The State of LinkedIn’s B2B Media Plans
“The effectiveness of display ads is one-tenth of the effectiveness of native and sponsored content,” says Russell Glass, who founded Bizo in 2008. Glass has been at the forefront of this transformation as the former king of B2B banner ads. “Engagement rates for sponsored content are greater than half a percent,” he adds, saying the average display ad response is measured in hundredths of a percent today.
Bizo became the leading B2B ad network. It placed millions of banner ads each month with inventory partner websites, including many B2B publishers. Bizo grew the largest database of business people of any company not named LinkedIn, aggregating demographic segments to retarget.
Now Glass is head of marketing products at LinkedIn, which purchased Bizo two years ago. Neither display ads nor the desktop environment are LinkedIn’s future. LinkedIn officially closed the few remaining Bizo ad operations early this year. LinkedIn’s B2B advertising sales are focused on delivering messaging through mobile apps and sponsored content, doing targeting within apps.
Audience data is LinkedIn’s core asset. No surprise when you have 430 million users -- more than 100 million in the U.S. -- who dynamically correct their data profiles. The giant career and jobs platform encourages marketers to bring their own data, from which LinkedIn creates demographic segments for them. LinkedIn uses look-alike modeling to match other prospects to marketers’ own lists, expanding message delivery to the most likely buyers. They can further refine targeting by offering subsets of segments, such as reaching only the marketing or finance department within a given group.
Russ Glass has taken a lot of grief from me in my blogs and articles over the years. With my publisher-centric POV, I was the only one describing how Bizo was in the business of telling advertisers why your media brand is not needed to reach your audience. They were the definition of a frenemy to our industry. I was among the legion of publishers earning thousands each month as a Bizo partner while warning they were directly coming after our business. With that in mind, I salute that Russ always offered encouragement, professionalism, and a smile in my efforts to disseminate information to publishers.
What’s in it for publishers?
Harking back to this friendly dichotomy, I asked Glass how publishers can best take advantage of LinkedIn services.
“Marketers have been acting more like publishers,” Glass notes. He recommends it is time for “publishers to act more like marketers” in response. For example LinkedIn can help media companies expand their audiences using the same modeling and big data. Some publishers I talk to are trying to figure out how create their own audience expansion business. Before you invest in a DMP I suggest you consider paying LinkedIn to do the work, marking it up and reselling it to test the waters in your market.
The main recommendation Glass makes is to use the LinkedIn content feed, “the centerpiece” of its app, to grow your audience. “We are seeing dramatic increases in traffic back to publishers” as LinkedIn helps get “the best, most valuable content” to a wider group of potential readers. He says Bloomberg is doing a great job of “sponsoring articles of interest . . . getting a ton of amplification.” That is the best starting point I can share if you want to analyze how a business publisher might successfully use LinkedIn as a traffic driver and audience expander.
I will leave it to you to sort out the pros and cons of providing free content to a competitor.
Andy Kowl is a journalist and entrepreneurial publisher with more than 30 years developing, marketing and growing publishing companies. He is senior vice president of publishing strategy for ePublishing Inc., the leading enterprise publishing system (EPS) provider which manages content, audience data, workflow, newsletters and e-commerce for hundreds B2B online publications. He helps publishers increase reader engagement and response by integrating behavioral data with contextual content, and shows them direct ways to monetize the results. Andy writes the B2B Beat blog for Publishing Executive magazine. His background in B2B includes publishing, editing and/or owning magazines and information products covering specialty retail, horse breeding, real estate, credit unions, Wall Street compliance and wireless technology.