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LinkedIn Intros B2B Spin On Facebook’s Custom Audiences To Target Ads
Advertisers can upload lists of up to 30,000 companies, and LinkedIn will target ads to those companies' employees.
LinkedIn is ready to let advertisers use their own data to target ads on the business-centric social network.
Similar to Facebook’s Custom Audiences, Twitter’s Tailored Audiences and Google’s Customer Match targeting options, LinkedIn’s new account-targeting option will let businesses upload lists of companies they do business with or want to do business with, and LinkedIn will cross-reference those lists with its own list of more than eight million company pages and show ads to its users who work for those companies.
“This is us launching our audience match platform, and audience match is effectively LinkedIn’s entry into the custom audiences world. Account targeting is the first capability we’re releasing as part of our audience match platform,” said Russ Glass, head of products at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, the social network’s advertising arm. He said that LinkedIn plans to develop the audience match platform so that marketers can upload different types of information, but he didn’t go into specifics.
In keeping with the audience match name — and in keeping up with what its competitors offer — LinkedIn will let advertisers use the social network’s data to filter the accounts they target by layering in its existing targeting options. Those preexisting options include someone’s location, job title, seniority level, gender and age, so that a company could make sure to only show ads to a client’s employees with “marketing” in their title, for example. Advertisers will also be able to upload lists of accounts they don’t want to target with these ads, which could come in handy if a company is fishing for new clients but doesn’t want to bug its current clients.
LinkedIn’s account targeting option doesn’t offer an altogether new capability. Businesses could already target ads on LinkedIn based on users’ current employers. But that was a manual process limited to 100 employer names, or “accounts,” in LinkedIn’s parlance. The new bulk process raises the limit to 30,000 accounts, Mr. Glass said.
For now, account-based targeting will only be available for two of LinkedIn’s ad formats: its Sponsored Updates format that puts promoted status updates in people’s content feeds and its Sponsored InMail format that puts promoted messages in people’s LinkedIn inboxes.
Only brands buying ads directly from LinkedIn’s sales team can use account targeting at the moment, but the company plans to eventually roll it out to brands buying ads through its self-serve tool. Comcast, Salesforce and Swrve were among the first advertisers to try out the new account targeting option.
For any businesses that might be hesitant to give LinkedIn their customer account lists and worried their competitors might be able to use those lists — directly or indirectly — to target their own ads, they shouldn’t be, according to Mr. Glass. “All that information is encrypted and secure so that no account could learn from another account,” he said.