Launched last July, sponsored updates are an area of strategic
focus for the company, but it hasn't disclosed how much revenue
they're bringing in.
Mr. Price talked about LinkedIn's usage trends (mobile now
accounts for 41% of its traffic), its recent focus on providing
insights to marketers, and why it's nothing like Facebook. Our
conversation with him has been condensed and lightly edited.
Ad Age: Do you want to change how advertisers
perceive LinkedIn from being a place that's almost entirely for
Mr. Price: Part of my own thinking about coming
here was I recognized how differently I was engaging with the
platform, so not just for recruiting purposes or even from a
networking perspective, but much more for content discovery and
exploration. I saw it becoming much more of a publishing
platform... We'll continue to invest heavily and even more in
b-to-b to continue to add new offerings for lead generation and all
sorts of things that we think we can do really well. But I will say
maybe an area I can assist the team with and help grow is
professional consumers, the high net-worth individuals, or
generally again, professionals -- that are interested in
automobiles, banking, credit cards, luxury travel, travel in
Ad Age: ComScore data showed that desktop usage of LinkedIn was down [in terms of
unique visitors and page views between the third and fourth
quarters]. Is that a concern?
Mr. Price: We have exploding growth, so there's
no concern in terms of growth or usage. It's a matter of managing
how members are accessing us… Clearly everything we're doing
is [being thought about] from a perspective of how people are going
to access and engage with us from a mobile device.
Ad Age: What sorts of mobile ads might we see
on LinkedIn apps in the future?
Mr. Price: What we're going to be doing is
thinking much more about that user experience. You will not see us
running big display ads. We're not going to be doing takeovers.
[We're] going to try to utilize the feeds in a smart way and think
about what do we make as a differentiated ad product for LinkedIn
and its members.
Age: Last year LinkedIn was public about phasing out big custom sponsorship deals in
favor of a focus on content marketing. Is that still the
Price: We're going to work with brands. If they've got big
ideas and we've got a big solution for them that fits their
objectives, then we're going to happily work in that capacity. But
what I want to build is a business that performs well and that's
repeatable and our clients know what they're getting from us. When
you do these large programs, they're generally one-offs. They're
hard to scale, hard to repeat, so it takes everybody -- both our
teams and the clients and agencies -- a lot of work to execute
those. But also, it's very hard to measure the long-term impact of
those deals, so what you want to do as a business is to bill the
fact that every day we can deliver for marketers with the products
that we have. So we're investing a lot in the area of our insights
to do that… [to show] not only that we have good performance
metrics, but that we can actually give intelligence to our
marketing partners about their audiences or about their brands.
Ad Age: Do you see
more competition coming from Facebook? They recently launched
job-title ad targeting.
Mr. Price: We see ourselves completely
different. And everybody, when I get into a room with a CEO or the
head of an agency, everyone immediately agrees that there's nothing
similar about the platforms. Mostly because it's all driven by
mindset and context really matters. When I see folks that are
spending money on Facebook and are thinking about it as a business
platform, it excites us because we've been slower; we've just been
building this business over the last few years. They've been
building it for a longer time.