LinkedIn’s Penry Price, head of global sales, talks about the ad panic at the start of the pandemic
LinkedIn’s Penry Price says the social network for professionals saw advertising revenue slow down with the rest of the market at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s now bouncing back, albeit in an altered landscape for brands and agencies.
Ad Age spoke with Price, LinkedIn’s VP of global sales, to understand how the site managed through the crises that have hit all industries. The pandemic affected digital advertising as sectors including travel pulled back on spending, while other industries pulled ads temporarily to make them more appropriate for the national mood.
“People were frozen, they weren’t sure what was happening,” Price says. As a result, LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, saw about a 20 percent drop in its ad revenue growth rate from March into April.
LinkedIn also has a unique view into the business world and what people are discussing online during the pandemic. Office workers have become home workers, and that has been reflected in their conversations. Price says, in the early days, COVID was the topic of roughly 30 percent of the conversation on the platform.
LinkedIn also has been taking stock of its operations in light of the racial justice movement that swelled in May after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Civil rights protests have forced all companies to consider how they could better address the concerns of traditionally underrepresented groups.
Black people and People of Color, especially, are speaking out more about struggles in corporate America, and LinkedIn is one of the outlets to raise awareness. In fact, LinkedIn has said it is analyzing its own algorithms to study if they introduce bias into how the platform serves users.
Price says LinkedIn is focusing more on inclusion as a guiding principle. “We’re actually trying to do a lot of work on making sure that [we’re] inclusive and making sure we’re talking about every member of the world’s workforce,” Price says, adding that the company wants to make sure that “shows up in the product of LinkedIn, and the way that we all interact with LinkedIn.”