When it last reported its quarterly earnings, LinkedIn revealed to the world that it would sunset Lead Accelerator, the B2B lead-nurturing product it inherited from the $175 million Bizo acquisition. The remnants would be fed into its Sponsored Content offering – which has developed into a major growth area.
Sponsored Content has continued to benefit from the move, according to LinkedIn’s latest Q1 2016 earnings reported Thursday. Now the company is piloting a capability that pushes that inventory beyond the LinkedIn.com site.
The offering, however, isn’t yet ready for prime time. “We want to deliver quality clicks at the scale we want to achieve,” said company CEO Jeff Weiner.
While LinkedIn’s unwillingness to devote the resources necessary to scale Lead Accelerator led to its demise, its tech has given Sponsored Content a boost. The product is growing 80% sequentially as “product improvements drove significant improvements in click through,” said LinkedIn CFO Steve Sordello.
Weiner added that Lead Accelerator’s tech and team has now been folded into a single unit under LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, which is focused around a so-called “campaign management platform” that has Sponsored Content as its core.
“[With the LinkedIn Lead Accelerator technology], we’ve accelerated conversion tracking, which is a meaningful driver of increased ROI,” Weiner said. “We’ve enhanced our targeting capabilities and accelerated development of our API capabilities.”
Sponsored Content makes up 56% of Marketing Solutions revenue. As a unit, Marketing Solutions pulled in $154 million during Q1, a 29% increase year over year. Marketing Solutions now comprises 18% of LinkedIn’s total revenue of $861 million.
And as Sponsored Content shoots up, display continues to languish.
“As expected, Premium Display declined approximately 30%, and now represents roughly 10% of overall Marketing Solutions,” Sordello said.
That’s down from 15% in Q4 2015. “As mentioned last quarter,” he continued, “we are testing programmatic sales in right-rail inventory, an area we will continue to explore throughout 2016.”
Despite LinkedIn’s excitement over Sponsored Content, many B2B marketers bemoan the loss of Bizo’s Lead Accelerator – with some grumbling that LinkedIn moved them from the familiar platform and onto its replacement platform with little notice.