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Former Googler Penry Price Is LinkedIn's New Ad Sales Chief

Will Focus on Advertising as Growth Area for Business-Oriented Social Network

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Penry Price -- a former top sales executive at Google who left two years ago to helm the ad-targeting firm Media6Degrees (recently renamed Dstillery) -- has been tapped to lead ad sales for LinkedIn.

Mr. Price will step into the role of VP-global sales for LinkedIn's marketing solutions business. Sales from that division composed 24% of LinkedIn's revenue in the second quarter, but advertising is considered to be a growing area of focus for the company, which makes most of its money on tools for recruiters.

Penry Price
Penry Price

The hire of Mr. Price in an equivalent role to the one held by Facebook's Carolyn Everson and Twitter's Adam Bain is a signal to brands and agencies that LinkedIn has serious ambitions for its ad business, which had already become apparent through its new positioning as a content-marketing platform. Earlier this year, it introduced sponsored updates, its version of native ads that appear in users' news feeds. It's busily pitching them to marketers who are intrigued by the proliferation of content on the platform, which includes contributed pieces by the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson and business headlines served in the "LinkedIn Today" module at the top of the home page.

A New York-based digital sales executive who's well known to agencies, Mr. Price was in a variety of roles during his seven-year tenure at Google. He ended his career there as VP-global agency sales and partnerships, charged with encouraging the biggest global agencies to use and spend more on Google search, display and YouTube. For the past two years he's been president of Dstillery -- which was until recently called Media6Degrees -- an ad-tech firm that helps marketers prospect for customers by matching characteristics of their existing customer base to people who exhibit similar behaviors on the web.

"Connecting the world's professionals has enabled LinkedIn to become a unique and powerful global resource," said Mr. Price in a statement. "I am excited to support the [LinkedIn marketing solutions] team and its current offerings, while helping establish new and even more impactful ways for companies to connect with their existing and future customers."

LinkedIn's most visible sales executive, Jonathan Lister, will continue to helm LinkedIn's ad sales in North America. He'll report to Mr. Price, whose globally focused role has been vacant for several years, according to a LinkedIn spokeswoman. In turn, Mr. Price will report to Mike Gamson, senior VP-global solutions, who leads sales for all of LinkedIn's business divisions.

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