The Unexpected Publisher: LinkedIn Delves Further into Native and Influencer Content

Written on
Feb 10, 2014 
Richard L. Tso  |

ADOTAS – Professionals around the globe flock to LinkedIn as a way to connect with colleagues, network or search for a new job. But behind the scenes, the professional social network has been making its move to join a new breed of publishers – those vying to become a primary destination for premium content. When LinkedIn launched its Influencer program over a year ago, industry thought-leaders queued up for a chance to receive a coveted LinkedIn blogger account that gave them the ability to web publish original articles and share them with the world.

As Adweek reports, LinkedIn is now getting into the content brokerage business, acting as an intermediary between brands and publishers looking to reach a specific audience. For example, LinkedIn is working with technology company Emerson to deliver stories from The Atlantic catered towards female professionals. In order to help the site attract new readers. articles were sent to targeted LinkedIn members and when users clicked on stories, they were directed to an articles page on TheAtlantic.com nested alongside Emerson ads.

Celebrities, politicians and industry heavy-hitters including Richard Branson, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Meg Whitman and even Deepak Chopra are along the few individuals who have a voice on the prestigious LinkedIn blogger network. Now that LinkedIn has attracted a loyal audience and its readership continues to grow, the company has begun to offer more native ad experiences through “Sponsored Updates” or ad units that companies pay for to show up in people’s feeds.

“LinkedIn realized for some time it has to be relevant outside the HR community to make money,” said Rebecca Lieb, analyst at Altimeter. “Increasingly, it’s becoming a marketplace for thought leadership, marketing products and the marketing of companies as great places to work.”

While LinkedIn is reluctant to comment on any long-term plans to become a major publisher, its purchase of Pulse for $90 million last year reveals how it aims to focus on mobile and tablet content consumption – a smart move as it takes on the likes of Facebook as an aggregate source of news and premium content.

“We’re a technology company,” said Jon Williams, head of global agency relations at LinkedIn. “We’re focused on creating a great member experience on our platform. We don’t intend on creating content ourselves.”

LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions team made up 25 percent of the site’s revenue in 4Q 2013, of which Sponsored Updates contributed 13 percent.

Richard L. Tso is a reporter for Adotas and an avid writer covering the intersection of technology and advertising, fashion and music. With over 12 years of experience in the Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations industries, Richard has held executive positions at global agencies and technology companies and is founder of the interactive communications firm Pseudosound Consulting LLC. A classical cellist and painter, he believes that sometimes sound carries more weight than words. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

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