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Social Media Advertising 101: LinkedIn Ads

Since launching in 2003, LinkedIn has become the largest global professional network with more than 460 million people using the platform. While LinkedIn is a great networking tool for professionals, it is also becoming extremely useful for many brands and their advertising needs. These days, most social media platforms offer advertising for their users, but LinkedIn stands out from the crowd because of its targeting capabilities to select exactly who you want to see your advertisement. If you are ready to grow your brand, here is what you should know about LinkedIn ads.

What is a LinkedIn Ad?

There are two ways you can advertise on LinkedIn: self-service ads and managed campaigns. With a self-service ad, you can set your own budget, choose clicks or impressions and pause your ad at any time using Campaign Manager. Formats available for self-service ads include Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail and Text Ads. Managed campaign ads allow you to partner with a LinkedIn team to create an ad for premium audiences. Formats that are available for self-service ads include Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail, Dynamic Ads and Display Ads.

Benefits of a LinkedIn Ad

The best part about LinkedIn is its unique targeting options. Since LinkedIn users input more information than other social media platforms, you can create highly-targeted ads by industry, job title, LinkedIn Groups, skills, etc, which makes it extremely useful for B2B marketing.

How to Create a LinkedIn Ad

Below are steps to create a self-service ad. For managed campaign ads, you will need to contact LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions team.

Step 1: Sign in to Campaign Manager

This is where you will manage your ads on LinkedIn. The platform has multiple features to help you reach your advertising goals. These include:

  • A breakdown of actions your Sponsored Content campaigns garner, including Clicks, Likes, Shares, Comments and Follows
  • A visual display of the data that matches your search and filter settings
  • Demographic categories of LinkedIn members who click on your ads, available at the account, campaign and creative level

Step 2: Choose a LinkedIn Ad Format

You can choose from Sponsored Content, Sponsored InMail or Text Ads. Here is a breakdown of each format:

Sponsored Content

This is native advertising that appears in the LinkedIn feeds of the audience you want to reach. Here are some features of using Sponsored Content:

  • Message will appear on every device (desktop, mobile and tablet)
  • Ability to include rich media (video, audio, etc.) to grab attention to your content
  • Test your messaging and optimize campaigns in real time

Sponsored InMail

With Sponsored InMail, you can deliver personalized content through LinkedIn Messenger. Features include:

  • Generate conversions with personalized messaging
  • Reach targeted audiences on desktop and mobile
  • A/B test messaging to resonate with your target audience

Text Ads

With Text Ads, you can choose between pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) ads. Features include:

  • Tailor messaging to the type of audience you want to rach
  • Pay for only the ads that work, either per click or per impression

In Campaign Manager, choose the account you would like to use to set up an ad, then click the ‘Create Campaign’ button.

Then choose from Text Ads or Sponsored Content.

Step 3: Create Your Ads

To create a Sponsored Content ad, you will have three options:

  1. Choose an update from your LinkedIn Company Page to sponsor
  2. Choose an update from your LinkedIn Showcase Page to sponsor
  3. Create a new piece of Sponsored Content

Once you’ve created your ad, you can see a preview before saving. Once you approve, select the content you want to promote within your campaign and click the ‘Sponsor Selected’ button.


To create a Sponsored InMail ad, enter a campaign name and choose a language for your ads. Options include:

  • Choose the sender. The sender’s first name, last name and profile image will appear in the recipient’s inbox along with the subject line of the message
  • Add message subject line and summary
  • Draft your message

Click ‘Next’, and add your landing page URL and optional banner image.

If you chose to create a Text Ad, you can start creating your ad.

  1. Choose where members should go when they click your ad. It can be your page on LinkedIn or a specific page on your website.
  2. Add your image, a headline (up to 25 characters) and a description (up to 75 characters). As you create your ad, you will see a preview on the right side of the page.

You can create up to 15 Text Ads to see which headlines, descriptions, and images get the best results.

Step 4: Target Your Ads

When creating your target audience, it will be the same regardless of which ad format you choose. Once you have created your ad, you will be taken to this screen:

LinkedIn’s ad targeting provides a wide range of criteria for your to select your audience. When you select additional criteria, it will show you how each additional option affects your estimated target audience size in the right sidebar.

Step 5: Set Your Budget

Once you have selected your audience, you will be directed to set the budget for your campaign. There are three options:

  1. Cost per click (CPC) –  used for action-oriented campaigns like lead generation or event registration
  2. Cost per impression (CPM) –  used for when brand awareness is the goal
  3. Cost per send (CPS) – used when you run Sponsored InMail campaigns. You pay for each InMail that is successfully delivered.

You will also need to input a suggested bid, daily budget, start date, end date and total budget. It’s important to note that LinkedIn uses an auction system for bidding that rewards engagement, which means you can win an auction without being the highest bidder.


Step 6: Measure Your Campaign

Once your ad is live, you will be able to see how it is performing in Campaign Manager.


Being one of the fastest growing social media platforms, advertising on LinkedIn can be a logical next step after promoting content on Facebook.