LinkedIn Debuts Its Own Audience Network, Making it Look Ever More Like Facebook

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In another move that makes LinkedIn look even more like Facebook, the company today introduced LinkedIn Audience Network, an offering similar to Facebook's Audience Network.

The new product allows marketers to reach LinkedIn members on apps and websites that aren't operated by the business-networking site. Such offerings are proving popular with tech companies: Yelp and Pandora made similar announcements last week.

The company said some 6,000 advertisers participated in testing LAN, adding that they saw an increase in unique impressions ranging between 3% and 13%. In a somewhat murky example, financial services and insurance provider Hiscox says it saw four-times more engagement when compared to "the benchmark for the financial services industry."

Still, with so many newcomers joining the fray with similar offerings -- and with Google and Facebook owning 85% of all new digital ad dollars -- LinkedIn might be facing an uphill battle as it attempts to coax more revenue out of marketers. And unlike Yelp or Google -- which have data indicating its users have high intent to make purchases after performing a search -- LinkedIn offers little beyond job title and location for marketers.

Divye Khilnani, group product manager at LinkedIn, said the company's new offering differs from those offered by Facebook, Yelp and Pandora -- which are powered by data management platforms Neustar, Liveramp -- because it built its own technology and doesn't work with a DMP.

Khilnani said that LinkedIn is working with ad exchanges like MoPub, Sharethrough, Rubicon, Google and Appnexus. He added that advertisers will be able to download performance reports that provide insights on clicks, impressions and engagement, allowing marketers to compare network performance against ads run on LinkedIn properties.

"Advertiser ROI is incredibly important and we've invested heavily in providing robust reporting capabilities, so marketers can improve and understand the ROI of their campaigns," he said.

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