a complete guide to linkedin ads

With a user base of over 300 million working professionals and a plethora of highly relevant information on each user, LinkedIn advertising solutions have become powerful tools for marketers. Advertising on LinkedIn is less a question of when or if a company should embrace it, and more a question of how best to go about it. That’s why we thought it would be beneficial to bring you the different ad solutions offered by LinkedIn.

Whether you’re completely new to advertising on LinkedIn or just looking for some additional help, we’ve put together these tips and strategies to help you build out your LinkedIn marketing strategy.

Getting Started

The Self-Service Advertising Platform

LinkedIn Advertising Partner Solutions

LinkedIn CTA GIF

Getting Started

Creating a LinkedIn Company Page

Before you dive into some of the paid LinkedIn ads, it’s best to create a Company Page. A Company Page is a great way to interact with your customers and share valuable content. Here’s what Sprout’s Company Page would look like if you were to do a search for us on the site:

linkedin company page example

Company Pages also open the door to Showcase Pages, Company Updates and Sponsored Content, which we’ll discuss later. You can figure out how to create a LinkedIn Company Page at this link, but here are the requirements as listed by LinkedIn:

  1. You must set up a personal profile with your actual first and last name.
  2. You must attain profile strength of either “Intermediate” or “All Star.”
  3. You must have several connections on your profile.
  4. You’re a current company employee and your position is listed in the “Experience” section on your profile.
  5. You have a company email address added and confirmed on your LinkedIn account.
  6. Your company’s email domain is unique to the company.
LinkedIn CTA GIF

LinkedIn Showcase Pages

Showcase Pages are extensions of a Company Page designed to showcase a specific product, service or initiative of your business. This is a great solution if there are multiple solutions provided by your business, each with different types of fans and followers.

linkedin showcase pages example

Showcase Pages give fans the ability to pick and choose which sections of your business they’d like to receive updates for. These pages also give admins the ability to share organic and sponsored updates. Here’s how you can create a LinkedIn Showcase Page:

  1. Choose which aspect of your business or which product deserves a Showcase Page.
  2. Navigate to the “Edit” menu on your Company Page and choose “Create a Showcase Page.”
  3. You’re ready to start sharing your content!

The Self-Serve PPC Advertising Platform

With the LinkedIn self-service platform you can start to reach a highly targeted audience for as little as $10 per day. The platform’s self-service targeting criteria includes the ability to segment by: company, job title, job function, seniority, school, skills, groups, age, gender and much more.

Display & Text Ads

Once your account is set up and ready to create ads, it’s quickest and easiest to start with the PPC display ads. These ads appear up in a number of places, such as the user’s inbox and on the side and bottom of the homepage. Self-service display ads give you the ability to include an image or video, as well as ad copy.

Image or Video

If you want your advertisement to get clicks, it’s extremely important to include an image along with the ad copy. LinkedIn guidelines include a lot of helpful information, and in the ad platform they state that having an image included in an ad will drive “20% more clicks.” The dimensions of your image should be square with a maximum size of 50 by 50 pixels. The best advertisement image varies company to company, but there are typically three types of images advertisers on LinkedIn default to: images of people, their product or their logo.

linkedin display & text ads

LinkedIn has also incorporated the ability to advertise a video on their sidebar. Once users click the ad it will pop out to show them a quick video advertisement. At this time your videos must be square and no longer than 20 seconds in length.


Your ad headline has 25 characters to make an impression with your audience, so make it count. One way is to try using headlines catered to the specific audience that the ad is targeting. Another great strategy is to bolster engagement by asking your audience a question. For example, in the ads above we used the headline “Social Media Manager?” It’s simple, but it’s also targeted and engaging.

Once you have reeled them in with a thought-provoking headline, it’s time to drive them home with some great body copy. You have 75 characters to fit a brief description of what it is that you’re offering and to ideally include a call to action. To continue with Sprout as an example, one of our most successful descriptions is, “Turn Fans & Followers into Customers with Sprout Social. Try it Free Today!”

linkedin ads copy example

Our targeted audience will understand the social media references, we’ve included our brand for a lasting impression and there is a clear call-to-action telling users about our free 30-day trial.

Once your page creates an update, you have the ability to pay to have that update distributed to a larger audience on the LinkedIn network. Where other ads show up on the sides or at the tops of pages, sponsored content appears right in the user’s news stream, which will typically lead to more engagement.

linkedin ads sponsored content example

It’s easy to sponsor a post, just follow these steps.

  1. You need access to a Company Page if you’re going to sponsor content. Navigate your way to the advertising platform, click the “Create new campaign” button, and choose “Sponsor Content.” Now you can pick out the update or updates that your company has created that you want to distribute to a wider audience.
  1. Choose the audience to which you want to distribute that content. It’s important to remember that each piece of content is different, and that one post may not be relevant to certain groups, so make sure that you’re picking the right audience.
  1. Pick out a bid for your sponsored content. Bids will run on either a CPC or CPM basis, and it’s important to test and optimize which option drives the best cost per lead/conversion for your company. LinkedIn will recommend a bid range, but often it’s necessary to go over that amount to guarantee your ad is spending its entire budget.

LinkedIn Advertising Partner Solutions

Premium Display Advertising Types

These display ads feature the same targeting features as the self-serve ads. However, they differ in both the placement and size of the ads that you’re able to serve your audience. There are four different display ad formats available for these marketers. All of these dimensions are courtesy of LinkedIn itself.

Medium Rectangle (300 x 250 pixels)

This is the display ad that appears above the fold on the right hand side of pages. The Medium Rectangle ad appears on the home, profile, company, and group pages, as well as LinkedIn Today.

linkedin medium rectangle ad size

Wide Skyscraper (160 x 600 pixels)

The tall ad that appears on a user’s inbox and message pages.

linkedin wide skyscraper ad size


This option doesn’t include an image. It’s a line of text that appears on the home, profile, company, group, and message pages.

linkedin textlink ad example

Leaderboard  (728 x 90 pixels)

This landscape style image appears at the bottom of certain feeds, making it one of the last things users see before leaving the site.

linkedin leaderboard ad example

These display ads give marketers a lot more freedom to be creative than the self-serve ads.

Sponsored InMail gives advertisers the ability to send a form of email message to any of the over 300 million LinkedIn users. The InMail feature also uses LinkedIn’s robust segmenting features to choose a highly targeted group of users to send your message to. This is a great opportunity to send a detailed message to a specific set of users.

linkedin sponsored inmail ad example

Fortunately for advertisers, LinkedIn has imposed a limit on the number of sponsored InMails that a user can receive in a certain time period. This helps guarantee that your messages won’t get lost in all of the noise. Each user is only able to receive one InMail every 60 days.

Follow Company Ads

If you’re just starting out as a company on LinkedIn, it’s important to grow your following. These are ads that appear on a user’s page in order to encourage them to follow your company. There are two main reasons that you’d want to create these types of ads. You can create them to increase your brand’s credibility on the social network, or you could do it because once someone is following you, you can use a Company Update to promote content to them for free.

linkedin follow company ad example

Recommendation Ads

These ads appear on a number of different locations and can help advertisers showcase a specific product. The ad shows the company name, the product, the amount of people who have recommended the product, and buttons for users to recommend or share the product.

linkedin recommendation ad example

Join-Group Ads

Groups are a great way to get communities to engage with one of your products. ­­­If you’re looking to increase the amount of users you have participating in a group, this is the way to do it. These ads will show the name of your group, a brief description of the topics that will be discussed, and a clear call to action button asking users to join.

linkedin join group ad example

New Ads

The LinkedIn advertising solutions are constantly improving. In order to keep up you can sign up for LinkedIn’s monthly marketing newsletter. Or, visit LinkedIn’s solutions page.