- LinkedIn announced the launch of the LinkedIn Audience Network, a new native advertising network that will place Sponsored Content ads on high-quality, third-party desktop and mobile publishers using the social network's audience data, per a company news post.
- More than 6,000 advertisers on the business-oriented social media platform participated in a beta program for the network and saw an average 3%-13% increase in unique impressions served and an up to 80% lift in unique clicks. The post explained “unique” in the defined metrics meant the beta advertisers were reaching people they hadn’t previously engaged with on a LinkedIn owned and operated property via the new network.
- The similarity to the Facebook Audience Network, and not just in the nomenclature, wasn’t lost on Ad Age, although the publication's report included Divye Khilnani, group product manager at LinkedIn, stating that the LinkedIn network is different from Facebook, Yelp and Pandora’s similar offering because the company built its own technology and the network doesn’t work with data management platforms (DMPs).
Since being acquired by Microsoft last June, LinkedIn has been steadily rolling out new features and advertising options from a revamped desktop experience to an expansion of its LinkedIn Marketing Partner program. The ad network is the latest example and underscores the platform's interest in becoming a bigger player in digital marketing.
The goal of the strategy for LinkedIn is to boost its relevance to marketers by enabling them to reach potential new customers they aren't reaching on LinkedIn. While Khilnani made the case for how LinkedIn’s network isn’t a carbon copy of similar ad services on other social media platforms, it’s certainly a move that brings advertising on LinkedIn much closer to the experience marketers have come to expect from social media campaigns. In this way, it could help LinkedIn drive revenue from advertising, which has been a relatively small portion of its business.
So far, the news has been received positively with some expressing surprise that it has taken LinkedIn this long to tap into third-party publishers given it has long encouraged sharing of third-party content on its platform. There was a similar reaction last month when LinkedIn finally rolled out native video on its platform, with industry experts stating the capability was long overdue as brands and advertisers had long wanted the option on LinkedIn.