11 Intelligent Examples of Inbound-y Ads in the Real World

Download Now: Free Marketing Plan Template
Rikki Lear
Rikki Lear




How are your paid ad campaigns? Are you impressed or do you wish you could give them a shot of espresso? If it’s the latter then you should consider making your paid ads inbound-y. Wait, did you ask, what are inbound-y ads? Good question, well let’s start from the beginning.

Traditionally, paid advertising was considered to be incompatible with inbound marketing. As you will have probably experienced, many paid ads can be unhelpful and fail to satisfy the needs of the user conducting the search: 

Bad content

Interruptive, unexpected ads are certainly not inbound-y 

However, it’s possible to create paid ads that satisfy the needs of the user. By creating an ad that incorporates the inbound methodology, you can create an 'inbound-y' ad. 

Hold Up, What Exactly is an 'Inbound-y' Ad?

When HubSpot realised 53% of their customers were using PPC alongside inbound marketing, they considered if it was possible to create 'inbound-y' ads.

PPC + Inbound = Inbound-y Ads!

We've determined the following criteria for classifying inbound-y ads:

  • The ad is shown to the right people, at the right time
  • The ad presents a direct solution to a search query
  • The ad moves the searcher further down the Buyer's Journey
At least two of the above must be true for the ad to be considered 'inbound-y'. 

So, What Are The Benefits?

Combining the inbound methodology with your paid search strategy allows you to understand your audience and create extremely effective ads that will engage at all stages of the Buyer’s Journey.  Moreover, ads that are inbound-y are smarter and will be more inviting to people searching online rather than traditional interruptive paid searches.  

We've scoured the web and collected 11 smart examples so you can see some inbound-centric paid advertisements in action.

1) EA Access

This EA Access ad was seen on the user’s Facebook account after they had preordered the Xbox One game FIFA 16. The buyer had reached the buying stage of the journey by pre-ordering. This ad then retargeted all customers who pre-ordered the game to offer them an exclusive opportunity to upgrade their purchase and gain early access to play before everyone else.

 EA Access

Inbound-y ads such as this one are far more intelligent than the interruptive and un-targeted ads we have been used to in the past. As with this example, they are created to engage with the right audience and offer helpful and timely information that encourages the searcher along the Buyer’s Journey.

2) The Blog Starter

To find this inbound-y ad, the user searched the term 'blogging', into Google. Rather than offering opportunities to build their own blog, The Blog Starter ad offered a free step-by-step guide to learn all about blogging. As the user is at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, they just want to know more about it rather than get started themselves, so this ad is attracting visitors with useful information.



This ad directs the user to a FREE step-by-step beginner's guide on how to make a blog. This is valuable content that answers many preliminary questions people have before they create a blog. It’s inbound-y because it appears at the right time, to the right people and offers helpful information to educate the searcher.

3) Yext


To see this ad, the searcher visited the Yext website and signed up for an online demo. Then through effective retargeting, this ad appeared in their Facebook newsfeed, offering a free gift for the searcher to come back to the website. As the user has visited the website previously, the ad is immediately more relevant which means that the viewer will more likely be interested in this incentive to visit the site again.

This is a great example of bottom of the funnel lead nurturing as this inbound-y ad attempts to close the deal and does so in a relevant format, at the right time.

4) Contently


As a suggested post, this ad from Contently appeared in the news feed of a user who is interested in content marketing. Rather than bombarding every Facebook user, this ad appears in front of the right audience only. In this case, the user works in content marketing so the topic of this type of ad was certainly relevant.

This sponsored ad is inherently inbound-y as it’s offering useful content about SEO, bringing the reader in at the top of the funnel and moving the searcher further down the buyer's journey. 

5) AO.com, Currys and others 

 32 inch curved TV

Here, the user knows exactly what they want. They aren’t looking for blogs to help them decide what size or type of television they want, they are looking to buy a TV. The 32” curved TV ads by AO.com, Currys (and the others) are further examples of inbound-y advertisements. They are satisfying the user’s exact need by showing the exact television size rather than trying to catch the searcher’s attention with a different size or type of television.

6) Internet Advertising Bureau UK


When the user saw this advert on LinkedIn it was a result of visiting Internet Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) website and signing up to their newsletter. This ad retargeted the user and invited them to listen to a webinar discussion about the future of video in marketing. As the user has signed up to IAB, the ad is relevant to them and attracts them to the website with insightful information - making this ad inbound-y.

7) Money Advice Service

how to buy a house

After making a search query about buying a house, this ad offers all the information to questions people will likely have when buying a property. The ad is perfect for visitors at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. At this point in time, they are lacking information and don’t want to be hassled by house sellers, they just want to increase their knowledge.

This inbound-y ad offers all the insightful information first time home buyers would need to attract them to the website.

8) Intercom.io


This Facebook ad appeared on the user’s sidebar after they had been searching for more information online on how to improve their business’ marketing strategy. At this stage, the user is still looking for information so this ad by Intercom, a marketing software company, is a perfect example of an inbound-y ad in action. It attracts the user to the site with valuable information and will hopefully guide them onto the next stage of the buyer’s journey. 

9) Michael Hyatt - Virtual Mentor 

Michael Hyatt

This Facebook ad is inbound-y as it appeared in front of relevant people. As the user follows Jeff Goins on Facebook, this invitation to join their FREE online event was a great top of the funnel offer. The ad is being shown to the right people and encourages them along the buyer’s journey as the free session offered insightful and valuable information.

10) Gum Gum

Gum Gum

Another inbound-y advert found on LinkedIn. The user follows GumGum on LinkedIn and has been to their website before. By retargeting the user with paid advertising, GumGum’s inbound-y ad works to attract the user to the site with valuable information in the form of a free guide. After the user downloads the guide they are directed further down the journey.   

11) WordStream


After visiting WordStream on multiple occasions, this user saw this inbound-y ad whilst surfing the internet. As the user had visited WordStream before this isn’t a random advert to them, it’s relevant to their interests. This ad is inbound-y because it targets people who have already visited their website and is offering valuable information in the form of a free guide to encourage them to visit the site again and hopefully move them further down the buyer’s journey.


If you're convinced ads can be inbound-y and want to jump straight in, make sure you read our amazing eBook first. In the eBook you will find 5 simple steps you can take to reduce your PPC investment without sacrificing the success of the campaign. 

Download the FREE eBook:

New Call-to-action


Outline your company's marketing strategy in one simple, coherent plan.


    Marketing software that helps you drive revenue, save time and resources, and measure and optimize your investments — all on one easy-to-use platform