In a move that was probably inevitable, LinkedIn is introducing video advertising as one its Sponsored Content formats.
Although my LinkedIn newsfeed already includes plenty of video, Abhishek Shrivastava, director of product for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, explained for advertisers, the only way to incorporate videos was to link to other websites. Now, the Microsoft-owned professional network is rolling out a native ad format, where video ads will appear as standalone posts in the feed.
The video ads will play automatically, though with the sound turned off initially.
Other social networks introduced video advertising years ago, but LinkedIn is a different environment — Shrivastava touted this as a way to bring “sight, sound and motion” to business marketers, while the company announcement declares that the company is going “all in on B2B video.”
Shrivastava added that while most videos are seen as ideal for “top of the funnel” marketing (i.e., building awareness, rather than sealing the deal), LinkedIn’s Video for Sponsored Content is designed to work “across the funnel.”
So yes, the videos can be designed to build brand awareness, but they can also point directly to the advertisers’ desktop or mobile website, or even be used to collect leads. And they can incorporate LinkedIn’s ad targeting and conversion tracking capabilities.
LinkedIn says it’s been testing the format with more than 700 advertisers since October, resulting in engagement times that are nearly three times longer than those for regular Sponsored Content.
In addition to the video ads, LinkedIn is also introducing the ability for businesses to include native video on their Company Pages — so a company that’s hiring might highlight a video about their culture and work environment.
LinkedIn says it will be rolling out these capabilities to all businesses over the next few weeks.