LinkedIn, now with 238 million registered users on its social network for the working world, wants to follow in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter and turbo-charge its advertising effort. Speaking during the company’s quarterly earnings call, LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner, in answer to a question from an analyst, said that the social network will be introducing an advertising API, so that brands and agencies can more easily make bigger media buys on the social platform. An exact date was not named, but Weiner said an ads API was a “high priority.”
“Introducing a robust set of APIs for social marketing agencies to best leverage the platform is a high priority,” he said. “We’re not pre-announcing a date but it’s high on our list.”
To be clear, LinkedIn already offers an Ads API, but it’s in a limited, private release at the moment; its partners are Adobe, AdStage, Bizo and Unified. Launching a wider, public advertising API, therefore, would be a sign of how LinkedIn is looking to get more serious about how it makes revenue from ads on its platform.
An advertising API will also allow companies to more easily make media buys, and will specifically mean that third party social media marketing and advertising agencies will be able to link up with LinkedIn, which can then get incorporated into larger media buys made through those agencies.
And, following from Facebook’s introduction of an advertising API in August 2011, and Twitter’s in February 2013, LinkedIn introducing an advertising API will also be a sure sign that we will start to see more ad units as a result.
Right now, LinkedIn does not break out how much money it makes from advertising. The company tells me that it roughly categorizes those revenues in its “Marketing Solutions” division (one ad unit, where companies can advertise to “Work with us”, goes into Talent Solutions). In LinkedIn’s Q2 earnings reported earlier today, Marketing Solutions made up 24%, or $87.36 million, of the company’s $364 million in total revenues. With LinkedIn’s user numbers and features growing — including enhanced home pages for users with more news and other information, as well as a revamped search — there is room for ads to grow, too.
And that’s before considering mobile. The company has only recently started to introduce advertising on mobile, which now makes up about a third of all of LinkedIn’s traffic.