LinkedIn on Tuesday announced the launch of programmatic buying to make it easier for advertisers to buy LinkedIn Display Ads, which they can now buy through their preferred buying platforms, either through an Open Auction or via LinkedIn Private Auctions.
The general availability of programmatic buying follows a LinkedIn pilot program that kicked off in the third quarter of 2015.
LinkedIn is touting the new program as a way for marketers to interact with professionals with display ads on the network. But do business professionals actually click on those ads? They do, according to the company. “LinkedIn is by far the most scaled platform for business professionals out there, and you can reach a lot of them in a highly targeted way. Our ad units are all above-the-fold placements—we score high in viewability and the platform is a conducive environment for display ads,” Glass said.
The new programmatic offering is specific to display ad placements on LinkedIn’s desktop platform. LinkedIn also has two ad products that are available via its mobile app and desktop. One is a sponsored content ad unit within the newsfeed. The other is LinkedIn’s sponsored InMail unit. These two units are not part of the programmatic display offering.
The new programmatic capability for LinkedIn Display ads is specific to real-time bidding. “We’re now making LinkedIn’s inventory available through the open auction,” Glass said. Advertisers can bring their own data if they choose, use LinkedIn targeting, and homepage targeting, in which ads are only served on the LinkedIn homepage.
“The reason we’re doing this is because advertisers have been asking us for an easier way to access our display inventory,” Glass said.
For those marketers that are already buying programmatically, LinkedIn says its Open Auction function is the “fastest way to buy LinkedIn Display Ads programmatically,” according to the blog post.
For advertisers looking for additional targeting capabilities, its Private Auction tool is an option. The Private Auction can use LinkedIn’s proprietary member personal targeting features. For example, a marketer can target IT decisionmakers, and if it doesn’t want to use its own first or third-party data, LinkedIn will make its targeting available. LinkedIn now has 433 million members globally.
Essence, an agency that’s participating in the program, is quoted in the blog post: "Accessing LinkedIn programmatically has given Essence access to quality inventory, at scale, while allowing us to monitor performance in-house, in real time. Not only can we efficiently reach our desired target audiences--such as SMBs; we're able to leverage our own tools, leading to high viewability and performance across LinkedIn,” stated Agatha Isabel, programmatic media planner, Essence.
As for potential integrations with Microsoft technology, Glass said he has no news about that at the moment.