LinkedIn has been ramping up its marketing offerings over the last year in the form of self-serve Sponsored Updates and brand Showcase Pages. The professional social platform moved forward Thursday with the roll-out of a Sponsored Updates API the company has alluded to in recent months. It has also formalized two new Certified Marketing Partner programs.
First, the ads API. What marketers can do that they couldn’t do before, according to LinkedIn, is enable targeting of native, in-stream ad units through a new Certified Sponsored Updates Partners program that includes AdStage, Brand Networks, SHIFT, Unified Social and the Salesforce.com ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. Marketers were looking for ways to scale their Sponsored Updates campaigns by using the social ads dashboards brands and agencies had previously invested in, the company said.
Although LinkedIn worked with companies such as AdStage prior to this deal, the extent of the ads platform partnership only covered LinkedIn Text Ads; the Sponsored Updates API echoes steps Twitter and Facebook have taken toward programmatically enabled native ad placements in-stream.
LinkedIn has also created a LinkedIn Certified Content Partners program to increase brand access to publisher content. On the flip side, publishers see value in LinkedIn's business-attuned audience.
What differentiates LinkedIn, according to publishers, is its audience specificity on 300 million professionally minded people.
“We are seeing a shift where people are thinking about LinkedIn not only as a place to meet their human resources needs, but for great content on a regular basis,” commented Jean Ellen Cowgill, president of Atlantic Media Strategies (AMS), publisher The Atlantic’s creative agency, one of a handful of Certified Content Partners that LinkedIn revealed Thursday. The remaining companies include: Bloomberg, CBS Interactive, IDG Communications, Newscred, Contently, Freshwire, Percolate and Group SJR.
Cogwill said LinkedIn is a good place to reach business niches Atlantic clients care about when they're in a business or professional mindset. In that sense the site is a contextual buy.
LinkedIn has been padding out its publisher relationships. Self-serve Sponsored Updates were an expansion of its burgeoning publisher network -- the company has content affiliations with some 1.5 million publisher partners and an Influencer network of 500 or so contributors. These relationships have resulted in posts from the likes of Richard Branson and Jonah Peretti, for example, which may show up in your newsfeed if you've been reading articles on leadership or business innovation.
Jon Williams, LinkedIn’s head of global agency and client solutions, told AdExchanger, “we have this incredible data on our platform about what are the topics people are engaging with and how are companies’ (campaigns) performing against particular trends or demographics?” LinkedIn’s recent release of “Trending Content” and a “Content Marketing Score” were designed to guide marketers through which pieces of content from its publisher ecosystem are best manifested.
“Our members are really looking for useful information to engage with, so it’s very much about the context on our platform,” he added. “The reason we’re investing in this partner program is because our content is quite different. It has to be relevant to members. We have data-informed content that is also written and curated by experts.”