LinkedIn's Direct Sponsored Content Allows Brands To Personalize Messages

Expanding its native ad strategy, LinkedIn is now giving brands the ability to personalize and test content in the newsfeed without having to originate posts on their LinkedIn Company Page.

Dubbed “Direct Sponsored Content,” the service represents an expansion of the company’s Sponsored Updates product. The idea is to help companies produce more relevant content by sending personalized messages to specific audiences, according to Ashvin Kannan, senior director of engineering within LinkedIn’s marketing services department.

“It gives [companies] the ability to test and retest a variety of content in real-time until they get it right,” Kannan explained in a Thursday blog post. “Doing so allows for enhanced performance.”

Direct Sponsored Content also lifts limitations on who can and cannot post in the feed.  

“Because content doesn’t have to start on the Company Page, different business units can try content specific for their audience with the Company Page administrator’s approval,” Kannan explained.

Comcast Business and NewsCred are among some dozen companies participating in the pilot, according to Kannan.

Launched a year ago, Linkedin’s Sponsored Updates now makes up 19% of the company’s Marketing Solutions revenue, according to internal figures.

The in-stream ads -- which run across the desktop, smartphone and tablet -- encourage users to “follow” companies, as well as “Like,” “Comment" and “Share” sponsored posts within their own networks. The ad content can take the form of an article, blog post, video or presentation.

Expanding its Sponsored Updates business is a no-brainer for LinkedIn, which has seen social leaders like Facebook and Twitter do well with similar services. 

Indeed, thanks to the success of Facebook’s News Feed ads and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, BIA/Kelsey recently predicted that native social advertising will eclipse social display for the first time by 2015.

Marking a big week for LinkedIn and its monetization efforts, the company just announced an agreement to buy Bizo, which focuses on business audience segments and marketing automation. LinkedIn said it plans to pay about $175 million for Bizo’s enterprise tools, which facilitate the measurement of display and social online advertising and audience segments.

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