Ever since Microsoft acquired it last year, LinkedIn has been busy making up for a lot of lost ground to competitors like Facebook. Advancements like news feed ads, retargeting, profile photo filters, and native videos have made the professional network look more and more like the world’s most popular social network than ever before.
This week’s announcement that LinkedIn is now offering a new advertising solution called LinkedIn Audience Network is another step in blurring the lines that separate Facebook and LinkedIn. The new advertising option enables LinkedIn advertisers to target its more than 500 million users on third-party web sites and apps. Click here for the explainer video.
“The LinkedIn Audience Network is designed to increase your marketing footprint beyond the LinkedIn platform so you can extend your campaign’s reach, deliver on your budget more easily, and get your content in front of the right people, wherever they are,” said Divye Khilnani, group product manager of LinkedIn marketing solutions, in a blog post.
To date, more than 6,000 advertisers have participated in the beta program of the Audience Network. LinkedIn says test campaigns have seen between a three to 13 percent increase in unique impressions served, and an up to 80 percent increase in unique clicks. Sites in the network include names you’ll know, like MSN, BusinessWeek, CNBC, and The New York Times.
If you’ve advertised on LinkedIn before, not much will change from a usability perspective. The main change is a checkbox on the advertising targeting section that says “Enable Delivery on the LinkedIn Audience Network.” After checking that box, you’ll be asked what category of site you want to target. “Careers,” for example, is a broad category.
Advertisers can also exclude categories. LinkedIn automatically excludes low-quality publishers, however, from its network and blocks any publishers that do not conform to their guidelines. More experienced marketers can even upload a block list to prevent ads from showing up on specific publishers or entire IAB categories of apps and websites.
“At LinkedIn, it’s our top priority to promote your content in a high-quality and brand-safe context,” said Khilnani.
Similarly to Facebook and others, LinkedIn has also paid close attention to tracking, enabling advertisers to view net new impressions and clicks from the Network. Advertisers can also export reports that display campaign performance by channel, including the LinkedIn newsfeed, on the LinkedIn Audience Network, or both.
“Understanding your campaign performance is crucial to measuring your advertising ROI,” added Khilnani. “When you deliver ads on the LinkedIn Audience Network, you can download performance reports that include clicks, impressions, and engagement that your ads get specifically through the network. This allows you to compare your network performance to your onsite performance.”
It’s worth noting that such advertising can be pretty risky if you don’t know what you’re doing. A report last year revealed numbers that showed almost half (48 percent) of online advertisement do not reach the intended audience. It’s sexy to think of your ads showing up across websites and apps all around the Internet, but just make sure you know what you’re getting in return for your hard-earned dollars.