LinkedIn looks to boost ad targeting with new brand opportunities


The LinkedIn iPhone app

LinkedIn is ramping up its advertising offerings with Showcase Pages, which should enable the business-orientedsocial network to fine-tune ad targeting.

Showcase Pages are an extension of LinkedIn Company Pages and enable companies to showcase specific products or other aspects of their business. The move brings LinkedIns offerings more in line with what other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Google + already offer brands.

As LinkedIn users follow Showcase Pages and engage with this content, they provide rich signals as to their individual interests, which helps brands build demographic and psychographic profiles of their audience, said Todd Herrold, senior director product marketing for Kenshoo Social, San Francisco.

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In turn, this will enable LinkedIn to provide brands more granular ad targeting on the platform, boosting ad relevance and performance, he said.

As mobile adoption and usage rates continue to grow, so do the opportunities for marketers to leverage their newly created targeting profiles by serving the most relevant and mobile optimized content to those who use mobile apps as their primary LinkedIn interface.

Highlighting specific content
While much of the focus on marketing and advertising in mobile social is on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn offers an important opportunity for large business-to-business marketers. And, as mobile use of social networks continues to grow, mobile is a key part of the opportunity.

LinkinedIn now sees 38 percent of unique visits from mobile, which is up from 8 percent in the first quarter of 2011. Additionally, the social network reports that users who access via mobile are 2.5 times as active as desktop-only users.

Microsoft is one of the first brands using thenew Showcase Pages

LinkedIn is not breaking any new ground with Showcase Pages but is adapting strategies that have proven successful on Facebook for its own more business-to-business oriented audience.

Showcase Pages feel very similar to Facebooks Timeline Pages; both provide a canvas for brands to create value for existing and potential customers by highlighting specific content, Mr. Herrold said.

Advertising revenue
However, while Facebook gets a significant portion of its revenue from advertising, less than a quarter of LinkedIns overall revenue currently comes from advertising.

In order to build its mobile ad business, LinkedIn needs to get users to view the network as a valuable resource for news and updates so that they spend more time on its site and mobile app. LinkedIn is reportedly developing a series of new apps, possibly with this in mind.

With Showcase Pages, LinkedIn users can now choose to follow the aspect of a business that they are specifically interested in.

Initial brand partners include Microsoft, Adobe and HP.

For example, Microsoft has created a Showcase Page for Office 365 that features posts from the Office blog, Twitter updates and other relevant content.

Other brands with Showcase Pages include Adobe for its Marketing Cloud services and HP for Converged Infrastructure.

Mobile a must
Showcase Pages are the latest example of how LinkedIn is trying to beef up its marketing offerings.

For example, this summer, LinkedIn introduced sponsored posts to help brands drive user interactions such as clicks to off-site content. Initial brands included Nissan, Adobe and Xerox (see story).

Showcase Pages working on mobile was a must, and mobile was the primary device LinkedIn had in mind when decided to build Showcase Pages, said Sophie Vu, vice president of global marketing and communications at Kony. It is now well known that mobile is the primary method for reaching your users and connecting to content.

With that being said, enabling companies to promote networking events, announcements by the company such as IPOs or acquisitions, promote products they are building, promote job opportunities, etc., Showcase Pages enable companies to do that on LinkedIn for reaching the professional audience, she said.

I don’t believe its a massive opportunity that will change the game of marketing, as I believe the concept of Showcase pages has already been done by other social media outlets. It simply is another avenue for marketers to use.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York

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