LinkedIn Advertising has always been a tough cookie to crack. Its entire business model is basically a tight-knit community of individuals and companies, attempting to network online rather than during a conference.

It’s been the go-to social media platform for professionals for a while now, and with its acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn’s features have been slowly catching up to match what you see on other popular social media platforms.

And while LinkedIn hasn’t yet managed to shake its reputation for sometimes delivering poor results and disappointing returns, when you get it right it can be an incredibly powerful advertising platform.

Covering Off the Funnel with LinkedIn

Let’s start with our campaign objectives. LinkedIn nicely separates all stages of the marketing funnel within its campaign objectives. This is perfect as we can utilise this platform at all stages of our funnel, from brand awareness, through consideration, down to conversion.

For Awareness, you only have one campaign objective, aptly named ‘Brand Awareness’. This strategy aims to show our ads to users who are most likely to view them.

For Consideration, you have three campaign objectives: Website Visits, Engagement and Video Views. These strategies differ slightly but all focus on nurturing the relationship with the user as they move through the funnel.

For Conversions, you have Lead Generation, Website Conversions and Job Applicants. These focus on the end goal of converting, be that on LinkedIn or on your website.

Your Guide to LinkedIn Ad Formats

Within these campaign objectives come the ad formats. The ad formats available to you vary from objective to objective (the video views objective only lets you run video ads). However, most objectives allow for a good range of ad formats.

Some ad formats are better suited to different stages of the funnel, as they help you achieve different KPIs. Choosing the right combination of objective and ad format will result in the best performance. Let’s go through them, including images where most appropriate:

Single Image Ads

This is your standard, in-feed ad. Users will see this ad when scrolling their feed on LinkedIn, and one image will be displayed with a headline, description and a final URL if they decide to click.

Single image ads look the most natural out of all of them, as they blend in with what is organically shared on LinkedIn. You can measure interaction with these ads, such as impressions, clicks and CTR.

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Carousel Ads

Carousel ads are similar to single image ads but feature multiple images and messages. These also look relatively natural as users can upload these organically too.

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Video Ads

As above, but a video is used. Additionally, you can measure what percentage of users watched 25%, 50%, 75% and all of the video.

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Text Ads

These ads are smaller, have a smaller character limit and don’t blend in as well as in-feed ads. These appear either at the top of the page or on the right-hand side when a user is scrolling their feed.

With the reduction in space they take up, they are generally cheaper to run but are less striking. You can measure interaction on these, but users themselves cannot comment or react as they’re not actual posts, a significant downside of this format.

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Spotlight Ads

This is an interesting format, pairing the user’s profile picture with your business logo or image. These ads are perfect for selling personalised products or gathering job applications. These appear on the right-hand side like text ads, but images are allowed.

Spotlight ads are dynamic, so they can pick up any personal element, such as your job title or company, and insert that into the ad.

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Follower Ads

As above, these are dynamic ads, which pull in profile information to help convince users to follow your page. A follow button is automatically added as a call-to-action to these ads.

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Message and Conversation Ads

These two formats are very similar, so I’ve included them together. These send messages (InMails) to a user’s personal inbox on LinkedIn. These can contain company banners, have the user’s name dynamically insertable, and can have call-to-actions embedded within them.

Conversation ads go one step further and give users options to reply to your original message, You could provide more information, have a button for different services you offer, or gamify it with some fun choices. This is all measurable and can help generate leads as well as provide some great information as to what your audience is looking for.

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Single Job Ads

Much like spotlight ads, single job ads pull in user information to inform those users that your company is hiring for a relevant role. These appear on the right-hand side of the feed and can be measured similarly to spotlight ads.

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Job Ads

These also appear on the right-hand side but show a variety of roles that are relevant to the user. These are less personal, but provide the user with more choice, so potentially a greater chance of them finding their dream role with you.

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Final Thoughts

You can see that LinkedIn has really put a lot of effort into differentiating themselves from the other social media platforms out there. With one of the most engaged audiences, it can be an invaluable tool to drive genuine, high quality leads, staff or sales to your business.

Microsoft has already shown what they’re planning on evolving LinkedIn into, recently announcing the new Bing Geo, allowing us to target much more specific geo-locations, alongside some exciting Bing SEM integrations like audience overlays.

There’s never been a better time to give LinkedIn a try. But make sure you’re giving the time and effort it needs to succeed. Treat LinkedIn like a secondary platform, and you’ll receive the poor results you’ve come to expect.