LinkedIn took linkedin logopersonalization to a whole new level today with the announcement of its newly enhanced social advertising platform, which is currently being rolled out to select members and will be released in phases over the next few weeks.

In a nutshell, the new platform personalizes the ads you see on LinkedIn using timely information from your LinkedIn network. The platform will include such social information as recommendations, connections, and company follows to deliver more useful and relevant ads to users.

What exactly does this mean? LinkedIn was kind enough to share a preview of a couple of sample ads to highlight its new layer of personalization:

personalized ad resized resized 600Left: In the recruitment ad on the left, job seekers are presented with connections within their network who could serve as possible referrals.

Right: In the general product advertisement on the right, the LinkedIn user is also shown network connections who are following the company displaying the ad in addition to the company's total follower count.

Worried about what this means for your LinkedIn privacy? Don't worry -- they've got you covered. Users' names or images are never shown to advertisers, and by opting out of the ads, LinkedIn users can rest assured that their name and photo are never used in advertisements to other users.

Implications for Marketers

My first thought was that this is a pretty cool move on LinkedIn's part that could really benefit a lot of marketers. A deeper look, though, reveals some bittersweet takeaways.

The Positive: For many marketers, the power of advertisements on LinkedIn just got better. The fact that third-party endorsements are now within actual advertisements could greatly serve to counteract the fact that they are advertisements and that marketers paid for them to be there. In the traditional world of marketing vs. public relations, public relations was always thought to have a greater impact over purchasing decisions because it resulted in earned coverage, which is perceived to be more credible than paid coverage or promotion. With LinkedIn's new ad platform, the lines are a little bit more blurred. Paid advertisements will now be backed by the credibility of third-party endorsements. Even better -- these third-party endorsements are from people the user actually knows and is connected with, making them even more trustworthy. The power of referalls in marketing is huge, and tying them to ads could help make them even more effective.

The Negative: LinkedIn's new ad platform should incentivize marketers on LinkedIn -- especially those who are using LinkedIn's ad service -- to also focus attention on building their business's organic presence on LinkedIn. With such information as follower counts now being displayed directly on ads, an ad from a company that has spent time to increase its LinkedIn follower count will likely be viewed in a much more favorable and effective way. Think of it this way. Which ad would you be more likely influenced by: one from a business with 25 followers, or one from a competing business with 250 followers?

What do you think of LinkedIn's new social enhancements to its ad platform? Will you start experimenting with LinkedIn ads?

Originally published Jun 23, 2011 5:26:00 PM, updated June 11 2021


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