When the LinkedIn IPO was announced, many stock market analysts opined that even the $45/share suggested price was too high. They were dumbfounded when the opening day price rose to more than $120/share.
However, if the $45/share price was based on the company’s current assets and near-term profitability, that clearly does not represent its long-term potential. That’s because LinkedIn has the business users to give it huge potential for advertisers. And, right now, it is clearly the leader in that market.
LinkedIn claims to have:
• 1.3 Million Small Business Owners
• 2 Million C-Level Executives
• 5.5 Million High Tech Managers
• 12 Million Small Business Professionals
• 40 Million US-Based Members
• 100 Million Worldwide Members
The LinkedIn advertising platform is designed for self-service, much like Google’s AdWords. For those of you who have tried to set up your own AdWords advertising campaigns, you understand that it is easy to spend too much on these ads and get too little results.
Having a professional set up and manage your campaigns is always a good investment because the key to success is limiting the number of people who click on your ad to only the most qualified and read-to-buy prospects. That requires an understanding of behavioral targeting and how to use the tools the advertising platform provides to target these prospects.
Unlike AdWords, the LinkedIn platform does not provide the opportunity to bid on keyword searches. At least, not yet. But, back in January the company improved its advertising platform so that an advertiser can now target LinkedIn members by:
• job title
• job function
• company name
• company size
• or LinkedIn Group.
Like AdWords, you control your advertising costs by setting a budget. And, like AdWords, you pay only for clicks (website visitors) or impressions (the number of times your ad is viewed).
Above is an example of what a LinkedIn ad looks like
Ads can appear in a number of places on LinkedIn, depending upon the targeting you choose. For example, ads can appear on:
• Profile Pages (when users view the profile of other LinkedIn members)
• A Member’s Home Page (the page that users see when they log in to LinkedIn)
• A Member’s Inbox (the page where users see messages and invitations to connect)
• Search Results Page (the page that is displayed when you search for a member by name)
• Groups (on pages in LinkedIn Groups)
The Groups option offers especially valuable opportunities, I think. There, an advertiser who is an active member can bolster his company’s brand with ads appearing among the group’s postings. In fact, your ads can either link to your company’s website or to a personal or company LinkedIn page.
The LinkedIn advertising platform also makes it possible to test the effectiveness of different versions of your ad (ie., one that links to your company website vs. one that links to your company LinkedIn page).
For consultants and other professionals with specialized expertise, this may be the most powerful advertising medium available. Similarly, if you sell a product appropriate for a narrow business market, LinkedIn may be a better medium than the typical industry or trade journals.
With the previous LinkedIn advertising platform, the social media site’s advertisers were primarily recruiting firms. The platform did not allow enough targeting to make it viable for most others. As a result, many Internet advertisers are looking at LinkedIn for the first time.
If you sell b-to-b and are interested in testing LinkedIn for your next advertising campaign, give me a call at 720-341-6336 (my Denver office) or 210-341-6336 (for San Antonio callers).