Posted January 26, 2011 9:08 am by with 7 comments

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LinkedIn has finally taken the beta tag off of their self-serve ad platform. The beta tag has been in place since 2008. So rather than looking like Google in keeping a beta tag on an offering until it rusted the time has come for LinkedIn Ads to be ‘official’. Of course, the talk of a first quarter IPO can help a company to ‘clean up shop’ a bit as well but who’s counting.

As reported by MediaPost

LinkedIn Wednesday formally launched its pay-per-click, self-serve ad system after being in beta since 2008. Rebranded as LinkedIn Ads, the text-advertising service formerly known as DirectAds mainly expands audience targeting options to include job title, LinkedIn groups and companies. Previously, the platform offered several targeting choices such as age, gender, geography, job function and seniority.

Below is a good look at the options for targeting ads that can be utilized.

LinkedIn is in a very unique position because its audience defines itself very specifically on purpose and leaves little room for guessing who someone can potentially be based on title, location etc, etc. To take advantage of this information that is given freely and readily by LinkedIn users advertisers can target ads for up to 100 job titles and the drill down potential is very interesting indeed.

With the new options, the company aims to capitalize on the wealth of professional and work-related data it has from its 90 million members. “We’re really focused on helping advertisers reach exactly the audience they’re looking for,” said Jack Chou, senior product manager at LinkedIn. “No one else has the type of professional data we have and the ability to marry that with the type of targeting capability we offer.”

One concern is whether this targeting will be too much’ for some users who will not like the fine tuning that could single them out. While I think this is an issue in the real world I suspect it won’t be as much so in a ‘closed’ environment like LinkedIn. Most people who use LinkedIn are very open with information and open to suggestion. As a result, seeing a targeted ad based on information that you show to most people anyway there should be little push back. Heck, if there is anywhere on the Internet where fine-tuned targeting makes sense it’s here.

LinkedIn is being smart, however, and doing a CYA in their approach to the potential concerns of a likely loud few about being too targeted.

Advertisers may welcome deeper targeting, but what about users? If an ad hits too close to home, could that be jarring for members? Chou said the company’s ad service uses only non-personally identifiable information for targeting purposes. He also said that if a targeted campaign has too narrowly tailored an audience, LinkedIn won’t allow it to run. He did not say what that threshold was, however. “It’s certainly a way for us to make sure that no single piece of targeted data is personally identifiable with the new targeting features,” he said.

So how do you use LinkedIn? Is it important to you and your social networking efforts? Could your company benefit from being able to zero in on very specific professionals? Does this kind of targeting capability creep you out or is it just another day at the online office?

Give us your thoughts in the comment section today. We would love to hear from you.

  • Joshua Corbelli

    I’ve never been truly convinced how well ads will do on LinkedIn. The idea sounds great to advertisers: Access to millions of people, most of which have high incomes and disposable income, and who are well educated. And naturally, it just kind of seems that those members would be more immune to advertising attempts of this nature.

    I admit, I could be completely wrong. In fact, I’ll buy some ads to test my theory for my clients. Anybody disagree?

    • @Joshua – As with anything you really do need to try it out before you can draw conclusions. I know my gut is often correct but there have many times as well where what I perceived to be ‘the truth’ and a no-brainer was quite the opposite.

      Keep us posted on how your test goes. Thanks for chiming in.

      • Joshua Corbelli

        Thanks, Frank, for the response. I really enjoy this site – definitely on the morning checklist. See you around.

  • I’m wondering if this will be used more than anything by recruiters. I get hit up all the time on Linkedin by head hunters… that seems the best use of the ‘job title’ type targeted. Otherwise you’re really just saying ‘I want to sell a product to someone who I think makes lots of money’ which is not really ‘targeted’ in the internet sense. Just my two cents…

  • Hi all

    I think for B2B there is certainly an opportunity here. Many of the more niche companies I deal with need to sell in to a specific department, within a specific type of company, within a specific industry/sector.

    They can sometimes struggle to do this with other forms of marketing (DM, email) as such detailed data can be prohibitively expensive to acquire and, while ads in industry magazines are an option, again they can be expensive – they’re left with a budget-driven choice between one big, great ad near a related feature once or twice a year or a series of smaller, more vague ads in every issue.

    But the ability to easily target a particular product or service to the exact buyers is perfect for those types of business.

    On a personal level, targeted online ads in general really irritate me. They’re often based on gender, age and suchlike but frequently miss the mark (e.g. Facebook ads) because while I do fit those loose criteria, my buying behaviour isn’t typical of my peers.

    However, the LinkedIn ads are fairly unobtrusive and relate to my work and I’m much more open to being targeted well, as they’re showing me products and services I’d actually be interested in for my business.

    I’d be less keen to see ads for personal products and services aimed at me on LinkedIn – it’s where I network for business after all and offline I wouldn’t expect or want, say, a cosmetics company visiting me at my desk in the office – but for B2B? Yes please!


  • Jonathan R

    Beware! Don’t get caught out by the LinkedIn Ads promotions. – I recommend avoiding LinkedIn DirectAds.

    Just before Christmas 2010 I got a $100 promotional coupon emailed to me by LinkedIn to try DirectAds. I had to register my credit card with them for a $5 initial charge to open the account. A few weeks later I checked to see how the ad trial was going and found that over $250 had been taken from my credit card account (in four separate transactions) as the $100 coupon amount had been used in just a few days! I had received no notification from LinkedIn of any of these charges to my credit card.

    I have disputed this with LinkedIn and they say that the user agreement says they can charge the registered credit card for any amount at any time !

    LinkedIn refuse to accept that the promotion was unclear about charging and they point blank refuse to refund any of the charges. In fact they took a final $48 more after I asked for my credit card to be removed from their system. I never had any trouble like this with Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing.

    Don’t fall for the marketing hype – save your money and avoid LinkedIn Ads.

  • For my company, I have had more success using Adwords than linked-in ads, by far. The CTR is significantly lower on Linked In, but the new expanded targeting features may improve click though rates.

    We shall see.