LinkedIn Expands Ad Program With Launch Of Sponsored Updates

LinkedIn just announced the launch of Sponsored Updates, where the companies and other organizations with Company Pages can pay to promote their content to LinkedIn users who don’t follow their specific page.

Asking advertisers to pay to give their content more visibility has become a pretty standard way for social networks to make money, and LinkedIn had previously said it was pilot testing this program. Today, however, marks the official launch. Here’s how LinkedIn’s David Hahn describes Sponsored Updates in a company blog post:

Marketers are increasingly leveraging content to inform, educate, and inspire their current and prospective customers. But the high quality content they’ve produced – slideshows, articles, videos, and whitepapers – does not always achieve enough reach and engagement on their own channels. With Sponsored Updates, marketers will be able to distribute this content directly to relevant professionals in a place their customers and prospects are already consuming professionally relevant content. Marketers can target Sponsored Updates to any segment of our premium audience based on professional profile data across more than 225 million members.

Hahn said the company has “taken a measured and methodical approach to create an experience that strikes the right balance for our members and companies.” Promoted content will be clearly marked as “sponsored,” but users will be able to interact with it like any other piece of content.

Sponsored Updates can be priced on either a CPM or CPC basis (i.e., based on impressions or on clicks), and advertisers should be able to view data on their campaigns and tweak their efforts as necessary. As for rolling the product out, Sponsored Updates are supposed to be available to any company with an account representative starting today, and to anyone with a Company Page by the end of the month.

The initial customers include Allstate Insurance, Box , Domo, Charles Schwab, General Electric, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan Motor Company, The Weinstein Company, Wall Street Journal, and Xerox, Hahn said. His post also looks at sample campaigns from Adobe, Telstra, and HubSpot — HubSpot, for example, saw 400 percent more leads from their LinkedIn campaign than from other paid efforts.

In its most recent earnings report, LinkedIn said that revenue from its Marketing Solutions ad products was $74.8 million, making up 23 percent of total revenue and up 56 percent from the same period last year.