to your profile and the way you manage your feed to encourage further engagement.

This format belongs to the dynamic ads category, meaning they’re personalised to each member of your target audience based on the information on their individual LinkedIn profiles.

Linkedin Follower Ads
Source: LinkedIn

Follower ad strengths

  • Brand awareness: The sole purpose of a follower ad is to put your business on your target audience’s radar by encouraging them to follow your page. It’s an exceedingly low commitment request, and as the power of LinkedIn is in making connections, there’s every chance that a reader will click through and join your digital community.
  • Traffic & engagement: With their interest piqued, it’s almost inevitable that users will then spend some time on your LinkedIn page and website learning more about your business and services.

Follower ad spec

  • You get 70 characters to compose your ad description. Ad headlines are chosen from a range of pre-sets or custom-composed using up to 50 characters.
  • You get 25 characters to display the name of your business.
  • An ad image is recommended — 100 x 100px JPEG or PNG files are preferable.

Spotlight ads

Spotlight ads are similar to follow ads in appearance and angle, but rather than encouraging readers to follow your LinkedIn page, they shine a light on your business or services by directing users straight to a site home, landing or product page.

Another dynamic ad format, spotlight ads feature the same per-reader personalisation as follower ads, capturing attention and encourage conversions.

LinkedIn Spotlight Ads
Source: LinkedIn

Spotlight ad strengths

  • Brand awareness: While spotlight ads don’t deliver all that much information themselves, they’re high converters that get eyes on your website, boosting brand awareness.
  • Engagement: With a well-crafted destination awaiting readers of spotlight ads, there’s a good chance they’ll remain engaged for an extended period as they learn more about your business.
  • Lead generation: Putting your services front and centre of your audience’s attention, spotlight ads tell them precisely what problem your business can solve, potentially generating a lot of fresh prospects.

Spotlight ad spec

  • Spotlight ad descriptions can be up to 70 characters in length, ad headlines are capped at 50 characters, and your company name mustn’t exceed 25 characters.
  • Spotlight ads include a JPG or PNG image — the optimal size is 100 x 100px. You can also choose to insert a custom background image as long as it’s precisely 300 x 250px and does not exceed 2MB in size.
  • Capped at 18 characters, spotlight ad CTAs need to be slightly snappier than those of other ad formats.

Work with us ads

LinkedIn ‘work with us’ ads (or job ads) are similar to spotlight ads, but with this format, you’re telling your audience that you’re hiring. Work with us ads promise roughly twice the click-through rate of any other format for the following reasons:

  • 90% of LinkedIn users are already curious about work opportunities, and your job ad plays directly into this curiosity.
  • Work with us ads are distributed across the profiles of your employee network, and as profile viewing is the most common action on LinkedIn, lots of people see them and click through to find out if they’re a good fit for the advertised roles.
  • There’s only so much profile space to go around, so when much of it is occupied by your job ad, it blocks ads from competitors gaining exposure via your employee network, ensuring you and only you get the clicks.
Work With Us Ads

Source: LinkedIn

Upon delivery, ‘work with us’ ads are presented as one of three sub-formats — depending on the suitability of the recipient for your job vacancies.

If the reader’s profile indicates that they’re qualified for three or more vacancies in your organisation, they’ll see all three job titles in the ad. If they’re suitable for two current vacancies, they’ll see the one they’ll likely have the most interest in. And should they not match up with any current positions, they’ll simply be directed to your company job page.

Work with us ad strengths

  • Hiring: If you’re trying to fill a job vacancy, there’s no substitute for a work with us ad.
  • Organic traffic: Anyone serious about applying for your role will head over to your website to see what you’re all about.

Work with us ad spec

  • Your company name and ad headline must be no more than 25 characters and 70 characters respectively, but your CTA can include up to 44 characters.
  • For best results, your company logo should be 100 x 100px.

Single job ads

Single job ads are identical in objective to ‘work with us’ ads but are delivered to your audience directly through their news feed and only promote a single vacancy. On average, they generate a 25% increase in click to apply rate.

LinkedIn Single Ads
Source: LinkedIn

If advertising for candidates with the ‘work with us’ format is letting you down, this is the ad for you. Reaching beyond your LinkedIn network, single job ads utilise advanced targeting to pinpoint suitable individuals with whom you’re yet to make a connection.

Single job ad strengths

  • Hiring: Single job ads are highly effective recruitment tools that expand your candidate pool dramatically.
  • Site traffic: This format isn’t quite as prolific in the organic traffic department as the ‘work with us’ format, but many recipients will still explore your site to learn more before applying.

Single job ad spec

  • The name of a single job ad is capped at 255 characters.
  • Your introductory text is best kept to 150 characters to avoid truncation, but if the ad is to target desktop users alone, you have a maximum of 600 characters to work with.

Single image ads

Single image ads are a simple form of sponsored ads that appear in the feed of professionals you’re hoping to reach. As the name suggests, they carry a single image that provides context for a short headline.

Single Image Ads
Source: LinkedIn

They look like a normal post, which can be quite disarming, but LinkedIn is required to mark them as “sponsored” content for transparency’s sake. Even so, LinkedIn users will be interested to know what ties your ad to them and will likely investigate further by clicking through.

Single image ad strengths

  • Brand awareness: Since single image ads are placed in news feeds, your audience tends to take notice — a small amount of copy and a relevant, high-quality image can speak volumes about your brand.
  • Site traffic: Choosing your site as the destination link on your single image ad can lead to a spike in traffic.
  • Website conversions: A well targeted single image ad has the potential to bring in high value leads and drive website conversions.
  • Hiring: You can also use a single image ad to direct your audience to your jobs page.

Single image ad spec

  • A single ad headline can be 200 characters in length, but it’s best to limit yourself to 70 to avoid truncation. Similarly, the ad description is capped at 300 characters, but 100 is recommended.
  • You get 150 characters for your introductory text, and your ad name can be up to 225 characters long.
  • Your destination URL must be no longer than 2,000 characters.
  • The JPG, PNG, or static GIF image must have a file size no larger than 5MB, and the image size should be 7680 x 7680.

Text ads

Comprising a short headline, a small amount of descriptive text and a thumbnail, text ads are simple and to the point. They’re not the most eye-catching format, but they’re affordable, easy to set up, and surprisingly effective generators of B2B leads.

Text Ads
Source: LinkedIn

They’re displayed on the right-hand side of the LinkedIn feed and require a strong, eye-grabbing headline to draw the attention of target users. Unlike a lot of the other LinkedIn ad formats, the simplicity of the text ad affords greater flexibility regarding ad size and ratio.

Text ad strengths

  • Brand awareness: Never underestimate how much a small passage of copy can relay about your brand.
  • Site traffic: A well-executed text ad always leaves your audience wanting more, encouraging them to click through to your site.
  • Site conversions: Text ads can be used to target specific user circumstances, increasing the chance of website conversions once they follow the link.

Text ad spec

  • Text ad headlines are capped at 25 characters, while descriptions are capped at 75 characters.
  • The image of a text can be a JPG or PNG of 2MB or fewer and should be 100 x 100px in size.

Video ads

The video ad format rewards creativity; think of them as the next step up from carousel ads. While carousel ads allow you to tell a story as long as your user is willing to cycle through the slides, video ads show your audience your story.

Video Ads
Source: LinkedIn

Appearing in user news feeds, video ads are incredibly eye-catching and engaging. They can focus on just about anything, from single products to company-wide culture. If you want maximum impact, this is the ad format for you.

Video ad strengths

  • Brand awareness: Video ads reach a wider, more targeted audience that is likely to pay attention to your message and brand.
  • Lead generation: The highly targeted nature of LinkedIn video ads generally has a positive impact on lead generation.
  • Product/service awareness: Choose to make your product or service the star of the show, and you can rapidly spread awareness and spark interest among your audience.

Video ad spec

  • Video ad names can be 225 characters long, and introductory copy can be 600 characters long.
  • Video ads have a minimum runtime of 3 seconds and a maximum runtime of 30 minutes.
  • File size must fall between 75KB and 200MB.
  • The frame rate of your video must be lower than 30 FPS.
  • Video width can be anywhere between 640 and 1920 pixels, video height can be anywhere between 360 and 1920 pixels, and aspect ratio should fall between 1.778 and 0.5652.

Event ads

Event ads advertise an upcoming business event that you want to draw attention to in order to boost either in-person or virtual attendance. They feature a short, descriptive headline; an eye-catching image; the event date and time; and a CTA button that leads people to the event page.

Source: LinkedIn

Event ad strengths

  • Event awareness: With this ad format, you can ensure interested professionals know about an event, which, in turn, should boost word-of-mouth potential and social shares.
  • Brand awareness: Events position your business as community-forward experts in your niche. The ad itself can tell your audience a lot about what you do, and if they decide to attend, you have the entire event to provide more information.

Event ad spec

  • Event names are capped at 255 characters, but your introductory text can be up to 600 characters.
  • URLs are capped at 2000 characters.
  • Event ads pull whatever image is on your event page. It will occupy ⅘ of the ad space.

Thought leader ads

Thought leader ads are essentially sponsored posts featuring content created by your top people. These ads show up in the feed of your audience and promote your business as a mover and shaker of your field.

Thought Leader
Source: LinkedIn

Thought leader ad strengths

  • Brand awareness: Thought leader ads are fantastic for spreading awareness, not just of your brand, but of your position in the industry, proving your pedigree with expert content.
  • Lead generation: As this ad format has a prestigious element, more professionals take notice and consider your services/products.
  • Website visits: Thought leader ads are incredibly engaging to those operating within your industry or for those who value the solutions you provide, meaning they generate lots of website visits. Some will be checking out the competition, while others will want to know more about your offerings.
  • Website Conversions: Now that you’re established as ‘thought leaders’, interested parties will want to stay in the loop by joining your mailing list.
  • Page follows: LinkedIn itself is a great platform for businesses to share their expertise, so audience members who aren’t quite convinced to sign up for your newsletter may well follow your business profile to stay informed.

Thought leader ad spec

  • Thought leader ads are fairly self-contained, meaning the post is the post — and that’s that. You cannot add headlines or introductory text as separate entities.
  • You can add a JPG, PNG, or GIF (static) image. It can take landscape, square, or vertical orientations but must not exceed 5MB in file size.
  • Video is also a possibility if it’s set to one of the following aspect ratios:
    • 16:9 (landscape)
    • 1:1 (square)
    • 4:5 (vertical)
    • 9:16 (vertical variation)

Document ads

Document ads appear in the news feed of your audience, encouraging them to download a document of your choosing. This format is an excellent way to deliver significantly more information than an ad can accommodate alone, and, conveniently, the user never has to leave LinkedIn to access it.

Document Ads
Source: LinkedIn

​​​​​​​Document ad strengths

  • Lead generation: Consider your document a second level of the ad. The right document can turn passing curiosity into noted interest. You can even attach a lead generation form as a sign-up gate to reach the document.
  • Brand awareness: An entire document can say a lot more about your brand and services than most other ads.

Document ad spec

  • The name of a document ad can be up to 255 characters, the introductory text can be up to 150 characters, and the headline can be up to 70 characters.
  • Your document should be a PDF, DOC, DOCX, PPT, or PPTX file and should be no larger than 100MB. Any standard PDF layout is permitted.
  • Your document should be no longer than 10 pages.

Final thoughts

With so many options for marketing on LinkedIn, it can feel a little overwhelming, but LinkedIn does a great job of directing you towards suitable solutions by asking simple questions about your business goals.

Equipped with our guide, you should have no trouble narrowing down your options and settling on the perfect LinkedIn ad format for your brand!

Contact us today if you’d like assistance developing your business objectives and implementing an effective LinkedIn or broader social media marketing campaign.