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What imagery performs best on LinkedIn Ads? We’re diving deep on this week’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show.
Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.
Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics! One of the topics I get the most questions about on LinkedIn Ads is about creative, specifically the imagery. What kind of imagery works? What sizes do you include? What about the subject of the imagery itself? These are all fantastic questions. And again, we’re diving deep. You’re about to become a master of LinkedIn Ads creative. First in the news, if you’re not already subscribed to our YouTube channel, we just released an example analysis from Episode 71 that was all about how to use your CRM for reporting. And it’s beefy, it walks you through all the way from the beginning using real data and showing you every step of the way within Excel. So I would highly recommend go check that out and make sure that you can do that sort of reporting in your sleep. Okay, now on to the topic at hand, let’s hit it.
What makes great LinkedIn Ads creative. Let’s talk first about the sizes. When LinkedIn sponsored content first came out back in 2013, the size of imagery, it was all horizontal, and it was 1200 pixels wide by 627 pixels tall. And what’s funny about that number is because Facebook was always 1200 by 628, so one pixel taller. And this wasn’t that bad, because we could always use Facebook imagery interchangeably because that difference of one pixel didn’t make any difference really at all. But now LinkedIn has finally standardized on 1200 by 628. So it’s the same size as Facebook’s horizontal, although I’m guessing not many people are using Facebook’s horizontal images anymore. And then fairly recently, LinkedIn started supporting square and vertical imagery. So if you want to use square, which we highly recommend, and I’ll explain why here in a moment, you want to use 1200 by 1200 pixel, at least. You may also want to run vertical, and vertical is just the inverse of your horizontal, it’s 628 pixels wide by 1200 pixels tall. And one really interesting thing about running vertical creative is it’s only eligible to be shown on mobile devices. So if your goal is to be shown only on mobile and not on desktop, run vertical creative, it works. If you want to run carousel imagery, each of those panes in your carousel, you want to make 1080 by 1080. Text ads back in the day, back in like 2008, they used to be 50 pixels by 50 pixels. They ran a little while with 75 by 75. But now they’ve standardized on 100 by 100 pixels. And then for message ads or conversation ads. And this is optional, but if you want to use that ad space, the banner imagery in the upper right hand corner, which again, I highly recommend you might as well use it. It’s 300 pixels wide by 250 tall, which happens to be the same size as the optional background on spotlight ads. These are one of LinkedIn’s dynamic ads. Again, this is optional. So on the subject of square imagery, we just recently put a post out on our company page about square imagery. And it was really fun. We used a meme from Malcolm in the Middle, and it’s called the future is now old man, I love that meme. Thank you to Eric Jones on our team for pointing that out. And we pointed out how in all of our tests, square imagery tends to perform better than horizontal. Then Paul Fairbrother, who’s one of my connections, he commented and said, I ran a test on square versus landscape images for a lead gen campaign using square images, doubled the CTR and caused the cost per lead to literally get cut in half. I hate the one quick tip doubled your results type of headlines. But in this case, one simple change to the image format really did double the results. By the way, I had been running the landscape images for a while before switching to square so this was based on 1000s of dollars of ad spend. So should be statistically significant. Then Bram Pullens, whose Social Lead at Heineken said, “Square image all day every day.” And Praveen Vadla, he commented and said, “Yes, it works, you will increase your CTR for these ads.” In one of these tests we found and this is with statistical significance, that square performed 15% better to the click through rate. And if you haven’t listened to Episode 59 all about click through rate, go back and listen to that, you’ll immediately understand why it’s such a boon to be able to just pull higher click through rates out of nowhere, it helps your cost and helps your deliverability. Okay, here’s a quick sponsor break and then we’ll dive into what kind of imagery works best.
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All right, let’s jump into the types of imagery that work well on LinkedIn ads. So first, I think we have to talk about the subject of the image, what do you put in your image, because so many people, if you’re SAS software, or really any other industry that’s not selling something physical that you can hold, and you can show a picture of, then it is really difficult to figure out, okay, I have this thing that doesn’t really exist, what kind of picture do I put in an ad to show it off. One that we found works so well, is faces or people, and I’m specifically saying this is photographic. This is real people, because Illustrated people don’t tend to work as well. So Nancy Harhut, she runs an agency out of Boston. She’s a friend of mine, and we speak at a lot of the same events. And she speaks a lot about marketing psychology. And I love what she’s talked about in the past about including people in your ads, because she said, it creates human connection. We’re especially drawn to the eyes. And we’ve leveraged this in a couple of ways in LinkedIn Ads, if we have a picture of a person who’s making eye contact with the camera, that tends to perform pretty well. And the explanation I think Nancy talked about this, is that we as humans are programmed to look at faces for two reasons. It’s either we want to know, Is this person a threat? Or can I mate with them. So because of that innate nuance, we can use that in our imagery. Have a face, especially with the eyes making contact with the camera. So we as members of LinkedIn are navigating our LinkedIn feed, and we see that, it’s going to grab us, and we’re going to be paying a little bit more attention to what the ad copy is going to say. Something else that Nancy has talked about, is having the subject of the image looking towards your call to action or where you want them to look, because we as humans, we’re naturally looking where someone else is because I would imagine this is because we are always looking for danger. So we can get a clue about where danger is looking at where other people are looking. We had a client some time ago, they included an image in their ad of their CEO on stage, and his arm was extended. And it just so happened that it looked like he was pointing right to the call to action button. And this was an accident, but it caused the ad to perform so well, that we couldn’t unseat it with another ad that could perform better. And this was months after it was first launched. So I can definitely attest to pointing or looking at a call to action being another great use of using people. You can do lifestyle imagery, so just pictures of outdoors or something else. But obviously it needs to be related somehow to your product or service. We found illustrations to work quite well, even going as far as comics. So for instance, I had a client back in 2014. And we included a comic accustomed drawn comic for their business in our ads, and they performed so well they got some of the highest click through rates that I’ve ever seen. Because so much of everything that’s on LinkedIn is all buttoned up and professional. Having something like a comic that is traditionally not as related to business, it’s really going to stand out. We even had a client a couple years ago, who they created a comic around their service. And it was really inventive, really cool. And we ran it through carousel ads. So each pane in the carousel was a different pane of the comic, and they could read it and digest it that way. Very cool. A lot of times when someone is pitching an ebook, or a guide, or a checklist or something like that, in their picture, they’ll have a picture of a physical book. And the designer can just superimpose the first page or the title of it on this book. So the image, it looks like you’re actually looking at a physical book, but in actuality, it’s just an ebook. So it’s a PDF somewhere, something like that can be great. If you’re pitching and written asset. Screenshots of your product or screenshots of data, those kinds of things we’ve seen actually performed quite well, you wouldn’t think so because they look a little bit boring. But I think when you see something that’s a little hard to read, and you’re interested in seeing what’s there and what data is being shown, you’re gonna lean in a little bit more and probably be a lot more likely to click. I also really like just simple graphics, maybe it’s just a colored background with colored text on it. They tend to perform really well and they’re so easy to create. You really need to know the main purpose of the images in your ads. The main purpose of your image is not to convert someone. No one’s going to look at the image and immediately say, great, I’m ready to convert on whatever this is. The purpose of your image is to get someone to stop scrolling, we call it a thumb stopper. And you should and can test every kind of image out there. But it’s helpful to understand it doesn’t have to be high production value. It doesn’t have to be super professional. Sometimes looking a little bit less professional, helps it look a little bit more organic, and it draws the eye a little bit more. Years ago, at another company, I bought billboard media, and radio and TV. And it was all really interesting, because my background was in digital, but I learned something really important from my billboard rep. She told me when we were talking about the words that go on the Billboard, to use seven or fewer words. And this is because when you’re driving at high speed down the freeway, if something has seven or fewer words, you can pretty much get the gist of it without even taking your eyes off the road. But if it has more words than that, oh, man, you’ve got to take your eyes off the road. I think that’s irresponsible to ask motorists to do that. And I’ve definitely found that to be successful with billboards. And so I’ve taken the same rule and moved it over to LinkedIn. I call this the billboard rule. In your imagery, tried to have seven words or fewer. And it’s the same line of thinking that when someone’s on LinkedIn, they’re rarely there just for recreation, they’re usually on their way to do something. And so you only have a split second to get their attention. But if you’re following the billboard rule, whatever text you have on there, especially if it is relevant to them, and their career, you’ll be able to get them to stop scrolling, it’ll be that thumb stopper. I also got some really good advice from a designer once she told me that standing out, or sometimes we call it popping, is really all about contrast. And if you look at LinkedIn color palette, it’s all blues, grays and whites, obviously, unless the user is in dark mode, but the main color palette for LinkedIn and same with Facebook is very much blue. And so if you want your imagery to contrast against what’s on LinkedIn, and what’s on Facebook. If you look at what artists call the color wheel, find blue and then look exactly opposite on the wheel, the opposite of blue is orange. So if you can saturate your imagery somehow, or include accent colors, or brand colors, whatever, in your imagery that is heavy in oranges, reds, greens, purples, that’s going to stand out against most everything else that’s in the feed. We’ve also noticed that a wide variety of imagery has worked. And so it’s really difficult, I would love to give you like, here’s the beat to length formula for imagery that works 100% every time. But because imagery is so subjective, we don’t have that. And plus what works with imagery now may not work six months or a year from now, because user behavior changes and what we notice changes over time. I also want to mention that in testing, we haven’t found imagery to really “move the needle”. And what I mean by that is, if you’re running an AB test, and you keep everything else the same, but you just vary the intro, or you just vary the image, or you just vary the headline down below, then you can measure the performance. And what we found is the intro, the text above the image, is almost always the most impactful element in the ad. Meaning that if I only have a limited amount of budget, or a limited amount of time, the AB test I’m going to put together is AB test the intros. The next most impactful element is the headline. We found that keeping intros the same but testing the headline, that can have a little bit of an impact as well. And then I’ll say very, very rarely have we ever tested images, where one image super increase the click through rate compared to another. We have seen that with the sizes of images. So like having one running that’s rectangle and one that square we’ve noticed higher click through rates on the square. But as for running two images, let’s say one of them is a picture of an ebook and another as a person. Very rarely does that actually sway our performance. I will say I have seen it occasionally, where the image does play a big difference. One that I was doing for a big SAS company, this is several years ago, they had an illustrated picture of a person and they were holding a trophy with their hand up and cheering. And every single ad no matter what I tested, I could not unseat that image. The audience really liked that one. It swayed click through rates significantly, but that is very much a rarity. I would love to hear from you guys. If you’ve ever had your imagery really sway performance one way or another. I really view imagery like a binary. So unless you do it really badly, you kind of can’t screw it up. If your imagery super blends into the background, and no one even looks at the ads, it doesn’t matter what you have written as your intro, no one’s going to be reading that so of course you’re gonna get a really low click through rate. If you have an image that’s decent at getting someone’s attention so people are going to look over and read what you have as your intro, then there will probably be very little difference in the performance between your creatives. I get asked fairly often who does a good job at creative? Who can we look to for good ad examples? Well, in last week’s episode with Alex Rynne from LinkedIn, she shared several that were really, really good. One of my favorites is Revenue.io. In the show notes below, I’ve linked to the company pages, where you can see some of the ads that some of these companies have run. But I’ll walk you through four of these brands specifically and what we really like about them. First off with revenue.io, you’ll notice that in their imagery, there’s a lot of variety. And they rely very heavily on their purple brand color, which like we talked about, it’s divergent from blue. So that purple really does help it stand out, you don’t see a whole lot of purple on LinkedIn right now. Alex mentioned Optimizely was doing a good job so we went look at Optimizely’s ads, and most of them look like they were built very simply in something like Canva, there’s not a huge amount of production value, which I think is great. Anything that we as advertisers can get more efficient on or take less time doing is great. And so if you can have something that was built very quickly in Canva, outperform something that was designed by a professional designer in Photoshop. That’s amazing. Next, Alex mentioned Accenture. So we went and looked at Accenture’s and they have a lot of professional video, really high production value. And they also use a large variety of post types. So there’s a bunch of good examples in there of carousel ads and video ads, go check them out. The last example I want to share is Adobe. If you look at their ads, it immediately becomes apparent that they have professional designers, which makes perfect sense because Adobe owns Photoshop. So of course, all of that imagery was created in Photoshop. They use a ton of bright colors and effects and shapes, lots of visual eyecandy, which is exactly what you’d expect from Adobe. So there you have it, you are now masters of the ad creative process on LinkedIn. So I hope you all go out and create ads now that are getting two to three times the click through rates. You’re welcome. I got the episode resources for you coming right up, so stick around.
Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.
So the resources that we talked about during the episode, we have the YouTube video all about how to calculate your ROI on LinkedIn that we mentioned back in episode 71. So make sure you go watch that, because I take you through all of my processes for how to create great reports in Excel. And if you’re already good at Excel, you could probably watch it at like two times speed, but it’s ultra valuable information. So I can’t stress enough, make sure you go watch that. In the show notes. You’ll also see a link to the post that we did about square images on the B2Linked company page. If you’re not already following us there, go follow us we were putting out good stuff every week. You’ll also see links to the ads for Revenue.io, Optimizely, Accenture, and Adobe are examples there. And Nancy Harhut has the marketing psychologist, we put a link to her profile on LinkedIn so you can follow her. She’s always putting out great stuff. If you or anyone you know, is trying to learn more about LinkedIn Ads or get started, point them towards the course you’ll see the link down below and it’s the one that I did with LinkedIn Learning. It’s extremely low cost, and it’s one of the best quality courses out there. If this is the first time you’ve heard us, first of all, let me welcome you and invite you to look down and hit that subscribe button. If this is not your first time listening. Thanks for coming back. And I’ll tell you this, a great no cost way to support us would be to look down in your podcast player right now and hit rate. Of course, we want you to be honest, if we do a five star job, then great, but especially those reviews are really what fueled the podcast. So please do review us. If you’re not already following us on YouTube, go follow us there, there’s a link to that. And currently, we’re releasing a whole bunch of walkthroughs and tutorials on how to do really intricate reports in Excel for LinkedIn Ads. With any questions, suggestions, feedback, hit us up at Podcast@B2Linked.com. And with that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. We’re cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives.