Show Them What You’ve Got! Types Of LinkedIn Ads & How To Use Them


LinkedIn is the best social media platform for businesses to advertise online for B2B sales and marketing. As a ready-made business network with thousands of decision-makers using the platform every day, LinkedIn adverts can get your content in front of your target customers quickly and cheaply, even if you only have a modest LinkedIn presence or are not particularly active on the platform.

How To Use LinkedIn For Business - FREE Guide From JDR Group

There are several paid LinkedIn ad types to choose from.

All are good, but some work better in different contexts and for different purposes. In this article, we provide an overview of the six most popular types of LinkedIn advert, with pros, cons, and applications for each. Lets go:

1) Text ads

Text ads are a fast and effective lead generation tool, taking minutes to set up and capable of fine tuning to reach niche audiences in your sector. Text adverts appear in the right-hand column of the prospects dashboard, and your message can include up to 100 characters – 25 for the title and 75 for the content. Text ads are short, hard-hitting, and to-the-point.

Ad formats: Text with an optional 50x50px thumbnail image – choose from square, tall, horizontal, or long format

Applications: Text ads are the perfect online advertising solution for SMEs with a small budget and limited time to spend on online marketing – and always hit above their weight in terms of results.


  • Low cost per click (CPC)
  • Define your marketing objectives (whether the advert is intended to cultivate awareness, consideration, or conversions) and budget
  • Target the decision-makers you want to reach by location, company size, demographics, interests, job experience, role, seniority etc
  • Convey special offers and promotions through concise, punchy text messages (text ads can be used for any purpose)
  • Keep track of your spend by analysing and monitoring results to optimise your campaign


  • Low conversion rate – best for awareness and consideration
  • Low click through rate (CTR) – one case study we read about had a CTR of just 0.009%[1], although in our experience the average CTR is much higher than this.

2) Sponsored InMail

InMails are direct private messages, like emails, to individual LinkedIn subscribers youre not connected with. You cant send InMails at all with a free account – you can only message your connections – but with a premium account you get five monthly credits to send InMails to 2nd level connections. InMails are great because you get to bypass all the normal LinkedIn networking and advertising channels and land messages directly in someones inbox. But theres a catch: you can only send messages individually, not in bulk.

Sponsored InMail, however, is a paid messaging service accessed through LinkedIn Advertising, that lets you target a group of subscribers simultaneously with the same message. The nuts and bolts of creating a Sponsored InMail is the same as a standard InMail. Its unsolicited email marketing conducted through LinkedIn, without you having to know the prospects email address – as it goes through their LinkedIn profile.

Sponsored InMails are a powerful way of getting to the front of the queue with key decision-makers but should be approached with caution.

Ad formats: Text (up to 1000 characters for the body content), CTA button, and optional banner ad and Lead Gen Form

Applications: Send marketing InMails to multiple recipients, over and above your standard InMail credits, and monitor your results. Its a good way to make contact with high-value leads you may have failed to reach by other means, and for promoting gated downloadable content, such as your new e-book or webinar.


  • Up to 3 times as effective as regular email marketing[2].
  • Promote your business directly to a narrow audience at a time they are most likely to be checking messages (The best time to send an InMail is, according to LinkedIn, between 9 and 10 AM Monday to Fridays[3].)
  • High level of personalisation to encourage engagement and conversions.
  • People spend more time on social media apps these days, giving a good open rate of 35 to 50%[4].
  • Variable campaigns of 300 to 10,000 contacts.
  • Upload a CSV email list to contact prospects through their LinkedIn account.


  • All Sponsored InMails come with a ‘sponsored’ tag, which may deter some recipients.
  • Some people view unsolicited InMails as spam – for this reason LinkedIn has an ‘anti-fatigue’ limit of one Sponsored InMail per user every 45 days[5].
  • InMails are delivered in real-time but only made available when the user logs in, so aren’t great for contacting infrequent LinkedIn users.

3) Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content appears within a LinkedIn users feed, among their self-selected content, in a similar way to Facebook adverts. It is an effective but unobtrusive way of promoting your events, products, services, or initiatives, and users can engage with your advert in the same way they would with other content in their feed. Sponsored Content can be combined with Lead Gen Forms (see below) to build your contact database.

Sponsored Content appears on your own page as well as that of your target audience. This is an important point – see Direct Sponsored Content below.

Ad formats:

There are several ad formats available for sponsored content:

  • Single image – uses a single 200px+ image, accompanied by a short text message (70 characters title + 150 characters content)
  • Carousel image – uses a scrolling sidebar of 2 to 10 images
  • Video ad – posts a video to the user’s newsfeed that autoplays when he or she scrolls past it
  • Follower ad- used to promote your LinkedIn company page, customising the content using the user’s profile data. Intended to build your LinkedIn company follower base.
  • Spotlight ad – a type of Dynamic Ad (see below) that is personalised to each user and includes a link to an external landing page or website. Appears on desktop feeds only.

Applications: Build brand awareness, promote specific initiatives and events, draw attention to your business, generate leads through targeted CTAs.


  • Looks like a standard LinkedIn update – encourages engagement from people who may avoid other adverts
  • Promote your business and company page without a hard sell
  • Easily create and edit sponsored content in minutes
  • Appears in the user’s feed so difficult to ignore
  • Customisable to your marketing objectives
  • Targetable to a narrow audience


  • In busy feeds your content may become lost before the user has a chance to see it, so publication timing is crucial.

4) Direct Sponsored Content

Direct Sponsored Content is similar to Sponsored Content and from a recipients perspective appears indistinguishable. The difference is that the content appears directly in the target users feed but not on your LinkedIn page. This avoids cluttering your own feed with page updates and means your current followers wont necessarily see the content (unless, of course, they are also on your advertising list).

Ad formats: Same as for sponsored content, but single image adverts are the most popular.

Applications: Businesses use direct sponsored content to reach out to non-followers, and also to test different types of content or messaging strategies without these appearing in their feed.


  • Allows you to send very specific messages to tightly defined audiences
  • Build your LinkedIn follower base


  • The content is seen by an ‘external’ audience only

5) Lead Gen Forms

Lead Gen Forms are customisable contact forms that can be used with Sponsored Content and Sponsored InMail. They allow prospects to sign up for services or promotional email lists, or access gated content directly from your Sponsored Content or message ad. Each form can be customised with the data fields you need to collect useful leads, including name, email address, job title and so on. On clicking the signup link in your advert, users are taken to a pre-filled form with information drawn from their LinkedIn profile – saving them time and increasing your conversion rate. Leads can be accessed through LinkedIn Campaign Manager and downloaded or imported into your CRM.

6) Dynamic ads

Dynamic ads are small, individually personalised adverts based on the target users profile information. Your adverts appear on the right-hand side of the users browser page, and usually feature the users own profile picture next to an image – often your company logo – some brief CTA copy and a link to enable the user to find out more. The link may lead to a LinkedIn Lead Gen Form, a gated content download page, to your LinkedIn company page, or an external landing page or website.

Ad formats: Dynamic ads are available in Follower ad and Spotlight ad formats and can also be used by recruiters as Job ads to promote available roles.

Applications: Dynamic ads can be used to expand your LinkedIn following, increase sign-ups for incentive gated content, and boost traffic to your website.


  • Excellent engagement potential as the content is personalised to individual profiles
  • Detailed targeting by location, industry, education, experience level etc


  • Dynamic ads appear on desktop browsers only, so will not reach mobile users. For this reason, dynamic ads should be timed for when the target audience is likely to be at work, at their desk.

Managing your online advertising campaigns

LinkedIn adverts are fairly straightforward to set up, but managing a campaign takes time and you need to be consistent and targeted to get the best ROI. Agencies like JDR or here to make the process quicker and easier for you, by ensuring you have the resources available to maximise your returns from LinkedIn advertising. For a free introduction to making B2B sales on LinkedIn, please download a copy of our How To Use LinkedIn For Business Guide.

For any other enquiries, or if youd like to know how to create a LinkedIn ad campaign for your business, please call one of our inbound marketing specialists today on 01332343281.

How To Use LinkedIn For Business - FREE Guide From JDR Group

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[1] LinkedIn Text Ads Best Practice: Case Study (


[3] 9 Stats That Will Help You Write Better LinkedIn InMails