LinkedIn Makes Pitch For More Consumer Tech Ads

As LinkedIn continues to ramp up its ad offerings, it’s making a bid for more consumer tech advertising with a new survey showing its members are big spenders in the category. The professional network says its users tend to be “indulgent techies” -- people who buy tech products often, spend more on each device and influence the purchases of others.

Specifically, LinkedIn members were twice as likely as the general population to spend $1,000 or more on consumer tech gadgets, with a quarter spending more than $2,000 last year. Nearly nine in 10 (88%) bought at least one tech gadget in the last year versus 80% overall.

That’s not such a big gap, but the research showed a divergence in handheld devices. Almost nine in 10 LinkedIn users own smartphones, and 62% have tablets, compared to 46%, and 22%, of the population generally. Tablets in particular are gaining rapid adoption, with 38% of executives at vice president or higher levels planning to get one this year, and 36% of managers below that level.

The study, based on a December 2012 survey of 520 U.S. LinkedIn members, also highlighted gender-based differences. Men are more likely to consider themselves early adopters than women (51% to 34%), and more likely to describe themselves as influences (77% to 59%).

Women are more likely to say they would use a social network to find (65% to 50%) and share (58% to 48%) information about a tech product. They’re also more likely to be influenced by positive product review than men, by 54% to 53% for smartphones, and 66% to 57% for tablets.

Given their avid tech buying habits, 68% of LinkedIn users overall said other people turn to them for about advice about making tech purchases. Perhaps amplifying their influence is social media. More than half (56%) turn to their social networks for help before making a tech purchase, while 53% share information about what they buy afterward.

Among LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn users also indicated they trusted LinkedIn far more than the other two social properties as a source for tech product information from experts, brands and their peers.

“Given the value of these passionate consumer tech buyers, it makes sense for consumer technology marketers to create campaigns aimed at indulgent techies, even as they continue to market via lifestyle channels,” wrote Mike Weir, head of category development for the tech sector, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, in a blog post today.

The company’s push to become more of a publishing platform through SlideShare, the launch of its Influencers blog network and even the redesign of its profile pages also brings LinkedIn more into the consumer sphere. Whether the changes will help the company attract more consumer tech advertisers isn’t clear. But during its fourth-quarter conference call, CEO Jeff Weiner noted that BlackBerry was among the brands testing a new in-stream ad format on the site.

Even more than LinkedIn, BlackBerry is now trying to straddle the business and consumer markets with its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, so the two companies are a logical pairing.

In addition to its own survey, the LinkedIn study included data from a February 2012 Consumer Electronics Association  study covering the influence of social media on consumer tech purchases and an April 2012 study by the trade organization on device ownership. 

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