LinkedIn Debuts New Targeting Feature for Marketers

Enables Campaigns Aimed at Up to 30,000 Companies at Once

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Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Nearly three weeks after shutting down its ad network, LinkedIn on Tuesday introduced a service letting marketers run targeted campaigns on a large scale, capable of targeting people at up to 30,000 companies at once.

Advertisers using the service, called LinkedIn Account Targeting, are able to present a list of companies they'd like to reach, which LinkedIn will cross-reference against the 8 million businesses in its network. Targeting can be further refined so it can reach profiles based on job function or seniority. The company has also improved its targeting for Sponsored Updates and Sponsored InMail, it said.

LinkedIn's customers were previously only able to share information with 100 companies, and they had to do so through a manual process. Most b-to-b companies want to pursue somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 accounts, according to Russell Glass, head of products at LinkedIn.

"It will allow us to iterate and innovate much more quickly as we add more different types of data to our Audience Match Capabilities," Mr. Glass said. "It will also allow customers to target -- or exclude -- companies if they want to do specific account-based marketing to their customer bases."

LinkedIn's Audience Match Capabilities, which is now paired with the company's new targeting service, is similar to services offered by Facebook or Twitter, where companies can narrow in on exactly who they want to reach in whatever campaign it is that they're running. LinkedIn said its latest offerings are a key pillar for its long-term strategy.

There will be additional offerings associated with the account targeting service in the future, Mr. Glass added, declining to elaborate.

Last month, LinkedIn said it will stop selling ads that appear outside of its walled garden, a move that will cost the company about $50 million in missed revenue but will save it higher-than-anticipated expenses. The company said ad revenue grew 20% year-over-year to $183 million in the fourth quarter. Still, LinkedIn saw an $8 million net loss in the period, and lowered its forecast for future earnings.

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