LinkedIn Creates Product Pages In Bid for More Content-Marketing Dollars

Microsoft, HP, Cisco and Adobe Were Part of the Pilot Group

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LinkedIn is now letting brands create pages for specific products in a bid to bolster its positioning as a content-marketing vehicle.

While LinkedIn already has company pages -- more than three million of them -- that allow businesses like Adobe, Cisco, Microsoft and HP to post status updates and job openings, now it will let them give more granular updates about their product offerings and divisions. Those companies were included in a pilot test for so-called "showcase pages," which launch today.

For example, Microsoft is debuting a page for Office. Pages for Adobe Marketing Cloud, HP Big Data and Cisco Security were also part of the pilot.

Significantly, marketers can promote the content that gets published to those pages as sponsored updates that appear in users' news feeds. They're LinkedIn's rendition of native ads, since they show up between updates from users' contacts and posts by business leaders that they follow.

In that context, showcase pages look like an attempt by LinkedIn to ignite its nascent content-marketing play. If marketers are in the habit of producing more content and growing a following for several pages, they'll be more inclined to experiment with paid promotion.

LinkedIn has already made it clear that urging brands to promote the white papers and links to thought-leadership pieces that they're currently publishing on their company pages to a wider audience is the way it intends to grow its ad business. It's not currently making much of an impact on revenue, but the company only made sponsored updates widely available in July.

During the company's third-quarter earnings call, CEO Jeff Weiner repeatedly described LinkedIn's ad business as in a period of "transition" due to the shift toward sponsored updates and away from traditional display and custom sponsorships.

Revenue from LinkedIn's ad business, "marketing solutions," was $88.5 million last quarter, accounting for 23% of the company's total. It grew 38% over the same period a year earlier, when it accounted for 25% of LinkedIn's total revenue.

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