LinkedIn Sells Nearly Half a Bill Dollars in Ads Last Year

Big Plans for Bizo in the Near Future

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LinkedIn revenue has climbed steadily, partly on the back of ad sales.
LinkedIn revenue has climbed steadily, partly on the back of ad sales.

LinkedIn's advertising revenue reached $153 million in the fourth quarter, a 56% increase over the same time the year prior, the company said Thursday. Advertising, which LinkedIn calls "marketing solutions," comprised 24% of its total revenue compared with 22% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Full-year advertising revenue in 2014 was $454.5 million, up 46% from the prior year.

LinkedIn's content-marketing product "sponsored updates" -- which allows advertisers to place their blog posts on LinkedIn members home pages -- fueled the increase. Content marketing is now one-third of total advertising revenue, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said during a call with investors to explain the company's fourth-quarter and full-year 2014 earnings.

There were about 5,000 advertisers on LinkedIn during the fourth quarter, the company said.

Mr. Weiner also touted LinkedIn's original content. Last February, the company introduced the ability for members to publish long blog posts on the site. There have been more than 1 million "long-form posts" on LinkedIn, he said. Recently, the site saw its first week with more than 50,000 new posts.

"We are committed to growing our publishing platform," Mr. Weiner said.

The number of LinkedIn users -- or "members" as the company calls them -- grew 25% during the fourth quarter and now number 347 million.

But the biggest news around LinkedIn's advertising might be what's to come. The company is planning to roll out a new slate of marketing-solutions products around Bizo, which it acquired for $175 million last July. Bizo is a tech company that will allow marketers to target professional audiences with content-based marketing messages on a network of more than 3,000 professional websites.

Bizo contributed about $16 million in the fourth quarter, the company said.

"On the heels of our success on sponsored content and native advertising … our marketing-solutions partners will be able to nurture prospects on LinkedIn, off LinkedIn and in both mobile and desktop," company executives said of Bizo.

The company's overall revenue in the fourth quarter was $643 million, up 44% from fourth quarter of 2013. That beat Wall Street's expectations of about $617 million.

Net income in the fourth quarter was $3.1 million, down from $3.7 million a year earlier.

For the full year 2014, revenue was $2.2 billion, good for a 45% increase.

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