Country Manager | 14 Jun 2012
Globally, Hiring Solutions is our largest market. In India, both Marketing and Hiring Solutions businesses are growing. Hiring Solutions is unique and disruptive. There is nothing of this kind in this space, so we are leading in this space. We are attracting a lot of advertisers to the digital medium who were never present on this medium before.
Hari V Krishnan is the Country Manager at LinkedIn India. He is LinkedIn’s first employee in Asia. His focus is to help LinkedIn better serve its membership and customers on a local basis. He has worked in leadership positions in companies such as Yahoo!, Cisco Systems, Fox Interactive Media and Travelguru. His previous stint before joining LinkedIn was as Country Head for MySpace India. In his interaction with exchange4media’s Rahul Dubey, Krishnan explains how marketers are attracted to social media and his plans to target the growing number of professionals in India.
Q. LinkedIn India crossed the 15-million mark in May this year from 10 million in June last year. What has been the key catalyst of LinkedIn’s growth in India?
We have been steadily growing over the last few months. We started with 3.4 million users in November 2009 and in the last one and a half years, the number has accelerated. Our user base has crossed the 15-million mark and is growing faster. We do not look at it as an achievement in a short period of time as against our two years of achievement. The point is that growth trajectory is very strong. What is more encouraging is that people are beginning to understand our products and services. People are using it for several purposes. They are using to learn about companies and strengthen their professional identities. More than just professionals, we are leveraging the professional ecosystem. Companies like Wipro, American Express, ING Vysya Bank and L&T are associated with us. These are core Indian corporate and not early adopters of the digital medium. In the last two and a half years, we have become very core to the professional ecosystem in India. 15 million is a significant milestone by any standard.
Q. The numbers of users on social media is steadily growing because of Internet penetration and other factors, but are advertisers also attracted to LinkedIn?
We have added a lot of advertisers in the last few months. In the financial services space, there are marketers like American Express, Franklin Templeton. In the IT sector, we are associated with the likes of Wipro, Microsoft. There are core engineering companies like Cisco, IBM. So, a broad range of companies are associated with us. The audience on LinkedIn India is easily the most influential, educated and affluent. So, for B2C advertisers it is very attractive because they get a very unique audience. The platform can offer unique solutions online with a premium audience. This also enables B2B advertisers to reach out to a very premium audience on digital platform. There are many advertisers in India that are trying to facilitate B2B advertising on digital platform. The kinds of audience they interact with are decision makers. Finally, advertisers are beginning to see it (LinkedIn) as a core part of their digital strategy.
Q. Marketing Solutions, Hiring Solutions and Premium Subscriptions are the key revenue sources for LinkedIn. Which one of these is the most important in the Indian market?
Globally, Hiring Solutions is our largest market. In India, both Marketing and Hiring Solutions businesses are growing. Hiring Solutions is unique and disruptive. There is nothing of this kind in this space, so we are leading in this space. While new advertisers are attracted to the digital domain, those who had earlier put their toes in the water are now coming with serious investment in digital. We are attracting a lot of advertisers to the digital medium who were never present on this medium before.
Q. What are your plans for advertising on LinkedIn? Are we going to see more display advertising on the site?
Marketing Solutions includes banners, sponsored answer sections, company pages, etc. We have been selling banner ads from day one. The way we sell it is through highly targeted advertising method. We do not use forms like cookies, which could be against users’ privacy norms. People approach us and explain how they did not feel that there was an ad that they were watching. Advertising on LinkedIn is seen as value addition. Users see it as one more feature that they have discovered on the site. For instance, we have worked with a luxury watch brand and they brought it up to us. On LinkedIn, we know when people get promoted. The brand asked if we could target some people who are promoted above a certain level for the luxury brand and we did. The campaign performed remarkably well. The reason is obvious. As the digital space matures, advertisers will also not want their ads to look obnoxious.
Q. What kind of content sharing is expected between LinkedIn and SlideShare once the acquisition of the latter is complete?
SlideShare was one of our earliest partners. They already have an application on LinkedIn. It is a much deeper integration. Content generation and social sharing of content is a unique and interesting integration. Other social networks don’t do it, but SlideShare does. It will be interesting to see how their knowledge can be utilised. What we have been rolling out for the last few months through LinkedIn Today was about content. So, SlideShare will provide more value to our members.
Q. It appears that mobile is becoming an important part of your business. What are your plans to attract more users and advertisers to your mobile offering?
Mobile apps are the fastest growing consumer service on LinkedIn today. From about 8 per cent of our users in early 2011 to over 20 per cent today comes from mobile. That’s tremendous volume. We are seeing heavy adoption of all our apps. Our iPad was the most popular app in the store for a long time. It is doing extremely well. We are not trying to be everything to everyone. We are targeting only the professionals. Though we are focusing on consumer experience right now, we remain open to monetise it in near future.