LinkedIn Ads: A Beginner’s Guide

LinkedIn Ads: A Beginner’s Guide

In this guide, we explore the various LinkedIn ad types before giving a step-by-step guide on how to run ads on LinkedIn.

For each ad format mentioned, we’ve also included links to resources detailing best practices and technical specs—like ad size limitations. 

Types of LinkedIn Ads 

There are four main types of ads used in LinkedIn marketing—Sponsored Content, Sponsored Messaging, Lead Gen Forms, and Text and Dynamic ads. 

Let’s take a closer look with some LinkedIn ad examples.

Sponsored Content refers to native ads that appear in the target audience’s LinkedIn feed. These ads resemble the feed’s other user-generated content, with the exception that all Sponsored Content is tagged with a “Promoted” label.

Sponsored Content encompasses many different LinkedIn ad formats, including single image ads, video ads, event ads, carousel ads, document ads, click-to-message ads, and thought-leader ads.

Sponsored Content ads can be combined with Lead Gen Forms to capture information from qualified leads. 

LinkedIn profile feed with promoted ads highlighted

Single Image Ads

Single image ads are simple, sponsored content adverts that appear in your target audience’s LinkedIn feed as native ads. They resemble normal LinkedIn posts but are flagged with the “Promoted” flair to distinguish them from non-sponsored content. 

These ads feature one eye-catching image and a short message. They typically have a call to action (CTA) and a link, prompting viewers to perform a desired action. Like visiting a website. 

Single image ads are suitable for a range of campaign objectives, including:

  • Brand awareness
  • Engagement
  • Lead generation
  • Website visits
  • Website conversions
  • Job applications
WeSchool LinkedIn Ad showing how L&D experts perceive AI Assistants

Further readingLinkedIn single image ads specs

Click-to-Message Ads

Click-to-message ads are a type of single image ad containing a “Send Message” CTA. When a viewer clicks the CTA button beneath the image, they’re redirected to a new LinkedIn Messaging conversation with the advertiser.

LinkedIn click-to-message-ad by Microsoft for Office 365

Click-to-message ads make it easy for your audience to get in touch with you. Enabling direct messaging through a single click removes friction from the process of initiating contact. This makes it more likely that the viewer will complete the action. 

Further readingLinkedIn click-to-message ads specs

LinkedIn carousel ads showcase multiple images as a pageable series of cards, each with its own individual captions (and links). 

The swipeable format allows advertisers to tell engaging stories that unfold as the viewer pages through the images. Carousel ads are also great for showcasing a variety of different services, product features, or offerings. 

Carousel ads on LinkedIn can be used for a range of campaign objectives, including:

  • Brand awareness
  • Engagement
  • Lead generation
  • Website visits
  • Website conversions
LinkedIn carousel ad for Dell technologies showing new xps laptops

Further readingLinkedIn carousel ads specs

Video Ads

Much like single image ads, video ads are a sponsored content format served in the LinkedIn feed as native content.

Video ads can be created from scratch in the Campaign Manager, or you can choose to sponsor existing videos from your LinkedIn page.

Video ads can be paired with the following campaign objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Website visits
  • Engagement 
  • Video views
  • Website conversions
  • Lead generation 
LinkedIn video ad for TikTok for Business MENA showing TikTok Ad Awards video

Further readingLinkedIn video ads specs

Document Ads

Document ads are a native ad format that uses documents such as ebooks, case studies, and whitepapers to build brand awareness, drive engagement, and generate leads. 

Document ads can be ungated, freely accessible content members can read in their newsfeeds. Or, they can be gated documents with a Lead Gen Form to collect information from interested readers. 

LinkedIn document ad for Operatix showing a free download of a SDR handbook

Image Source: Impactable

Further readingLinkedIn document ads specs

Event Ads

Event ads are native ads used to promote LinkedIn Events landing pages. These ads are served in the LinkedIn feed as sponsored content. 

Each event ad campaign is linked to a native landing page with a unique URL.

Event ads are a suitable format for the following campaign objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Website visits
  • Engagement
LinkedIn event ad for Flexis advertising Flexis Con 2020

Further readingLinkedIn event ads specs

Sponsored messaging refers to ads that take the form of direct messages delivered to the targeted member’s LinkedIn Messaging inbox. These ads are available in two formats—LinkedIn message ads and conversation ads.

LinkedIn Message Ads

LinkedIn message ads are email-style direct messages featuring a single CTA and link. 

LinkedIn message ad inviting LinkedIn member to join OIC

Conversation Ads

Conversation ads are similar to message ads, except they allow advertisers to add multiple CTAs for audience members to choose from. 

This lets advertisers include links to several different landing pages and include Lead Gen Forms to collect information from qualified leads.

LinkedIn conversation ads showing multiple CTAs in message trail

Lead Gen Forms

Lead Gen Forms aren’t an ad type so much as an add-on to help advertisers capture leads. LinkedIn’s Lead Gen Forms come with certain fields pre-filled from the member’s profile data.

Man sat on a chair with open laptop looking surprised with a 'join the waiting list' link
Yefepere lead gen form offering a 30 - 90 day free trial

Further readingLinkedIn Lead Gen Forms specs

Text and Dynamic Ads

Text Ads

Text ads are simple, text-based desktop ads displayed at the top or to the right of the LinkedIn feed. These ads can be either cost per click (CPC) or cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) formats.

LinkedIn text ads with 3 magnified including job search, prototyping, and customer relationship ads

Dynamic Ads

Dynamic ads are personalized adverts customized to individual audience members using their LinkedIn profile data. 

These ads occur throughout the desktop LinkedIn experience and may feature data such as the audience member’s name, profile photo, and employment information. 

Dynamic ad formats include LinkedIn follower ads, spotlight ads, and jobs ads. 

Two dynamic LinkedIn ads for Golden Phase and Flexis

Follower Ads

Follower ads are a type of dynamic desktop ad that encourages audience members to follow your Page or Showcase Page. Like other dynamic ads, Follower Ads are personalized to the viewer based on their profile data. 

Follower ads can be used with these campaign objectives:

  • Brand awareness
  • Engagement

Follower ads automatically feature a “Follow” button.

LinkedIn follower ad for SiteGround with a follow button

Further readingLinkedIn follower ads specs

Jobs Ads

LinkedIn jobs ads are dynamic ads served to relevant talent based on the skills and work experience listed on profile pages. As dynamic ads, jobs ads are also personalized to target audience members using their profile data, such as their name, skills, and profile image. 

Dynamic LinkedIn job ad showing three advertising and sales roles in Midland, MI

Further readingLinkedIn jobs ads specs

Spotlight Ads

Spotlight ads are a type of dynamic desktop ad personalized with the audience member’s profile data, such as their name, profile photo, job title, and company information. 

Clicking on a spotlight ad redirects the audience member to the linked landing page or website. 

Spotlight ads on LinkedIn can be used for various campaign objectives, including:

  • Brand awareness
  • Website visits
  • Job applicants
LinkedIn spotlight ad with a join now button for the Golden Phase community

Further reading: LinkedIn spotlight ads specs

How Much Do LinkedIn Ads Cost?

Minimum Bid:

  • Cost per click (CPC): $2.00
  • Cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM): $2.00

Minimum Daily Spend:

  • CPC: $10.00
  • CPM: $10.00

For new campaigns, LinkedIn recommends that new advertisers budget a minimum starting spend of $25 and existing advertisers budget $50-$100. 

How to Create LinkedIn Ads

1. Set Up a LinkedIn Campaign Manager Account

Start by creating a free LinkedIn Campaign Manager account. 

To do this, simply click “Get Started” on LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions page

Illustrative lady holding a smartphone with smartphone screens and get started button highlighted

Name your account and link it to an existing LinkedIn page. Or, set up a new LinkedIn page by clicking “Add new.” (Skip ahead if your LinkedIn Page is already set up.)

LinkedIn Campaign Manager set up with account name and LinkedIn Page text fields highlighted

Choose between “Company,” “Showcase page,” and “Educational Institution.”

For this example, we’ve selected “Company.”

Create a LinkedIn page with company option highlighted above an illustrative smartphone and laptop screen display

Complete the form provided. Don’t worry about things like the logo or tagline too much—you can update this later. 

Once you’ve filled out all the fields, check the box verifying you have the authority to create this LinkedIn page. Optionally, read the terms and conditions and click “Create Page.”

LinkedIn company page setup form with 'create page' button highlighted

You’ll be redirected to your brand-new page. 

Before launching a campaign, it’s a good idea to populate your company page with information. 

In the future, you’ll be able to navigate to the Campaign Manager by clicking the “Create” button and selecting “Create an Ad” from the menu. For now, let’s finish setting up your Campaign Manager account. 

LinkedIn company page with today's actions listed and create button highlighted

With your new page created, you can copy the page’s URL and paste it in the “Associate a LinkedIn Page” field. Or, start typing your page’s name and select it from the options presented.

Next, choose your billing currency (it’s set to USD by default). 

Then, click “Agree & create account.”

Campaign Manager account set up in LinkedIn with company page linked and 'agree and create account' button highlighted

If your account was successfully created, a pop-up will appear. 

Click “Let’s get started” to open the Campaign Manager. 

Let's get started button highlighted alongside illustrative collection of people celebrating

2. Create a New Campaign

Once in Campaign Manager, click “Create” and select “Campaign.” This will take you to the campaign creation page.

LinkedIn Ads campaign groups dashboard with 'Campaign' button highlighted

Start by naming your campaign and choosing between the “Quick” or “Advanced” campaign types. 

In this example, we’re going with “Quick.”

LinkedIn quick campaign name 'Newsletter Signup 2024'

3. Set an Objective for Your Campaign

Next, select your campaign’s objective. 

Select “Brand awareness” if your goal is to reach more people with your ad. Choose “Website visits” if your aim is to get more people to click through to your landing page. 

LinkedIn Ads setup with brand awareness and website visit options. Website visits selected

In “Advanced Mode,” you’ll have a wider range of objectives to choose from. 

For now, we’ll simply select “Website visits” because we want to drive newsletter signups.

LinkedIn Ads advanced option with awareness, consideration, and conversion headers. Website visits selected

4. Define Your Target Audience 

Next, choose how you want to define your audience. 

If you select “Profile based,” you’ll be able to target LinkedIn users by attributes like locations, industries, job functions, job titles, and seniority levels. 

If you select “LinkedIn template,” you’ll be able to choose an audience from a list of predefined audiences.

LinkedIn ads audience set up with profile based and linkedin template options. Profile based selected

If you chose “Profile based,” select the attributes that best describe your target audience. 

LinkedIn ads audience attributes with united states selected and forecasted results displayed

You’ll notice the forecasted results on the right (like audience size and total spend) update as you change the attributes. 

Forecasted results on LinkedIn ads campaign highlighted with accounting and advertising industries selected

If you chose “LinkedIn template,” click the search field and select an audience from the dropdown menu, or start typing to search by name. 

LinkedIn template 'corporate hr professionals' selected alongside forecasted results

Next, select the location(s) you wish to target. 

You can also change the language of the profiles targeted if you’re targeting a non-English-speaking country or region. 

LinkedIn ads template with California selected and English language highlighted alongside forecasted results

5. Choose Your Ad Format 

Next, scroll down and select an ad format to use. In Quick Mode, you can only choose between “Single image” and “Video.”

LinkedIn ad format options - single image and video - with check mark next to single image

Now, decide whether your ads should also be served on third-party publishers. Note that disabling the LinkedIn Audience Network option may reduce click rates and increase cost per click.

LinkedIn ad placement options with LinkedIn audience network checked

6. Set Your Campaign Budget and Schedule

In Quick Mode, setting your campaign budget is as simple as entering a daily or lifetime budget and defining the campaign’s run time.

Note that setting an end date is optional when “Daily budget” is selected. To be safe, it’s best to set an end date so you don’t spend more than intended if you forget to end the campaign. 

Daily budget for LinkedIn ads selected set at $100 with start and end dates and total spend highlighted

In Advanced Mode, you’ll have more control over your bidding strategy. 

Once you’ve set your campaign budget and schedule, click “Save and continue” if your ad creative is ready to go. Or, “Save and exit” if not.

Note that you won’t be able to update the ad format or objective once you save your campaign at this step.

Save options for LinkedIn ads campaign set up

7. Craft Your Ad Creative

Next, you’ll get the option to either select a creative asset from your content library or create a new ad. 

Click “Create new.”

create an ad for a linkedin campaign with artist at an easel illustration

Create your ad by completing the fields provided and adding your image(s). Preview your ad on the right and toggle between different display formats.

LinkedIn ads design on desktop feed alongside selected text and ad name

Scroll down to complete the rest of the form and add your image(s).

Choose from the images uploaded to your library or upload new images. Or, grab some from Shutterstock right in the image selection workflow—each account gets 10 free Shutterstock images. 

Create up to five ads simultaneously by adding multiple images to the same ad. 

Once you’ve chosen your ad images, open the image preview screen and finalize your selection. 

Click the blue “X” in the corner of any image you want to remove. Then click “Select” to add your chosen images to your media library.

Image library of people working at laptops for LinkedIn Ads with 4 selected

Make sure you’ve completed all the fields. Then, select which CTA you want your ad to display. In this case, we’ve chosen “Subscribe.”

To proceed, click “Save Ad.” 

Your ad will be saved under the campaign name you chose in step two. 

LinkedIn ad preview of laughing colleagues at a laptop with a subscribe CTA selected

8. Review and Launch Your Campaign 

All that’s left before launching your campaign is reviewing your campaign settings. And adding or updating your business information and payment method.

Campaign summary in LinkedIn Ads with business information box highlighted alongside forecasted results

Simply complete the “Business Information” form and click “Save.”

Address form with save button highlighted

Next, add the debit or credit card to be billed for the campaign. Then, click “Add card” followed by “Agree & launch campaign.” 

Or, click “Save and exit” to save your ad as a draft and return to launch it later.

Payment screen with coupon option and card details options
Newsletter signup 2024 ads campaign highlighted in LinkedIn campaigns dashboard

To review your campaign settings, hover over the campaign name and click “Edit & launch.” 

Newsletter Signup 2024 LinkedIn ad ready to launch in dashboard

This opens your campaign settings in the Campaign Manager. 

LinkedIn campaign setting interface with website visits selected as the chosen objective

Review each page and click “Next” when you’re ready to review the next page.

Three LinkedIn ad examples to review with next button highlighted

After reviewing your payment method on the third page and reading the Ads Agreement and Advertising Guidelines, click “Agree and launch campaign.”

LinkedIn ads payment gateway with card detail text fields and launch button highlighted

You can also preview your ads as they’ll appear to LinkedIn users from the page listing your campaigns. 

Simply click on the name of the campaign you just created. This opens a list of all the ads in your campaign. 

Newsletter signup 2024 ads campaign highlighted in LinkedIn campaigns dashboard

Next, click the name of the individual ad you want to preview.

A list of 4 Linkedin Ads for a Newsletter 2024 campaign with the first one highlighted

Your preview will open in a new browser tab. 

Company Name Example LinkedIn Ad preview with a man reading a tablet alongside newsletter signup text

9. Track and Manage Your Campaign

Once your campaign is live, track its performance using the dashboard in your Campaign Manager account.

LinkedIn Ads performance dashboard populated with 3 campaign groups

Image Source: LinkedIn

Use Semrush’s Social Analytics tool to get detailed analytics for your LinkedIn Business Page alongside analytics for your other social media accounts. 

Track metrics including: 

  • Follower count 
  • Number of impressions
  • Types of engagement
  • Engagement rate
  • Number of unique page visits
  • Performance data for individual posts

To get started, connect your LinkedIn account to your Semrush account. 

In Semrush, click “Social Dashboard” under “Social Media” in the main menu. 

Next, click “+ Create project.” Or, select your project from the list if you’ve already done so by clicking “Set up.”

Social dashboard tool by Semrush with 3 projects to set up and create project highlighted

Enter your domain name and give the project a name. And click “Create project.”

Create new social dashboard project for

A pop-up will appear, inviting you to get started with Semrush Social. 

Click “Connect” beside the LinkedIn option.

Semrush social start screen with LinkedIn connect button highlighted

Sign into your LinkedIn account using the resulting pop-up. 

Enter the email address or phone number associated with your business’s LinkedIn account, followed by your password. Then, click “Sign in.

LinkedIn sign in with email and password text fields highlighted

Click “Allow” to give Semrush permission to sync with your LinkedIn account.

Allow button highlighted underneath sync options to connect Semrush social to LinkedIn profile

If you manage more than one business page, select the pages you want to link and click “Add profiles.”

Company Name Example business page selected to connect LinkedIn to Semrush social

Click “Continue” to start using Social Analytics.

Semrush social profile successfully connected with party popper and continue button highlighted

Your LinkedIn account will now appear in your Social Dashboard. Click “Poster” to create and schedule LinkedIn posts. Or, click “Analytics” to view data about your page and posts’ performance. 

Semrush social dashboard with project listed

Toggle between the “Audience,” “Engagement,” and “Posts” analytics for your LinkedIn page. 

Social Analytics tool by Semrush with project and audience, engagement, and posts tabs highlighted
Posts tab of social analytics dashboard highlighted with data for example post

In the “Audience” report, you’ll get insight into your followers’ geographic locations, industries, company sizes, and job functions.

Social Analytics tool by Semrush with Audience tab highlighted

The “Engagement” dashboard provides detailed reporting on your page’s followers, engagement rate, impressions, reach, clicks, reactions, comments, and shares. 

Social analytics tool by Semrush with Engagement tab highlighted

Use the “Posts” report to track metrics for individual posts. Track engagement rate, likes, shares, comments, clicks, and impressions. 

Posts tab of social analytics tool highlighted with example post data

LinkedIn ads can be a powerful way to grow awareness and increase revenue. However, LinkedIn is just one piece of the social media advertising puzzle. 

To make the most of your social media resources, use Semrush Social to track and manage all your social media marketing efforts in one place. 

In addition to LinkedIn, Semrush Social currently supports content publishing and performance analytics for the following platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • X (formerly Twitter)
  • Pinterest
  • Google Business Profile

Try out Semrush’s Social Media Toolkit for yourself.

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