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For going on a year, LinkedIn has been repositioning its ad business around content marketing. Now it's launching new tools to let advertisers see how they're faring as publishers within its walls.
LinkedIn will now start assigning brands content-marketing scores to gauge the effectiveness of their posts to company pages, their branded groups, posts by company "influencers" who are part of LinkedIn's publishing program, employee posts, and "sponsored updates" ads that appear in users' streams.
It will also let advertisers see "trending content," or topics and articles that specific audiences -- such as IT decision-makers -- are reading the most.
While these insights are free, they're only available to brands with a LinkedIn account representative right now. Presumably those customers will be more inclined to spend on sponsored updates -- LinkedIn's native ad unit that appears on desktops and in mobile apps -- if they have evidence that those ads are resonating with their intended audience.
"We are moving to a model where providing insights to our customers is a core strategy," said Alison Engel, LinkedIn's senior director of global marketing.
Ms. Engel said that the tools are intended to help brands plan their LinkedIn campaigns and tweak the ones that are already in progress. Reach is one lever they can pull to increase their score; they can buy sponsored updates and launch ad campaigns to acquire followers for their company pages. Upping the frequency of company posts and increasing user engagement by producing higher-quality, targeted content are other score-boosting methods.
Content-marketing scores are calculated by dividing the number of LinkedIn users who've engaged with a brand's content -- be it an ad or a post by an employee or something else -- in the past month by the target audience of users who have been active in that monthly period. The number is then multiplied by 1 million.
The score can be calibrated for target audiences like business decision-makers in a given industry to show how the brand is performing relative to the "best in class" at reaching that audience. There's also an overall score to show how well the advertiser is doing across the LinkedIn network, and the brand can see how it stacks up against its competitive set.
LinkedIn is also sharing "trending content" insights with advertisers. They can learn which topics are of greatest interest and which articles have been shared the most among target audiences (such as business travelers or C-level health-care executives) and tweak their strategy accordingly.
As the company makes a big bet on becoming a publishing platform, it's hoping that marketers will see the value in becoming better publishers.
"Companies are rallying behind what's their distinct value proposition and owning a voice around that conversation," Ms. Engel said.