LinkedIn Officially Unveils Matched Audiences Platform

LinkedIn formally announced its new advertising platform on Monday, after a leaked presentation precipitated the news last month. 

LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences is a series of three marketing features that will roll out across all of LinkedIn’s advertising products over the next week,including LinkedIn Sponsored Content and LinkedIn Sponsored InMail. Marketers can access the new advertising capabilities via a self-service platform or by working with their LinkedIn account team member.

LinkedIn Matched Audiences aims to help business engage with accounts and prospects by combining LinkedIn’s professional data with marketers’ first-party data for more targeted and personalized advertising campaigns. Matched Audiences effectively combines three marketing features -- allowing marketers to target prospects on LinkedIn via Web site retargeting, account targeting and contact targeting.

LinkedIn has re-added website retargeting back to its platform after shutting down the advertising business in early 2016 due to rising costs. Since then, however, LinkedIn has gained the financial backing of Microsoft. 

Website retargeting enables marketers to re-engage Web site visitors with targeted advertising on LinkedIn and is “very core to marketers for customer lifecycle nurturing,” says Irina Skripnik, product manager at LinkedIn. “It’s a very powerful way to retarget customers and go after key targets, like specific decision makers.”

Account targeting can boost the prowess of account-based marketing programs by allowing advertisers to upload a CSV list of company names that are then matched against the 12 million company pages displayed on LinkedIn.

Email marketers may be eager to test the new email-based targeting feature, Contact Targeting, now available in LinkedIn Matched Audiences.

Similar to the email targeting programs of Facebook and Pinterest, Marketers can upload a CSV list of email addresses to LinkedIn or import contacts directly from one of LinkedIn’s partners. Marketers can import contact information directly to Marketo, Eloqua or Liveramp for now, but LinkedIn confirms they are investigating additional platforms for future integrations.

Unlike Facebook and Pinterest, however, LinkedIn gives marketers an advertising channel to reach prospects when they are already in a business mode.The uniquely business-focused context and mindset of LinkedIn is a boon to B2B marketers, says Skripnik. The goal of Matched Audiences is “to enable marketers to reach the audience that matters most to their business by combining the power of targeting and being able to pair that with relevant content,” she says.

Skripnik says LinkedIn has been piloting Matched Audiences since November. Over 370 advertisers participated in the pilot program, running more than 2,000 marketing campaigns utilizing LinkedIn’s Matched Audiences feature on Sponsored Content.

On average, Sponsored Content customers using Matched Audiences for Web site retargeting increased their click-through rates 30% while also experiencing a 14% drop in post-click cost-per-conversion. Account targeting users increased their post-click conversion rates by an average of 32%, while limiting post-click cost-per-conversion by 4.7%. Marketers that leveraged Matched Audiences’ contact targeting feature increased click rates by an average of 37%.

"Matched Audiences provides a way for us to re-engage potential prospects who have recently visited our client’s Web sites, helping to keep their brand top of mind,” says Michelle Pratt, senior paid media strategist at Yesler, an advertising agency that set up campaigns on behalf of software company Code 42. “Initial performance surpassed our other campaigns, generating one of our highest conversion rates and lowest cost per lead on LinkedIn to date."

The Microsoft-owned company made the Matched Audiences announcement alongside news of another major company milestone. There are now more than 500 million LinkedIn members across 200 countries utilizing the social networking site. 

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