How to stand out on LinkedIn without creating new content

The use of multiple ad formats

Welcome back everyone, you may or may not be glad to know I’m running out of memes by edition 003.

In other news, to run alongside this newsletter - I’ve built a timeline of LinkedIn Ad formats and how they fit in with the buyer journey, you can find that at the bottom of the newsletter.

And if you’ve no time to read this newsletter, book a call with me and I can make LinkedIn once less problem for you to worry about.


If you’re only using a single ad format on LinkedIn, it’s harder to connect with your audience.

I’ll tell you why with a story from a client meeting with a couple of years back while at LinkedIn. This particular client made me think about LinkedIn advertising in a completely different way.

(I was lucky to work with a lot of great growth marketing brains from various brands while at LinkedIn, these learning moments were common)

We were in a quarterly report and I was presenting some product roadmap opportunities, specifically around new features launching at the time. The marketing director wasn’t particularly responding to some of the product launches as I’d hoped. We had some reporting launches that I thought were the most interesting for her but it was actually the new ad formats that were really getting her excited.

“Great to see some new formats, we’ll get the team to test them all and see how we can make these work”

For context, this brand were completely performance-focused and ruthless with how they optimised, so what caught me was the fact she said “We’ll test and see how we can make these work”

I asked her “Make them work?”. To which she replied, “More often than not there’s a way to make the ad formats work, we’ll run tests until we find it. We know our audience is on LinkedIn, ad formats are just methods of distribution”

Then came the Lightbulb moment…

Using multiple ad formats provides variety, variety is a less spammy way to reach your audience. Which in her opinion, and now mine - may lead to greater brand resonance and engagement.

This way of thinking has helped me help other clients and contributed to a lot of great performance. I had a lot of clients doubling-down on only the best-performing ad format that they could see from their data, but that’s like last-click attribution.

Yes, the format works best but could you be feeding it with other formats to work even better? Probably.

Brilliantly visualised by Tom Fishbournes cartoon below.

Credit: Tom Fishbourne @ marketoonist

So we did some research…

Not to rely on intuition alone, we decided to do our own research internally as we wanted to back it with data. Was there a solid case that ad formats work together and improve overall performance?

The short answer was yes. We measured all advertisers on LinkedIn using multiple formats and found that:

  • Members who have seen a piece of Sponsored Content were 27% more likley to open an Sponsored Message or Conversation Ad

  • Members who seen a piece of Sponsored Content were 5% more likely to click-through to your landing page via a Text Ad

  • Overall, combined costs were cheaper.

You can also be sure that a large portion of these advertisers we tested hadn’t even intended to create a multi-format messaging strategy. They were more likely just testing multiple formats against each other and didn’t realise it was making their ads mutually better.

In conclusion of the research, use of multiple ad formats increased overall brand engagement and leads to a higher propensity to convert.

In our opinion, the reasons for this advantage are:

  1. Frequency: Your brand is viewed by the member more often

  2. Messaging: Mutiple formats allows multiple messages in different ways. Or the same message in different ways.

  3. It’s unique: Most of the competitors were only using one format

  4. Choice: People convert in different ways and you’re giving them options

  5. Customer journey: It’s an easy way to create a next-stage

Overall, you just stand-out more.

What brand doesn’t want that.

But how do I create a multi-format strategy?

Make use of Desktop formats…

On Desktop, it’s easier to create an experience. You have:

  • Sponsored feed content that’s easy to digest

  • Desktop only ad formats: Text Ads, Follower Ads and Spotlight Ads*

  • Message Ads that pop-up (Only can be served to members outside the EU)

As shown by the terribly drawn arrows below

These may seem a little boring but in truth -

you need to be maximising Desktop only formats because they have much higher conversion rates than mobile (my experience is usually around 3x)

If you can make Text Ads work, you’re getting cheaper clicks and higher conversion rates.

But they only work, when used alongside other formats such as feed Sponsored Content.

Be focused on mobile…

80% of Linkedin traffic is mobile

It’s harder to drive results on mobile but if you realistically want LinkedIn to work for your business, you NEED to make it work.

With mobile you’re only working with options of:

  • Sponsored content in-feed

  • Sponored Message notifications (only can be served to members outside the EU)

So you need to mix up your in-feed content, you need to create for multiple different ad formats - Static, Video, Carousel or Document Ads. They suit different people in different ways.

Also, be aware you create your ads on Desktop but most are shown on mobile. Make sure to prioritise how your ads look in the mobile preview over the desktop preview.

Why is it more important on LinkedIn than other channels?

The member experience is protected on Linkedin. Each ad format has it’s only specific limitations on how much it can be served to a member. Because of this it’s actually difficult to oversupply the LinkedIn member with an individual ads, I have expererienced it with some advertisers that manage to do this and recieved negative feedback before, but it’s rare.

Also, the lowest performing content finds it even harder to stand-out because of Campaign Quality Score, this score rewards the member with content from the advertisers who get the highest score. Multiple formats gives you a better chance to get a higher score.

Lastly, members convert in different ways. Sure A/B tests show which product performs better but if the A wins then do you just ignore the B altogether?

Conclusion: Introduce multiple ad formats if you haven’t already

Question any agency or paid-social manager that tells you something along the lines of “X ad format doesn’t work, let’s just go with Y”.

Granted some formats will be worse than others and yes, some formats bring the results down so much they have to be deactivated but… my point is to be weary of people nailing in a single format because it’s what’s worked for other clients. They probably haven’t figured out an effective usecase for other formats yet or realised that the formats work better together.

If you’re still not convinced, an easy way to prove this yourself is by using retargeting. Nearly always, results are better when members have been exposed to an initial ad format.

TLDR: You’ll have better-performing camapigns for longer if you use multiple ad formats. You don’t have to use all formats all the time but definitely incorporate a mix.

That’s it for this week…

If you’ve gained value from this newsletter, you can help me by sharing with your network.

You can directly reply to this email if you:

  • Have any questions on the content

  • Would like to discuss your own multi-format strategy on Linkedin

  • Want me to build a LinkedIn led social strategy for your business

See you next week.