LinkedIn has joined the list of social networking sites launching ad networks, but the company says it has what it takes to succeed: members with good jobs.
The new network, named the LinkedIn Audience Network, offers advertisers "a very influential audience" of prospective customers made up largely of professionals, said Patrizi. "It's a very affluent audience," he added. "People join LinkedIn because they are interested in being very successful. They tend to be people taking on a lot of responsibility at a younger age. It's a very desirable demographic to a lot of advertisers."
Additionally, LinkedIn is promising that it will partner only with big-name, reputable publishers so advertisers need not worry about their campaigns appearing next to offensive or inappropriate material, said Patrizi. And while other social networking sites cull their users' publicly-revealed information to enable ad targeting, that information is often outdated or inaccurate, he said.
"We pair up audience size with accuracy," said Patrizi. "That is what's missing in many ad networks: accurate targeting data. Some sites rely on registration data that is not updated. But on LinkedIn, the profiles need to be updated."
In announcing the new network, LinkedIn noted "hundreds of top-tier advertisers have already run campaigns" on the LinkedIn Web site with ads based on LinkedIn member information found in profiles. This includes the industry they are in, their professions and seniority. LinkedIn offers advertisers targeting through a program called "inCrowds" that features pre-defined audience segments such as corporate executives, small business professionals and IT professionals.
The company said its formation of the LinkedIn Audience Network will give advertisers the opportunity to reach even more prospective customers "and build frequency across a wider set of sites."
Patrizi said the company is not yet revealing the names of partner publishers. LinkedIn is partnering with Collective Media for ad distribution. "They work specifically with high-profile publishers," he said.
Ad sales for the new network will be handled in-house by LinkedIn, said Patrizi. LinkedIn now has a seven-member nationwide ad sales team.
The company insists it is committed to protecting its members' private registration data. However, the publicly revealed data on all LinkedIn members' profiles is automatically included in the program unless members specifically notify LinkedIn they do not want to be included.
In July, LinkedIn announced a deal in which its users reading some sections of NYTimes.com would see news items related to their profiles.
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