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LinkedIn goes beyond the 'walled garden' with expanded portfolio

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LinkedIn goes beyond the 'walled garden' with expanded portfolio

LinkedIn has expanded its Marketing Solutions portfolio with the addition of new products and now offers advertisers a way to reach audiences across the internet. This follows activity over the last few months, which has seen the professional networking company open its publishing platform to all English-speaking nations as it seeks to broaden its horizons and provide a more substantial marketing solution to advertisers.

Late last year LinkedIn had bought Bizo, a business-audience marketing tool that allows marketers to target professionals through display and sponsored content. The idea is to provide advertisers a way to target audiences across the internet with relevant ads; something the likes of Facebook and Twitter have also turned their attention to over the past couple of years and, like these peers, LinkedIn also has an advantage—log-in data.

“The acquisition of Bizo has given us the capability to take a visitor through the entire marketing funnel,” said Ashutosh Gupta, Director (Marketing Solutions), LinkedIn India. And it is this acquisition that has laid the foundation for the expanded Marketing Solutions product portfolio.

The expanded portfolio now includes five products— LinkedIn Lead Accelerator,  LinkedIn Onsite Display, LinkedIn Network Display, Sponsored Updates and Sponsored InMail. “The LinkedIn philosophy is to connect professionals and make them more efficient and this is an extension of that thought—we are helping our customers reach the right audience,” said Gupta.

Explaining how the new products will enable advertisers through the marketing funnel, Gupta said that advertisers would be able to capture audience attention through Onsite Display and Network Display, then use Sponsored Updates and Sponsored InMail to further move him down the funnel before finally closing the journey with an acquisition or call-to-action with Lead Accelerator. 

The key product here is Lead Accelerator or LLA. It enables marketers to deliver relevant advertisements and content to both anonymous and known high-value prospects anywhere online, says LinkedIn. “LLA is a differentiated lead generation tool. 95 per cent of the traffic to a website bounces. What it (LLA) does is to make the traffic more intelligent using our data to slice and dice the traffic and then show them relevant communication through display and messages. It provides efficiency to all the other parts.” He referred to the approach as “identify, nurture and acquire”.

Gupta would not say which companies in India have been approached for the new, expanded product line. However, globally, Lenovo, Salesforce, Samsung and VMware are a few of the 100+ pilot customers already leveraging LinkedIn Lead Accelerator, said LinkedIn a statement.

LinkedIn’s solutions might not seem that much different from what others in the market already do, but Gupta says that for B2B and high consideration purchases, the Marketing Solutions portfolio is “very valuable”. “We think that it has a strong value proposition for purchases which take a long time, whether it is B2B or B2C products like auto, real estate, etc.,” he informed. Also, unlike others like Facebook, etc., advertisers can actually target people of specific designations or roles apart from other demographic considerations. In Lenovo’s case, its cost per lead decreased by 60 per cent, claims LinkedIn.  

Marketing Solutions is a relatively new addition to LinkedIn’s portfolio, which has, it would be fair to say, overly reliant on the Talent Solutions products-line for revenues. However, it has been growing rapidly. According to its Q4’14 filing, Marketing Solution revenue was up by 56 per cent and stood at $153 million and the company’s ambition for this product line is big. “As Penry Price (VP, Global Sales, Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn) put it earlier, we aim to touch $ 1 billion mark by 2017 for the Marketing Solutions Business,” said Gupta. Currently, Marketing Solutions accounts for around 24 per cent of the company’s overall revenue globally, informed Gupta.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest B2B network with 347 million registered users. Around 28 million of these are based in India, which is the second largest user base for the company after the United States.

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