In B2B marketing, distributing content to the right audience of professionals is the key to any outbound strategy. LinkedIn can be a goldmine for B2B companies that want to grow their reach online with the launch of a Sponsored Updates feature. The feature allows marketers to get content in front of a larger, more qualified audience through updates targeted specifically at people who are likely to be interested in them.
Targeting the right audience will save you money and increase the ROI of your LinkedIn campaigns. Sponsored Updates enable more than 3 million company pages on LinkedIn to build relationships by delivering content into the homepage feed of members beyond those who are following their company.
As noted by David Hahn, LinkedIn’s vice president of product management, “With Sponsored Updates, marketers will be able to distribute this content directly to relevant professionals in a place their customers and prospects are already consuming professionally relevant content. Marketers can target Sponsored Updates to any segment of our premium audience based on professional profile data across more than 225 million members”.
FaberNovel research indicates that LinkedIn is the fastest growing talent network, having two new members every second and IT being among the top five job functions on it. Australia has passed 4 million LinkedIn members with the bulk of its revenue coming from its talent services division, focused on recruitment tools. The Sponsored Updates fit into the marketing solutions division, which to date has accounted for 27 per cent of revenue, as Caitlin Fitzsimmons, the editor of BRW, states. Over the past year, LinkedIn has expanded its features to become more of a content platform.
LinkedIn has been testing Sponsored Updates in the feed over the last six months with companies like Nissan, Xerox, and Adobe, while in Australia, Telstra was the first brand to trial this product. Much like Facebook and Twitter’s programs, Sponsored Updates is LinkedIn’s latest foray into monetising the content marketing engine it has built. The interesting fact is that both premium LinkedIn members and basic account holders cannot opt out from seeing Sponsored Updates. You can take the same actions on a Sponsored Update as you can any other piece of content you see. They are distinguishable from other posts in your feed by the word “Sponsored,” which appears in the post next to the company name in gray. Interestingly enough, Greenlight poll of Facebook users showed that 15 percent would pay – and 8 percent would pay up to $10 a month – not to see any ads in their feed.
These updates will be visible on any device – on your desktop, smartphone or tablet and the only way to remove them is to manually remove each one individually, which will ensure they do not appear again. However, this is just a solution for removing individual update, but you cannot hide updates from specific companies. Some premium LinkedIn members would expect to have the ability to opt out from these advertisements. After all, shouldn’t paying for a service cut down the amount of advertising we see? As this feature proves – the advertising stays nevertheless you’re paying and despite being premium members subjected to Sponsored Updates from companies you are not interested in.
This brings up another question – are LinkedIn premium members prime target audience and the main reason the offering is attractive to advertisers?
It has been already discussed that this feature targets the audience of professionals outside of marketers’ connections. However, given the profiles of premium professionals, the tailored Sponsored Updates seem to be targeted exactly at those paying professionals, not allowing for profiles and users’ content to be prioritised but rather grab their attention through these features.
Overall, LinkedIn is developing a professional publishing platform and creating opportunities for marketers to drive business results by sharing relevant content with members. On the advertisers’ part, this feature is great, but from users’ perspective it might be just a matter of time until some mechanisms are requested to be put in place to prevent publishing too many Sponsored Updates against those coming from peers.♦ End